DOCUMENTARY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Documentary Wedding Photography is the art of capturing authentic moments, as they happen, with no input or guidance from the photographer at all.
It’s a term that’s used interchangeably these days with “photojournalism” and “reportage” and you’ll see the term used a lot on photographers websites. And whilst it’s true that every photographer will be shooting in a documentary style for much of the day (I’d hope no one is going to interrupt the speeches so they can move you into better light, or ask you to pose during the ceremony!) I believe there is a difference between those photographers shooting in a documentary style, and a true documentary wedding photographer.
To me, being a documentary wedding photographer means not just reacting to moments as they happen, but becoming skilled in anticipating moments before they unfold. Spotting the potential of a moment and composing a shot around that potential, skilfully framing all of the elements ready to capture it as soon as it happens.
It’s about delivering images that tell a story without any additional context needed, there’s no need to describe what’s happening because the image explains itself, you can see what’s happening, you instinctively know the story, you can feel the moment.
What about groups? and couples portraits?
There are of course parts of the day that can’t be captured in an off-the-cuff way, they’re simply not going to happen if you don’t arrange them. And of course family photos are very important to most people. So while you won’t find any in my portfolio, we take time out of the day to get these at 90% of weddings.
I try to be as efficient as possible with the group photos and not keep you waiting around for ages, wedding days are about fun and laughter and love – and not many people love standing around having their photo taken! I want you back to celebrating with your friends and family as soon as possible, creating all kinds of little moments for me to capture.
And of course photos of the couple themselves are equally important, I’ll often take the couple for a walk around the venue while the light is at it’s best. Not only does it let us get some epic portraits that you would create amazing centrepieces in your home. But it gives you 15 minutes or so time away from the rest of your guests. A few quiet moments as a newly married couple away from the party.
My approach to documentary wedding photography
My approach to documentary wedding photography is simple but effective. I’ll mingle and chat with your guests throughout the day, I’ll shoot from within moments rather than from the outside looking in.
I’ll deliver a gallery that is 90% colour with a splattering of black and white images. I love colour, and often couples have spent a long time choosing their colour combinations for the wedding and I want that to shine through. But some images just cry out to be in black and white, so you’ll get a mixture of the two.
I use flash sparingly. You won’t see me get any flashes out until the dancing starts, I want to be as unobtrusive as possible and I think flash during the day is distracting to guests and the couple alike. But dance floor shots with a bit of flash are banging.
I believe that all moments at wedding are of equal importance. Yes there are crucial parts of a wedding, the ceremony, the speeches, the first dance, the confetti. These are all the big moments, but they’re not necessarily more important than the little moments. Peoples reactions during the ceremony, at hearing an emotional speech, at seeing another guest do something funny/stupid/both – often equally important.
It’s all about the people and the emotions
Ultimately, I want you to look back on your gallery and see a collection of images that each tell a story. Of your guests having fun, maybe shedding a tear of joy – of them being themselves. Little moments, perfectly preserved, stories within stories within your own love story.