What does Documentary Wedding Photography mean and what IS a documentary-style wedding photographer?
In case you didn’t know already – though it’s probably the reason you’re here – my photography style is to shoot natural, unposed moments that tell the story of your day in a timeless and artistic way which can be neatly described as Documentary Wedding Photography. I’m a wedding photographer specialising in stylish, candid, documentary-style photos – but that’s not much good to man nor beast if you don’t know what candid or Documentary Wedding Photography style mean, is it?
Short of going full David Attenborough or Louis Theroux on you, documentary-style means I will capture the day as it unfolds. I’ll follow the stories, the moments that are created as they’re created, instead of creating them for you. This means I’ll capture your day exactly as it was and exactly as you wanted it, led by you and the group of people you chose to spend your day with.
And by candids, I don’t mean fake laughing in front of a brick wall – I’ll be capturing the two of you and your guests as they are in real life, with no pretences, cares, or hang-ups. This is the case all throughout the day, from getting ready in the morning to throwing it about on the dancefloor at night. It’s also true when we take some time out to do couple’s portraits – even though it may seem slightly more set-up than the rest of the day, it’s still not a time for stuffy, starchy photos (nothing ever will be!). I solemnly promise that there won’t be any awkward waist-holding or standing 3 feet apart from each other – instead, together we can explore an area of your venue or nearby that will allow for some beautiful shots of you naturally. Not every photo is of your face, so try and relax into it – the way your hands find each other, a ripple of silk in the wind, the light streaming on your backs is all the kind of fleeting moment that I’m great at finding. As well as allowing for some gorgeous portraits, a bit of quiet time for just the two of you away from the momentous madness of the rest of the day can have totally magical properties. You did it, together. You’re MARRIED, guys! Congrats!
We can, of course, still get some posed group shots if it’s something you’d like as a memento of the day, but please note I ask for this to be limited. I do this for two reasons: one, they’re very tiring for you as the couple, constantly shepherding family and smiling continuously; two, you’ve worked tirelessly to create an incredible day for your guests with a wicked atmosphere, so you need to enjoy it too instead of spending hours stood outside with different formations of people. The time couples spent in days gone by on different group photos is usually much better spent actually talking and laughing with them at the reception!
Documentary Wedding Photography –
It’s easier said than done to say “just forget I’m there” but as the day goes on, this tends to happen – and it doesn’t offend me when it does! Most people are inherently shy in front of a camera, so to have a giant lens poking in your face and someone barking orders about how you’re standing is no fun at all – especially on a day that’s supposed to be a really happy occasion. I blend in with the vibe of the day, picking out those moments and details that you’ll want immortalised forever. For a photographer with a hands-off style, I’m all hands-on on a wedding day. When you get your photos back (I always advise an album – click here to find out why), there’ll be mementos of things you didn’t even know happened and moments you didn’t possibly think I could have known happened.
The best words of wisdom I have for these kind of moments – other than forgetting I’m there, obviously – is to just live your day to the fullest and unapologetically. Enjoy the day for what it is – don’t stop smiles from creeping in, hug your friends tight, sing your favourite songs at the top of your lungs. Don’t force yourself into some Wile-E-Coyote-in-a-wall style mould of a couple getting married and what you think they would do; instead do what you feel is you. That’s why everyone’s here, after all!
And if you’re still worried about candid Documentary Wedding Photography at your wedding, I always advise for couples to have an engagement shoot in advance of the day – to get (more) comfortable in front of the camera and to get to know me. I’ve written about why these are a fab idea here.