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Are wedding photographers overusing the term "storytelling"?

About 90% of photography websites contain the term "storytelling" at least once. I mean, why wouldn't you use it, this is what creative photography is all about - telling a story to the person who looks at your photograph. The reason I am struggling with this kind of style description is simply the overuse and different interpretations. "Storytelling" delivers the perception that I can understand the scenario captured in the photograph I am looking at. But what if, I don't see a story? What if I can tell that the photographer told the happy couple what to do and how to look and the couple just followed the instructions? To me, a photograph that tells a story doesn't need instructions at all. The photographer shouldn't be part of the conversation, only observe and freeze the moment. I wish more photographers would only use this style of description when they weren't part of the moment apart from being physically there and capturing it.

 

The wedding photography industry has never been richer in its service providers. There are thousands of wedding photographers out there trying to deliver their portfolio and reach potential clients. It is only natural to look left and right to see what everyone else is doing but I feel like the term "storytelling" has experienced an overuse without giving it a proper thought. To be fair, it does sound very nice and appealing.

 

Some photographers might be thinking: "Oh but most of my couples need and request instructions. Of course I am going to help them get the poses right.". That is absolutely fine and not up for debate. If I feel like the couple is overwhelmed by the thought that their wedding portraits have to look perfect because they will end up in albums and picture frames then the smallest guidance can help them relax. To me, this isn't storytelling anymore. I would call this "posing assistance", "guidance" and "reassurance" which, in my eyes, deserves the same skill recognition as "storytelling". Don't be afraid of advertising with "I can help you relax during your photos and give you guidance and reassurance.". Let's look at two examples:


The two photos show the same couple on the same day almost at the same time and yet both photos are two different photography styles.

 

Example 1 is telling a story. The story of the happy bride being carried by her newly wedded husband across the dunes. How it came to this fun moment can have many reasons and unless it is being shared with the viewer, only the couple and photographer know the exact reason. It gives the viewer room to interpret why the bride is being carried. For the record - please look at these amazing shoes! Antonia was sinking into the grass with them and Jorge picked her up in no time and carried the laughing Antonia onto steady ground. A hilarious moment that developed naturally.

 

Example 2 is a close-up of the couple hugging and laughing. What's the story here? The couple simply followed guidance to stay close and tell each other the funniest moment of the day to make smiling and laughing easier. The difference to example 1 is how they view the photos with their family and friends afterward and tell them what and how this photo happened. That, to me, is a story worth telling!

 

If you are a couple looking for a wedding photographer and you hope for guidance during your portrait session because you aren't exactly a model couple, then pure storytelling photographers might not be the best fit for you. Look for someone proud and skilled to guide you to the stunning couple portraits you have always dreamed of.

 

If you are a couple that has been in front of the camera lots of times before and you wish for storytelling, the pure documentary style photography then by all means, go for the storytellers! They are great at observing without interrupting, yet almost being invisible capturing raw moments. Couples that particularly look for that kind of photographer are usually very VERY confident in their photographer's capability and can fully let go during the day. If this sounds like you, find yourself the best storyteller out there!

 

Most photographers offer both. I haven't come across a photographer yet that straight out refused to give guidance because they're labeling themselves as "storytellers". BUT there are some photographers out there with big personalities that pride themselves on the big posed fabulous shots and arrange every little detail towards perfection. For them, it can be rather difficult to simply observe and not interfere.

 

Couples and photographers - there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those style descriptions. The question is, what are you looking for as a couple and what are you best at as a photographer?

In any way, communication is key.


Wedding Date: 30th April 2023


Technical information about the photographs:

Camera body: Sony Alpha 7III

Camera Lens: Zeiss 35mm/f.1.4

Camera Settings: 35mm / f.2.0 / ISO 200 / 1/4000sec

Editing with my own presets.

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@2024 Verena Wood | Remember Tomorrow Photography

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