Wedding photographers are either considered the crown jewel of the photography trade, or they are the bottom of the barrel money-hungry sellouts.

These sentiments would both be true to an extent. From my experience dealing with new photographers picking up their first cameras, they typically hold to one of two thought processes:

  1. I never want to shoot a wedding, those people do, and have to know, SO MUCH.


  1. I deserve to be paid for my time and services regardless of skill. (note: I haven’t actually seen this sentence word for word, but aside from that being the gist of it I have seen this sentence worded in different ways multiple times. Cash expectancy.)

Now while those are both intriguing statements and the latter has been covered numerous times over, I want to provide a bit of a dismissal to the first instead.

Wedding photography requires an above normal amount of skill. Why you may ask? Easy, because it encompasses a wide variety of photography. From understanding portraiture to incorporating landscapes, macros, and a bit of everything in between, weddings really are the ultimate in being the jack of all in the trade. The issue here is that even when you acquire these skills, prove to yourself that you can do wedding photography, you have to ask yourself, “does this make me feel accomplished?”

Some people get into photography for the money. They evolve and move into doing weddings because it’s the natural progression of making a paycheck, while also participating in something beautiful that gives a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. But what if I told you there was an entirely other portion of photography dying off that needs those same qualified individuals? One that, while the hustle and bustle of rock-star wedding photographers is roaring in the forefront, is quietly going the way of the typewriter? One that may be even more necessary to the craft than weddings (imagine that, an aspect of photography MORE important than weddings!).

Welcome to photojournalism 101.

While weddings have been the one reliable consistency within the monetary trade of photography, the photojournalism niche has been slowly dying in the background. While famous wedding photographer names, and even landscape photographers names, may jump immediately to mind when thinking about photography the fame for photojournalists often ends at the credits on the bottom of their sourced images. Photographers flock to the industry every year seeking their fortune in portraiture, weddings, landscapes, and fashion. Hoping to be the next Annie Leibovitz, Art Wolfe, Ryan Brenizer, Mario Testino, or potentially not even knowing these people and just expecting to be the best of whatever they’ve seen on Pinterest. Meanwhile, names like Kevin Carter, Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, Renée C. Byer, and Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado go totally unnoticed. Note the first three of these died while capturing their images, telling other peoples stories, and doing what they were passionate about.

“The majority of the 74 journalists killed in 2016 were 'targeted deliberately,' says Reporters Without Borders.”

Between 1992 and 2018 1,826 journalists were killed.

Being a photographer is about being empathetic. It’s about capturing moments, and yes some of those are the beautiful moments that occur during a wedding, but more often what’s needed in this world is for someone to take an image that gives a voice to a problem that isn’t being voiced. These people generally are going towards where everyone else is going away from. The see issues and go towards them because that's where the story is.

So while weddings, portraits, landscapes, travel, and fashion photography may all seem like the glamorous life you always wanted, I implore you to consider finding your fulfillment in helping your common mankind. I’m not suggesting that you have to go off to some foreign country to document their struggle. You could start by finding the voiceless right in your backyard.

Find the issues that no one is talking about and start doing some talking.