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There are a lot of different ways to shoot a wedding; all of them fairly stressful. From very traditional-looking shoots to ultra-hip urban shoots, your style of photography probably has a home in at least one wedding a year.

Reportage wedding photography has grown in popularity enormously in recent years, no doubt partly in thanks to the more old-school wedding photographers who bark orders from the top of stepladders. Reportage photography looks natural, which is appealing, and will do a better job – when it’s done well – of reminding the happy couple of the beautiful, spontaneous moments of their day that made all the planning worthwhile.

If you think supplying reportage-style photography might suit your personality, here are a few quick-hit tips to set you off down the road.

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A stellar example by Reportage Wedding pro; OLYMPUS Visionary John Nassari

Think like a journalist…

Who, what, when, where, why. With reportage photography you’re telling a story rather than simply capturing a few big-ticket moments. That means you need to know who the main characters are, where they’re going to be, and what role they’re going to play in your story. Your photography should capture key moments in the narrative of the day, helping move the story from preparation, to guest arrival, to the ceremony, to the celebrations in the evening.

…but you still need to plan

Reportage photography sounds easy, right? Reporting is a responsive act – you respond to things happening around you by photographing them, which means on the day all you need to do is rock up with a few fully-charged batteries and shoot everything you want. Right?

WRONG. The quiet guest who kept herself to herself and didn’t do anything crazy on the dance-floor, so you didn’t shoot her? Bride’s mother. The photogenic chap with the attention-grabbing hat? The happy couple barely remember his name. You need to know who’s who well in advance of the shoot, including their names and what they look like, so you can prioritise the most important people. Timing is still crucial, so know roughly when and where keystone moments are going to happen.

The light, the light, the light

Photographing in available light is HARD, folks. Most wedding venues are pretty stingy with the windows, which means large pools of gloom with occasional extremely bright highlights, which makes managing exposures difficult. Spot metering is the way to go. We’d also suggest possession, and at least passing familiarity with, a decent strobe. If not two. And possibly some wireless triggers. This is your first – but not last – sign that reportage photography is Not As Easy As It Looks. We’d also suggest…

Issuing instructions

We’re all for totally natural behaviour from your subjects, but every now and then they won’t be… quite right. Don’t let your appetite for photographie verité let you miss shots, so feel free to tell the groom to Do That Thing Again, or get the bride to turn her head slightly so her eyes catch the light more perfectly. Instructing models – particularly ones who have never modelled before – ain’t easy, so consider reportage photography a workout for your people skills.

Up to the challenge? Got a few decent reportage snaps? Head to our Flickr group or tag them with #OlympusUK on Instagram and share them with our huge community of photographers. Looking forward to seeing your work!