California Wedding Photojournalist, Genevieve Burruss

What is photojournalism if not a multifaceted testament to truth? Although the truth may not always be pretty, the intrepid photojournalist holds his camera up to it. He captures what is real and human and honest. His work stands as a testimony to those moments that define us and define the world around us. He photographs the truth when it is difficult to look at and impossible to look away from; when it’s breathtakingly beautiful; and when it makes one feel connected to the world in a very personal way. The truth may take on different shades, but it never changes.

The same holds true for wedding photojournalists—they are inspired by the setting, the subjects, and the outpouring of different emotions throughout the day. The product of their inspiration is clearly seen in their wedding images. With the right lighting, clever compositions, and appropriate usage of computer programs available, wedding photojournalists’ artistic vision is more readily achieved.

Though based on the proliferation of wedding images that have been given a warm tone (or a brownish tint), it seems a handful of wedding photojournalists have become trigger-happy with


This is a wedding photo of a man giving a toast next to the bride in her dress and the groom in his military uniform.

A celebratory toast to the bride and groom is deeply ingrained in wedding tradition, but do you know how the venerable custom came about? In Bottom’s Up!, a 2005 book of cocktail lore, former maritime reporter Robert McKenna solves the mystery.

Drinking to a person’s health or happiness dates to Greek hosts who wanted to assure guests that the wine they drank was not poisoned. But the word “toast” comes from the Latin word “tostus,” meaning roasted or parched, and it came about during Roman times. Wine wasn’t very tasty then, so drinkers plunked a bit of burnt bread into their goblets to improve the flavor. The custom continued into the 1600s on European waterfronts, where seaman dropped a bit of toast in their glasses of ale or mulled wine. When the crouton grew soggy and sank to the bottom, inevitably one of the drinkers would call, “Toast!” and they’d race one another to see who could finish the drink first and eat the saturated bread.


Computer-automated, time-lapse embryo photography may increase success of in-vitro fertilization

Using computer-automated, time‐lapse photography of embryos in the laboratory during in-vitro fertilization may improve embryo selection, potentially increasing the chances of pregnancy among women undergoing the procedure, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and five other fertility centers. Results of the study were presented this week at the 30th annual European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) meeting in Munich, Germany.

The researchers at Penn and their collaborators used the Early Embryo Viability Assessment imaging device (or Eeva, developed and manufactured by Auxogyn, Inc.), which records images of developing embryos during the first three days of laboratory culture, to evaluate embryos transferred into the uterine cavity of 177 patients. The testing process involved fitting the devices into a standard incubator and using dark field imaging to capture high resolution, single-plane pictures of embryos housed in a petri dish, at five-minute intervals. The images were then fed into a software program that uses several measures to assess the embryo’s developmental potential — rating them high, medium, or low for their capacity to reach the blastocyst stage by the fifth or sixth day of culture. Embryos normally implant at the

Researchers develop deep-learning method for computers to predict daily activities

Researchers from the School of Interactive Computing and the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines developed a new method that teaches computers to “see” and understand what humans do in a typical day.

The technique gathered more than 40,000 pictures taken every 30 to 60 seconds, over a 6 month period, by a wearable camera and predicted with 83 percent accuracy what activity that person was doing. Researchers taught the computer to categorize images across 19 activity classes. The test subject wearing the camera could review and annotate the photos at the end of each day (deleting any necessary for privacy) to ensure that they were correctly categorized.

“It was surprising how the method’s ability to correctly classify images could be generalized to another person after just two more days of annotation,” said Steven Hickson, a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science and a lead researcher on the project.

“This work is about developing a better way to understand people’s activities, and build systems that can recognize people’s activities at a finely-grained level of detail,” said Edison Thomaz, co-author and graduate research assistant in the School of Interactive Computing. “Activity tracking devices like the Fitbit can tell how many steps you

Tinder-tinkering artificial intelligence could lessen left-swiping

An artificial intelligence programme to improve Tinder suggestions has been developed by Harm de Vries, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Montreal who was sick of swiping left. Signing up for an account was one of the first things he did upon arriving in the city in August 2014, but he was disappointed with the results. “Tinder kept offering me photos of women with lots of tattoos and piercings, even though I’d never chosen a single one. I don’t want to offend anyone, they’re simply not my type,” he explained. Noting that the app failed to take note of his user history in order to better target the women he might like, he developed new software, the details of which he published onArxiv. His work is supervised by professors Aaron Courville and Roland Memisevic who are with Yoshua Bengio’s lab in the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research.

For those of us who are unfamiliar with Tinder, it’s a mobile application that works by looking at the user’s location: it finds users close to where you are and displays their photos. You can then either swipe right with your finger to indicate that you are interested,

Blur’s Noise And Distortion Reversed

Errant pixels and blurry regions in a photo, whether digital or scanned, are the bane of photographers everywhere. Moreover, in vision processing research degraded photos are common and require restoration to a high-quality undegraded state. Research published  in the International Journal of Signal and Imaging Systems Engineering could provide new insights.

There are countless examples of image editors and photo cleanup software that have built-in tools designed to remove noise and sharpen up edges. Some of these are very powerful others less so. Any “cleanup” process that works by changing individual pixels leads to overall degradation of the image and loss of information. However, a delicate touch with the most subtle tools can produce acceptable quality results.

Now, S. Uma of the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, at Coimbatore Institute of Technology, and S. Annadurai of the Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, India, have turned to neural networks to help them clean up their image. The approach could significantly reduce information loss while reversing blurring caused by lens aberrations and faults and reducing noise that distorts the appearance of an image. The team suggests that distortions in an image due to atmospheric disturbances between camera and distant subjects


Dragging the shutter is a basic photographic technique that is often put to highly creative use by the best wedding photojournalists. Whether depicting the bride mid-whir during a dance, or documenting a child bounding down the aisle at the church, dragging the shutter helps produce images that contain a sense of motion and bring an added dose of festivity to what, for some, already feels like a whirlwind day.

When photographers “drag” the shutter by slowing down its speed, they effectively lengthen the exposure in order to create a motion effect. Optionally, a burst of flash can then freeze the primary subject in the foreground.

By keeping the shutter open that fraction of a second longer during a flash photograph, the camera is able to pick up more ambient light from the background, producing a warmer photo with more distant detail. Otherwise, in poorly lit rooms in which wedding events are often held, such as reception and catering halls, you can end up with photos of people who look like they’re in a pitch-black cave.

The overall result is a more dynamic photo, with more storytelling possibilities. “Dragging the shutter definitely conveys the movement and dancing going on at weddings,” says award-winning photographer


Weddings are a time to honor tradition, commitment and family. But as any wedding photojournalist knows, they’re also a great time for people to come together and cut loose. To capture all those spontaneous moments that will be talked about for years to come, a wedding photographer needs a quick eye and a good camera—oh, and a sense of humor doesn’t hurt either. A few award-winning WPJA members share their stories about some of the wildest, party-centric weddings they’ve ever covered.


Even the most well prepared wedding photojournalist might not know when a reception will be a party-hard affair.

“I never know until I arrive if the wedding I’m at is going to rock the house or be prim and proper,” says Karen Gordon, a WPJA member from New York. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know that sometimes the couples who I think for sure will let loose have a rather dull reception, and the couples who I would never have expected to really know how to get down end up having a blast.”

Heather Mabry, a WPJA member in Texas, has a similar view. “I’ve photographed weddings in which I arrive, I get a sense of the atmosphere


Many WPJA members can trace their roots to the news profession in some way, having shot everything from small-town stories to significant historical events that have led to Pulitzer Prizes. Likewise, many have felt the adrenaline rush that news photojournalists get from bagging the winning touchdown catch, documenting heart-wrenching tragedies and being on the front lines of history. There’s also the gratification of getting published with a byline in a major publication, and the mass-market recognition that often comes with it.

Those are feelings that are difficult to recreate, making it tough to tear some WPJA members away from the news profession altogether.

But there certainly are enough elements of the photojournalist’s life that make a full-time career in the business difficult. Unless you’re at the top of the game, the pay generally is sub-par, and there are numerous amateur photographers and budding photojournalists willing to step in your shoes. The hours and travel can become grueling for anyone wanting to raise a family or pursue other interests.

The news industry is also in flux, with online Web sites and 24-hour cable networks capturing ever more readers while sucking up much of the advertising revenues that conventional news operations have depended on to


Vanessa Rufli and Anthony Cerasoli planned a romantic August 18 wedding on remote Isla Holbox, a small island located seven miles off the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. Settled by 19th-century pirates and known more for fishing than tourism, Isla Holbox was just the type of off-the-beaten-path location that the two Phoenix architects wanted for their destination wedding, which they dubbed “Mission Mexico.” They posted a web site, had Mission Mexico T-shirts printed for their guests, and hired Atlanta-based WPJA member Matt Adcock to be their wedding photojournalist.

But on the day of the wedding, Mission Mexico turned into an evacuation mission. Dean, a category 5 hurricane, was headed for the Yucatán Peninsula and the Mexican government ordered a mandatory evacuation. Instead of exchanging vows, the bride and groom, along with their 33 guests, waded through roiling surf, holding their luggage overhead, to get to a boat moored just off shore. Lightning slashed the black sky and torrential rain pelted them as the boat raced toward the small town of Chiquila. The wedding party was on the run.

The third most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever hit land since record keeping began in the 1850s, Hurricane Dean packed winds exceeding 165


WPJA photographer Scott Lewis, who just moved to Philadelphia from central New Jersey, halted his unpacking to ponder a question: When photographing a wedding, is it necessary to shoot constantly to ensure that every memorable moment is captured?

He answered by recounting a recent conversation he had with two young photographers just beginning their careers as wedding photojournalists. They admired his style and sought guidance. Lewis, who has worked most of his career as a photojournalist, most recently at a newspaper in Raleigh, NC, gave them sage advice. “These guys shoot twice as many pictures at a wedding as I do,” says Lewis, who takes between 1,400 to 1,800 images per wedding. “I told them, ‘You’re taking a machine gun approach when you should be taking a sniper approach.’”

The digital age has liberated photographers from the expense of purchasing and processing huge quantities of film. In addition, some WPJA members have cited the ease and economy of digital photography as a factor that support their creativity—one that includes a license to take large numbers of shots. Yet overshooting has its disadvantages.

Lewis posits that less-experienced photographers overshoot because they do not trust their instincts. “As a photographer, you are always going to


To document the best moments of a wedding day, a photographer shouldn’t only focus on the bride and groom, or even on the main event. “Reaction shots,” which record the reactions of guests observing the wedding’s activities as they occur, add an invaluable dimension to the visual record of the festivities.

“I was constantly given a gentle reminder to look beyond the obvious action while covering sports assignments while on staff at The Hartford Courant newspaper,” says WPJA founder David Roberts, who notes that the assignment sheets that came to the staff photographers from the sports department and the assignment sheets always read “Action or Reaction.”

“Sometimes I would arrive at the event totally focused on getting peak action of the winning team,” he recalls. “Then I would read those three words and look at the event in a completely different way. I would say to myself: ‘I’m not here just to show the winners in action, I also need to capture the reactions to the main event on the sidelines.’”


Experienced wedding photojournalists focus on the bride and groom, but they also make a practice of scanning the room for reaction shots and zooming in on the details. According to


Weddings can be chaotic, noisy affairs where emotions are displayed publicly, so one of your biggest challenges can be capturing their quiet, intimate side. Trust, anticipation, skilled observation, savvy lens selection and a host of other judgments make it possible to bag those quiet, poignant moments in images that recall the day for those in attendance, as well as give those who were not in sight into what it was like to have been there. It is all part of the unique value proposition that our members bring to wedding photojournalism.

In college, WPJA photographer Mark Adams of LaCour in Atlanta chose to pursue a degree in anthropology because he wanted to be a photographer. He knew anthropology would help him be more observant of human interaction, he says. “In order to make pictures of real moments, you have to observe personalities, get to know people and see how they interact with others,” he says. “You also have to know when to be quiet and back away.”

A newspaper and magazine photojournalist for a number of years before becoming a wedding photographer full time, Adams says he has a passion for documenting real life. “It’s powerful to make pictures of real moments


For one day, the two of you are the focus of attention. The concerns of the world slip away as your sweetheart and you take center stage for the moment you’ve long anticipated. Your guests’ thoughts and emotions are given over to your love. In turn, they are participants in your big day, compounding the good feelings of the love-filled event. With ceremonial dances, emotional toasts or simply their blessings, your family and friends have come together on this day to help seal your love with fairytale splendor.

Indeed, your wedding is one of the few days in your life when you can live a dream. As the center of attention, you are celebrities, perhaps a king and queen for that one day, surrounded by a paparazzi of guests with cameras everywhere. Even though this situation is par for the course, it definitely has an impact on how your photographer will cover the wedding. Fortunately, talented wedding photojournalists take it all in stride, using the mix of hubbub and adoration to create lasting visual memories.


Whether through dance, song or gestures, typical wedding customs often help to bring the guests and the newlyweds together, while intensifying that


It’s the single most terrifying thing a parent can hear: “Mommy mommy! Heeeelp! …Daddy’s doing the Macarena!!”

That’s right, couch potatoes—it’s wedding time. Time to slip on those comfy dance shoes and slip off those itchy inhibitions. Jane Goodall might think she broke new ground in mammalian research, but she never crashed a wedding reception in the third quarter of an open bar. So a Tanzanian chimp can sign ‘I love you’? Big whoop. If you want to see the best that humanity has to offer, look no further than a Minwaxed parquet floor and a thumping remix of Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration.”


Ever since early man learned to beat a stick on a rock, some guy has embarrassed his family by dancing to it. The primordial urge to shake your booty can be traced back thousands of years, when cave dwellers learned to ward off strangers by loudly grunting and jumping around like maniacs. Luckily, not much has changed.

Few theorems apply universally across our species. One of them is this: If you can dance, you know it. If you can’t, you definitely don’t.

The after-vows hoedown is often a hotbed of rhythm-based research and enlightenment. Even though the behavioral microscope


We’ve all seen them: vignettes and faux hand-tints; cross-processed images that overwhelm the senses with an unreal look; a heavy-handed use of flairs, starbursts and diffusion effects; cheesy frames. They cry for attention, hijacking the image in the photographic equivalent of a velvet Elvis wall hanging.

Where is the value, the poignancy, and the essence in these photos?

Today’s digital post-processing tools can be a force for good in the right hands, but can create visual mayhem when used without the proper judgment or in lieu of an essentially good image to start with.

Wedding photojournalism is all about the image and how it captures the moment and emotions. Any manipulation in post-production should be undertaken very carefully, beyond the temptation to incorporate trendy effects at the expense of the visual and documentary essence that make an image great in the first place.

“It is disconcerting to see mediocre wedding photography made to appear ‘fantastic’ as a result of drastic image manipulation,” says San Francisco-based wedding photographer Catherine Hall. “Ten years down the road when the novelty of the current special effects fade, the images will lose their impact and become passé.”


Wedding photojournalists have an obligation to help clients understand what


How can you let your guests get great shots at the wedding while helping your wedding photojournalist get his or hers as well? Fortunately, the two goals are not mutually exclusive. A few WPJA members weigh in with professional tips and techniques that your wedding guests can use to kick their personal photos up a few notches, while ensuring that their efforts will not detract from the “official” photos produced by the hired photographer.


Do you know how to turn off the flash on your personal camera, or change its settings to best suit the lighting at a given moment? What about your guests? Encourage them to get to know their cameras if you know they’ll want to play shutterbug at the wedding.

“I often turn my flash off; it kills most pictures,” says wedding photographer Porter Gifford, who is based in Massachusetts. “And just taking a minute or two to learn your camera can result in some great, unusual shots.”

For an outdoor wedding, however, flash is the way to go. In the light of day, your camera will turn its flash off. Become familiar with the settings and turn it on. This can help decrease shadows that are


Shooting wide vs. long runs to the heart of how you approach wedding photojournalism—in the storytelling, the composition, visceral message and emotion conveyed, and even in how your subjects relate to one another.

In fact, there’s no debate that the decisions you make on the length of your lenses significantly affect your results in documenting any one scene or event during the wedding festivities. There are advantages and disadvantages to shooting both wide and long, and it’s ultimately up to your mind’s eye, your vision as a wedding photojournalist, as to how you decide which lens is appropriate to any particular scene.

We’ve polled some of our top members on their wide vs. long shooting styles, as well as their techniques, preferences and recommendations for using focal length as a key tool for effectively documenting the story of the day.


Most wedding photojournalists routinely use a variety of lenses to shoot weddings, but for the most part, shorter, wide-angle focal lengths get the lion’s share of use—actually about 75 to 80 percent of the time. Most typically 17mm to 35mm in length, the shorter lenses capture more of the scene, allowing textures, atmosphere, reactions and other subjects of interest to play a


The first time you envisioned your wedding, you probably didn’t see a long list of details to attend to, decisions to be made or negotiations to be undertaken. Surely, your vision involved you and your partner. It was filled with tenderness, sweet melodies, pure bliss…and romance. After all, a wedding is romantic—the consummation of your everlasting love.

A skilled wedding photojournalist knows how to anticipate and capture situations that convey those special feelings. When the day is over, your memories will be enhanced through photographs of the two of you looking at one another or simply being together, thus narrating the story of your love. That is what it’s all about. We talked to three WPJA members to find out how they zero in on the romantic moments.


A glance, a quick kiss or a sigh shared between the betrothed amidst the whirlwind of activity and emotion on their wedding day are moments that tend to happen quickly. They’re intimate exchanges that represent the strong feelings the bride and groom have for one another. They can be gone in a flash (no pun intended). The guests may not notice them, but the perceptive wedding photojournalist does.

Your photographer’s portfolio should reflect


Amid all the chaos of a wedding day, scenes of patterns can help restore a sense of calmness to the moment, creating order from disorder.

And patterns will abound at wedding ceremonies and receptions. For one, you’ll have a number of ushers decked out in the same tuxedo, coupled with bridesmaids wearing the same dress, without any pangs of jealousy. A unifying color or color scheme usually ties all the visual elements together. And there are also numerous props—from chairs and place cards, to champagne glasses and silverware—that all can provide broad canvasses of patterns.

Each pattern presents an attractive opportunity to capture an interesting photo, adding a contrasting dimension to many of the other photos of the event. It’s a breath of fresh air for the eyes too, since patterns appear so frequently in daily life, whether on a tile floor or in slats on a picket fence.

“In general, I think the brain likes to create order from disorder,” says wedding photographer Kelly McCord. “I like finding patterns and repetition that are occurring naturally. It’s not something I purposefully try to do. It’s just the way I seem to see things.”

That’s why many WPJA members keep an eye out for patterns


Couples hire wedding photojournalists for their narrative approach to photography, but they’re also expected to get the more formal shots; portraits of the wedding party, family and friends. Balancing those competing expectations— pleasing our clients while producing unique and timeless images— is an ongoing challenge and a somewhat tricky proposition that not only permeates the wedding day, but also spills over to your web site design and public portfolio.

How do you present your images in a way that pleases portrait-centric clients while staying true to your esthetics and attracting new business? Some of our award-winning members share their strategies.


What present and future clients expect from you, and how they react to your style, can be greatly influenced by some informative communication on your part.

If you can impress potential clients with your style before any initial contact, that’s a great start. This is why web sites are so important to a mutually successful wedding day assignment.

“From what you present on your web site via the portfolio and FAQ page to how you present yourself during the interview, it’s important to sell yourself and your style,” notes Iowa-based WPJA photographer Mark Kegans. “If you’re professional and, even better,

TO LAUGH AND TO HOLD Telling a Wedding Day Story Through Humor

Here’s a little test for all you soon-to-be-newlyweds:

It’s your wedding day. As your guests stream into the church for your ceremony, onlookers gasp as grandma suddenly catches her foot on a fold in the carpet and takes a header right in front of the altar. Do you…

A) Cry
B) Tell her that she obviously did something to upset God
C) Comment that her lipstick is now even MORE outside the lines
D) Roll her up in the carpet so the bridal party can get by

If you answered anything but “E”, this article is for you.


We all wake up on our wedding day with the exact same thought: “AHHHH…what could possibly go wrong today?” But, like Lindsay Lohan in a common sense factory, fate has a way of blowing us off course.

Every newly betrothed couple assumes that their event will go off without a hitch. But there’s one big mitigating factor in this lofty assumption. Namely, your day’s success is entirely dependent on other humans. And, unfortunately, that species is still a few sardines short of a bucket of chum.

So you have two choices. You can either freak out over minor mishaps