I’m not a normal Wedding Photographer… There, I said it! I’m what we call a Documentary Wedding Photographer, but what exactly does that mean? Allow me to dive in.
My style is fun and emotional. I don’t like formal poses and I don’t do boring photos, stereotypes or cheesy rubbish! I love the quirky moments that happen on every wedding day, and I love unapologetic flowing emotions.
A small and emotional wedding day will have a very different vibe to a 150-guest wedding with grandma’s dancing on tables… And so the photographs shouldn’t look the same, either. If you can flick through your wedding album on your tenth anniversary and FEEL what it was like to be at your wedding, then I’ve done my job well! You don’t get ‘all those feels’ from standing ten people in a line and telling them to smile.
My Four Core Values when taking Documentary Wedding Photos
People look their best when they’re having a good time. Weddings, by their very nature, are fun.
The biggest part of my job is to capture this enjoyment and all of the emotions that go with it for you to revisit for years to come. When you look back at your photos you’ll remember the happiness you felt and the love you experienced, rather than the irritation of being told what to do all day.
The entire story
The whole day is an adventure and I want to be there for as much of that as possible. I arrive when you’re getting ready and leave only when I’ve captured the vibes of your party.
So much will happen on your big day and it can be hard to take it all in, so I will present to you a set of images to encapsulate the day as a story.
No cheesy smush
I won’t boss you around and I won’t make you stare lovingly into each other’s eyes, all romantic.
Of course, we will be taking some beautiful photographs of you two, but we’ll be having fun.
For the rest of the day, I’ll be blending in and joining in the festivities!
It’s your wedding, not an elaborate photoshoot
I understand that it’s about you and your memories, not about me. This is why I work in a laid back way. Documentary Wedding Photography isn’t about taking you away to pose for hours, I know how annoying and awkward that can be.
I believe that the best photos capture simple emotions, and no elaborate lighting setup or unusual lens is going to help that!
What is a Documentary Wedding Photographer
My ultimate goal as a documentary wedding photographer is to tell the story of the day. I do this from a guests-eye point of view through unposed and candid imagery.
This approach, allowing a wedding to happen around me without stopping moments or spending hours on group shots, allows you to spend all of your time with your friends and family without any awkward posing.
Now, take a look at many wedding photography websites and you will see terms like ‘documentary’ or ‘reportage’ wedding photographer thrown around when they’re talking about their work. And this is true… When it comes to modern weddings there will always be an amount of unposed photography. Nobody is going to stop you during your “I do’s” to make you smile harder and so the majority of photographers will be delivering some unposed photos. However, I have a true passion for moments! My favourite photographs are the ones filled with pure emotion. The stuff that is impossible to set-up, fake or re-create.
Storytelling with Photography
Documentary Wedding Photography is all about the story. The images that I shoot are created to tell the entire story of your day. I don’t believe that you get this from standing people in a line or forcing them to smile at the camera.
This style of Wedding Photography is also known by a few other names… Reportage wedding photography, wedding photojournalism, documentary wedding photography. These all effectively mean the same thing. A wedding photographer who will capture the day authentically, in all the natural and raw beauty rather than controlling a scene.
I love capturing the unguarded moments that can often go unnoticed.
The ‘blink-and-you-missed-it’ stuff.
Most of all… I’m all about the FEELS. The emotions and the joy!
The Hands-off approach
As a documentary wedding photographer, my approach is much more ‘hands-off’ than other more traditional wedding photographers.
I prefer to photograph from a ‘guests eye’ point of view. I like being in the moment and close to the action without being intrusive.
This way of working results in honest memories of the events on the wedding day. You will be able to look back at your photos and remember the feeling of the day.
The Anatomy of a Moment
Let’s take a few seconds to dissect the photograph above.
First, we see the grooms’ father having his emotional moment in the foreground. This is the main focus of the photograph.
However, when we look a little bit deeper we start to see other people having their own moments too. The lady to his left, comforting him, is the mother of the bride. This shows a unity between the two families which have come together.
We see his daughter to his right. She’s out of her seat because she has seen that he needs a reassuring voice in his ear.
Did you notice that the bride and grooms daughter has taken the grooms seat? she was supposed to be with the other guests but simply needed to be closer to mum when she noticed the speeches getting emotional.
We also see the groom giving his speech… The root of the emotions. Although we could say he’s in the background, his presence is what holds this story together. If the photo was taken from a different angle, maybe in front of his dad, we wouldn’t see the groom. And without him we wouldn’t know the reason for the dads emotions. We also wouldn’t see that the bridesmaids are also having their own moment even further in the background.
This all adds context to the photo. Each of these elements is considered and thought about before I pressed the button on the camera.
It would have been easy for me to simply be taking photos of the groom here. It may be more natural for somebody else to stand back with a long lens and just pick out individual reactions.
Neither of these approaches would have given us the emotion, nor would they have told a story. These things are integral to the way I photograph weddings.
Think years into the future… Your wedding-day memories will lie within the photography. Therefore, it’s my absolute duty to ensure that these stories are natural, and that the emotions and the joy of the day are evident.
I will be capturing these moments unobtrusively and with total respect for your wedding.
Reading the moments
I love people, they fascinate me. I love blending into an environment (usually a wedding) and being able to mingle so that I can be right in these moments when they happen. I like to watch events unfold and I have learned to anticipate the best ones.
I use smaller cameras than many wedding photographers, too. People have mistaken me for a guest in the past. This really allows me to capture the unique personalities at your wedding.
“Genuinely so happy with everything Paul has done for us… I can ‘feel’ my wedding day through the pictures, and that is priceless.” Sue & Simon
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Documentary Wedding Photographer – Questions you may have
Some Frequently asked questions regarding documentary style wedding photography.
What is Documentary Wedding Photography?
Documentary wedding photography is a style of wedding photography where the photographer does not pose or interfere in moments.
The wedding couple are able to enjoy their wedding with their family and friends, whilst the candid photographer captures the story of the day.
Documentary Wedding Photography and group photos?
Most documentary wedding photographers will still set aside a small amount of time for group photos. We usually get through them efficiently to leave more of my time available for candid photos.
Is Documentary Wedding Photography popular?
Documentary wedding photography has become more and more popular in recent years. This is in part due to technology, with digital cameras meaning we can take unlimited photos to tell the story of the day.
The taste of wedding couples has also steered towards more casual weddings, whereby they want unposed photography instead of spending hours with the photographer.
What does a documentary wedding photographer take photos of?
A good documentary wedding photographer will be capturing all of the ‘moments’ on a wedding day.
The moments captured will serve to tell a story of the wedding day.