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How to shoot wedding reportage
Forget set-ups and poses – wedding reportage photography is as popular as ever, but what are the secrets to capturing a couple’s spark? We speak to wedding and fine art photographer Frøydis Geithus to find out
Is there anything more joyous than a wedding? It’s a day of love – between the couple, friends and family. In this digital age, capturing the spark between a couple and the love has never been more important.
Reportage wedding photography captures events that unfold naturally. Photographers document the day in a photojournalistic manner, telling a genuine and authentic story while capturing the setting, atmosphere and the candid reactions of loved ones.
To find out how best to approach wedding reportage, we spoke to Nikon Ambassador Frøydis Geithus. From Norway, she’s well known for her dark Nordic Noir style images and her use of landscape and props to illuminate a romance between two people.
Having recently returned from Spain to shoot The Movement series for Nikon, Frøydis also reveals how the new Nikon Z 8 is a game changer.
Be a fly on the wall
“When I do wedding photography, 90% of the time it’s reportage,” Frøydis says. “I’m a fly on the wall as I document the day.” Greatly influenced by Baroque artist Rembrandt, who is well known for his use of light within paintings, fine art is at the core of Frøydis’ work. “Couples book me because I do fine art portraits that include the landscape – I make them a piece of art on the wall,” she explains.
A quick scroll through Frøydis’ Instagram reveals her wedding photography is far from the average family group shot. Often dark and saturated, Frøydis’ photography can be described as Nordic Noir, inspired by her growing up surrounded by fjords and mountains in Norway.
“This is how I show light,” Frøydis explains. “Light is what drags you into the photo, but in order to get the light you also need the shadows.”
Make landscapes your own
The west coast of Spain may be slightly different to imposing Norwegian mountains, but when on tour shooting Nikon’s The Movement with the new Z 8, the Nikon ambassador says you have to incorporate landscapes into your own individual approach.
“I could shoot anywhere, in the middle of London say, completely urban, but I have this final touch where I will implement the buildings into my editing – I will find a spot and make it more like a fine art painting.”
Don’t be afraid to move around and use the dynamics of the landscape to capture the grandeur of the couple’s romance.
“I always have a vision when I take the photo,” adds Frøydis. “I can see straightaway if the scenery is not good for what I’m thinking of, and then I would just move two metres or something until I find the scene that I have already in my head.”
Experiment with styles
It’s important to find a style you’re passionate about and own it. Frøydis has worked for many years to find the style she loves to produce – one that her clients also adore.
“I’ve been in the game for so many years,” she says. “It’s a cliché, but your photography has to come from inside, you have to be brave enough to look inward in order to find the true photographer in you.”
Battle off stereotypes
There’s no one guide to wedding photography. If you really want to show off your style, battle off stereotypes and define your vision. “I seldom shoot rings or details,” Frøydis explains. “In the wedding industry, you often have a big list of everything you should do – family formals and the like. Of course, I will photograph these if the couple wants it, but it’s not something I will shoot if they don’t need it.”
Naturally, you have to manage client expectations, too, so don’t forget to sit down with the couple to confirm what they’d love and explain your vision.
Frøydis often chats with the bride in length before the big day. “If you’re a bride and you don’t want to get your dress dirty, I’m not the right photographer, because I would take you to places or go out in the rain – that’s who I am. In order to get the photos you see on my Instagram, you have to go the extra mile.”
Use props to your advantage
Props can be used to elevate a couple’s romance. Natural props such as leaves and flowers can help frame your image better as well as give your couple something to hold. Afraid a prop might be too much? It’s a balancing act.
“You won't know until you know and you know when you look into the camera and think ‘This is not OK’. And when it comes to couples who have wishes and they want certain things, I would do just a few photos. I would never tell them, ‘No, this doesn’t look good,’” says Frøydis. “I will just think, ‘OK, this is not working the way I want it to’, and then if I have an alternative idea I will tell the couple in the moment. Sometimes I have all these ideas for things that will look amazing, and they don’t, but the instant I look into the camera, I can see it’s not working.”
You can read more about Frøydis’ use of props here.
Grab a camera that can do both!
Mirrorless cameras incorporate both videography and photography with ease and Frøydis often switches between shooting small sequences of film and stills to capture the cadence of the wedding.
When on tour with the Z 8, she was blown away with the new camera’s ISO and Eye Detection AF. “With the ISO I don’t have to worry about shooting in the dark, and stabilisers on the mirrorless system and autofocus tracking mean I can shoot handheld, and my photos are always spot on,” she says.
“The autofocus is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a game changer and my photos are razor-sharp as a result.”
Remember you’re here to craft a legacy
A couple’s wedding is once in a lifetime. “The older I get the more I think about legacy,” Frøydis smiles. “A groom I photographed recently lost his mother a few months after the wedding and that really hit me hard because I had been so close to the family during the wedding preparations.
“Yes, you’re there to shoot the special day — but you’re also there to capture and freeze a moment in time.”