Documentary Wedding Photographer – what does that mean?

I talk a lot about being a documentary wedding photographer. You could also call it a reportage wedding photographer or a photojournalist. I would like to explain a bit more what I mean by that and what I think defines a documentary wedding photographer:

Capture something real

As a documentary wedding photographer I want to document the true emotions of your wedding day. I want my photographs to show your character, and that of your parents and best friends. Photography allows us to capture memories and fleeting moments that might otherwise be forgotten – that’s what I love about it. I want those moments to be truthful and genuine.

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Unaware of the camera

I don’t ask you to repeat anything just for the camera, or interrupt a conversation to set up a better angle. I don’t ask you to stand and smile for the camera.  To me, the best photographs are those where people are completely unaware of the camera. I want to capture a true moment, nothing staged.   And weddings offer so many opportunities to catch beautiful emotions and precious moments.

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No distraction from the day

Your wedding is about sharing a very special day with the people that you love most. I want you to focus on your friends and family rather than on me. I won’t take you away from your guests for a long time to take couple portraits or take a long time for the group shots. I don’t want your day to be about posing for pictures. I want you to live it and enjoy every moment, and I will be there to capture it.

A documentary wedding photographer observes rather than participates

To capture those special moments, I spend a lot of time observing. I position myself to make the most of the light. I anticipate what might happen next. Whilst I do chat to guests, I don’t ever direct or interrupt anything. I usually work alone and I use natural light whenever possible. I will use flash when necessary but I never use intrusive light set-ups.

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Does a documentary wedding photographer not take any formal portraits?

Even couples who are planning a very relaxed and informal wedding usually want some group photos and couple portraits. It can be quite good fun to have a photograph of all your family in one place, and to look back in years to come and see how everyone has changed. However, I do think that if a lot of time is spent on taking formal pictures during a wedding, it takes away from the magic of the day. And it limits the time I have to take natural, relaxed photographs filled with emotion and interaction. That’s why I encourage couples to minimise the number of group shots and I work fast to get these done quickly.  That means you can get back to catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in ages or to playing with your niece.  And I can bet back to what I do best – capturing the essence of your wedding day.