What is a “documentary style” photographer?

“Documentary” photography is becoming a more common phrase in the wedding photography world, but it’s used so frequently, almost, that it can start to lose its meaning. Here’s what it means to me, and what I’m talking about when I say I use this technique: also known as photojournalistic or reportage photography, documentary is an approach that emphasizes capturing the natural, unscripted moments of a wedding day. Unlike traditional wedding photography, which often involves posed shots and staged scenarios, documentary photography focuses on genuine, spontaneous interactions and emotions. The goal is to tell a story through images, creating a visual narrative that reflects the true atmosphere and spirit of the event.

Capturing Candid Moments

At the heart of documentary style wedding photography is the ability to capture candid moments. These are the unplanned, authentic interactions that occur throughout the day: a tearful hug between the bride and her father, the groom’s nervous laughter with his groomsmen, the flower girl’s curious glance at the wedding cake. These moments are fleeting and often missed in the hustle and bustle of a wedding, but a skilled documentary photographer will be there to preserve them.

The Role of the Photographer

A documentary wedding photographer must be an unobtrusive observer, blending into the background to ensure they do not disrupt the natural flow of events. This requires a high level of skill and experience, as the photographer must anticipate moments before they happen, positioning themselves to capture the perfect shot without being noticed. They must have a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of human emotions and interactions.

I personally keep my eye sharp and my hands quick by expanding my portfolio into street and adventure / sports photography.

When it Comes Time for Portraits

Focusing on candid photography does not mean that I leave you hanging for your portraits. It does mean that we’re going to steer away from stiff ‘stare-directly-at-my-camera-while-I-move-your-hand-two-inches’ kinds of poses. Rather, I prefer to guide my couples through movements big and small to get the two of you authentically connecting with each other and your environment.

Storytelling Through Images

One of the most compelling aspects of documentary style wedding photography is its storytelling ability. A well-executed documentary wedding album will transport viewers back to the wedding day, allowing them to relive the emotions and experiences. Each image is a piece of the puzzle, contributing to a cohesive narrative that unfolds as the viewer progresses through the album. This approach ensures that the final collection of photos is not just a series of pretty pictures but a meaningful story that reflects the couple’s unique journey.

The Beauty of Imperfection

Traditional wedding photography often aims for perfection, with meticulously posed shots and flawless compositions. In contrast, documentary style wedding photography embraces the beauty of imperfection. It captures the raw, unfiltered reality of the day, including the unexpected and sometimes chaotic moments. These imperfections are what make each wedding unique and personal, adding depth and authenticity to the story.

Why Choose Documentary Style Wedding Photography?

There are several reasons why couples might choose documentary style wedding photography for their big day:

  1. Authenticity: For couples who want their wedding photos to reflect the genuine emotions and experiences of their day, documentary style photography is the perfect choice. It captures the true essence of the event, providing a more authentic and meaningful record.
  2. Relaxed Atmosphere: Because documentary photographers take a more hands-off approach, couples and their guests can enjoy the day without feeling like they are constantly posing for the camera. This leads to a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, allowing everyone to be themselves.
  3. Memorable Moments: The candid nature of documentary photography means that it often captures moments that would otherwise go unnoticed. These images can become some of the most cherished memories, as they reveal the spontaneous and heartfelt interactions that make the day special.
  4. Timeless Appeal: Documentary style wedding photos have a timeless quality, as they focus on genuine emotions and real moments rather than trendy poses or effects. This ensures that the photos will remain meaningful and relevant for years to come.

Finding the Right Photographer

If you’re considering documentary style wedding photography, finding the right photographer is essential. Look for someone with a strong portfolio that showcases their ability to capture candid moments and tell a story through their images. Meet with potential photographers to discuss your vision and ensure they understand your preferences and priorities. It’s important to feel comfortable with your photographer, as their ability to blend in and capture genuine moments depends on a trusting relationship.

Final Thoughts

In a world where perfection is often sought after, documentary style wedding photography reminds us that it is the imperfect, spontaneous moments that truly make our stories worth telling. So, if you want your wedding photos to be a true reflection of your day, filled with emotion and authenticity, this style might be the perfect fit for you.

If you think documentary style photography is your jam, let’s talk!

July 5, 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On your wedding day, I’m there to capture moments both big and small, while making sure you have as much time as possible to celebrate with your loved ones. I am inspired by storytelling, emotion, nostalgia, and all kinds of love, and aim to incorporate these into your wedding day. I'm the right photographer for you if you want to prioritize candid photos, and are particularly moved by albums that tell a full story. You have a little sense of adventure, and you absolutely can't wait to celebrate your love - no matter what that looks like to you. You share my values about respecting nature, and honoring all types of love, gender identity, and cultural background. If you're the kind of person who returns your shopping carts and waves at every dog, you might as well just hire me already. 


are we a perfect match?