Wedding Photography Tips: Mel DiGiacomo on Photojournalistic Approach



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Mel DiGiacomo, a versatile photographer whose background ranges from sports to documentary photography, sits with B&H to discuss his journalistic approach to shooting weddings.

“What I want out of a wedding is real life. I want some kind of truth: whether it’s my truth or their truth.” – Mel DiGiacomo

Check out more of Mel’s Videos:
Lessons From a Veteran Wedding Photographer

Street Photography with Mel DiGiacomo

Visual Literacy: A Conversation with Mel DiGiacomo

hi my name is Mel Mel G Giacomo photojournalist sports photographer landscape photographer doesn't matter as long as it attracted me that's the have I where and what I want out of a wedding is real life I want some kind of truth whether it's my truth or well their truth and don't ask me to describe what truth is but that's what I want out of a wedding so you want to be a wedding photographer go ahead but break some rules I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to see or what I'm going to find but this is where your training as a journalist comes in you're always ready you know what your exposures are you know what lenses you should be using and you know how close or how far you should be if I have to be described as anything I'm an itinerant I like walking around and finding moments and I basically do the same thing at a wedding I just walk around and I find moments and you have to choose the moments and you have to anticipate some of those things now I think the difference between the people that do wedding photographs and and what I do is I'm the only photographer on the wedding I don't use an assistant I don't have any lights outside of a pop flash on my Canon 20d and I try and get in the middle of everything with wide-angle lenses this is a 24 1/4 which I like a lot and the one thing about the 24 millimeter is its demands that you get close I mean you can't stand back and then shoot with that yeah well if you want to stand back and then crop the hell out of everything that's one thing but that's not what I do I like getting close and I do that for two reasons the one I really like to be around people the other thing is is that you're right here with me is if you've got your arm inside my arm and I'm taking you along and you're participating in this wedding just as I am because you're looking at that photograph that I produced and there's a very physical nature to it the way you get closest by putting on the wide-angle lens you don't put on an 80 to 200 zoom and stand 15 feet away and get close like that because you pull it in because then everything is flat for us with this there's dimension to it and think about that I'm bringing you the viewer standing right next to me and saying this is what you're going to see and this is the dimension of this because of this wide-angle lens Ernst Oz said the best lens you have are your feet you want a wide-angle back up one inch telephoto move in and that's what the wide-angle does you have to be close with that one angle and it makes the pictures more physical and it commands the viewer to join it somebody's going to be looking at my pictures and I want them to be engaged in these photographs and one way to do that is with the wide-angle lens the other thing is people know you're there I mean how can I not be missed them three or four feet away but they learn to ignore me you know when they're dancing and I'm in the middle of the dance floor but yet at the same time they're still aware of me being there and it doesn't distract them the photograph at all I mean then sometimes you get some some people in doing silly poses up that works very nicely because it's spontaneous it's not something I posed I don't want to pose any of the photographs it's a wedding I I just want to be a witness a bride told me once she said my wedding was a blur I never saw it but you were my witness you showed me my wedding and I did and I did up close not from a distance but up close I brought her into the pictures so that's probably the best compliment I've ever gotten about about how I shoot the other thing I've gotten away from thanks to today's technology is I don't use the flash that much if ever depends upon the wedding site if it's well lit I will flash it at all the thing I like about the Canon 5d Mark 3 is that the ISO can go way up go up to 25,000 and what that does that means with this 24 1/4 and 25,000 de sá you can go into a closet and photograph moths if that's your idea of a good time I shoot in color but I don't process it in color I process it in black and white and the reason I do it that way is because every once in a while then happened very often but maybe once every five or six seven weddings is that one moment that is absolutely glorious in color so you don't change you leave it like that why should you change it when it looks beautiful and that happens every once in a while where you get a color photograph and you say heck with this I'm going to leave it in color but I'm going to go along with what Robert Frank great photographer said the colors of photography are black and white and one reason why a lot of wedding photographers don't shoot in black and white is because it's more up coming us easy colors is its own reward look it's just bright red you know pretty that isn't the yellow and the blue and the subject if you're going to do it like remember in English grammar you add the subject the verb and the direct object and the adjectives and adverbs and the modifying is that's the same thing in photography the subject that's the subject is the color the red is the subject that's the first thing people are going to notice is the color I'm secondary and then black and white I eliminate the color then I become primary and that's what it's all about it's about the individual not the color the other thing is don't be afraid to try new things you know don't get stuck in the same old rut and saying oh well you know I'm used to shooting at 400 and I don't want to shoot than anything else nonsense go to 800 go to 1200 the other 1600 go wherever it works your job is to deliver pictures first of all your job your responsibility is to yourself and then to the client I always put myself before the client because I want the best and only the best for myself and that's why the client hires me it's because they like what I do and again I'm going to I'm going to take chances and I'm going to shoot from angles that most people don't shoot from and you can do that with this this camera I mean if you want to get real low and shoot up you get that kind of heroic posture and go ahead and do it break a few rules you know there are no formulas in life so why should to be a formula the wedding there's nothing like being a photographer there's all kinds of pain all kinds of suffering and all kinds of wonderful joy so take the good with the bad and remember with uh who is it Samuel Beckett that ever try ever fail try again fail better so keep doing it you're going to fail there's no question about it but failures are the portals to success you learn from them don't gets discouraged when we all make mistakes so learn from your mistakes and keep making them and you'll get better and better and better and better so you'll make fewer of fewer and fewer mistakes I can answer that phone excuse me whether you're a hobbyist or a professional bnh has the answers to your questions experience a world of technology at our New York City superstore connect with us online or give us a call our staff of experts is happy to help

39 thoughts on “Wedding Photography Tips: Mel DiGiacomo on Photojournalistic Approach

  1. I finally found my style during a wedding shoot. And yes this is it. I don't like capturing the posey posey kinda thing. Candid moments are more natural with a photo journalistic approach. Love this video. Thanks Youtube.

  2. I love this guys take on photography , a connection with the subject whether in terms of physical closeness (using wide angle) or an implicit knowledge of how your subjects want to be perceived through their photographs, can definitely give more personality to your shots. Although i am worried to see the falloff of light on the bottom half of some pictures, it seems high speed sync isn't being utilized properly. 

  3. Markedly shorter than many B+H videos, but so inspiring and uplifting. Really love his photojournalistic approach to wedding photography. An amazing presenter, too, almost conversational. Great stuff.

  4. WOW, for me the greatest part of this is the ending when you said "we all make mistakes so learn from them and keep making them….". As a new photographer with no formal training and, learning only by reading, watching videos and, then experimenting it can seem overwelming and some times discouraging but, you have given me a boost to keep on. Thanks!

  5. Some of the shots look like lucky accidents…. no way! You must know what you want to get these shots… put yourself where you need to be and be ready for them. Mastery of this level takes years of desire to be better. Inspired work thank you.

  6. DEAR PHOTOLIGHT [BELOW]WHY DID I USE LIGHTING IN THIS VIDEO.PROBLEM IS THAT AMATEURS NEED TO LIGHT.AND DON’T FEEL A POP FLASH IS “PRO LIGHTING”.PAY ATTENTION.IF I USED A CANDLE TO LIGHT A PORTRAIT,WHO CARES.  I USE WHAT EVER GETS THE JOB DONE.AND AN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION AS TO WHY I  USED LIGHTING TO LIGHT THIS VIDEO.I DIDN’T IT’S ALL NATURAL LIGHT MATE.MY SUGGESTION TO ALL THOSE WHO VIEW THIS YOU TUBE IS TO DO WHATEVER YOU MUST DO IN ORDER TO GET YOUR DESIRED RESULT.YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO WHAT I DO.DO WHAT YOU DO.I’M SIMPLY PRESENTING WHAT I DO IF THAT MAY BE OF SOME BENEFIT.THERE ARE PLENTY OF EXPERTS THAT WILL CRITICIZE MY APPROACH. THEN AGAIN THESE ARE THE SAME EXPERTS THAT WOULD CRITICIZE JACKSON POLLACK FOR HIS DRIP PAINTINGS OR ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG TO EMPLYO MIXED MEDIA.

  7. Outstanding images. Mel will be shooting my wedding on July 4th of this year and i recommend him to anyone who wants not only the most talented but memories of a kind you have never seen before.

  8. Love it! Mel shot our wedding. We treasure the images he delivered and I learned a lot that I still use when shooting my own stuff to boot. A wonder of a photographer and a wonder of a person.

  9. Very good, one thing I'm getting from all these very talented speakers is that you have to decide on your 'Style', then make it your own, then be true to it and perfect it!  e.g., this guy prefers no flash and yet the last guy used multiples speedlites!  There isn't a right or wrong way as long as its yours!!

  10. Mel DiGiacomo seems to be of of the last few photographers who knows all the rules in the book, only to break them constantly and succsessfully. And where there is no rule he´s probably made on up only to break that one too. What he does, shoudn´t work but it does in every photo of his that I´ve seen so far. And every single one of his photos grabs me and holds on to some part of me that wants to see how the scene he witnessed with a camera is going to develop.

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