Documentary Wedding Photographer

documentary wedding photographer

What is a Documentary Wedding Photographer?

A Documentary Wedding Photographer will tell the story of your day, through candid, unposed images.

This allows you to spend all your time with your friends and family, without any unnecessary posing or direction from your photographer.

A documentary wedding photographer is all about telling a story.

As a Documentary Wedding Photographer, for me, it’s about weaving the images together to tell the tale of your wedding.

You may look at this website and see that my work is different from “the traditional wedding photographer”.

This genre of wedding photography has several different names;

wedding photojournalism, documentary wedding photography and reportage wedding photography.

I don’t believe there is any difference between the names generally, apart from, perhaps, what the bridal magazines see as the fashionable way to describe natural, storytelling wedding photography.

However, as a Documentary Wedding Photographer I love photographs like this, for example:

For me, an image absolutely has to have context and tell a story to the viewer.

The following image was shot at a wonderful wedding at Wrest Park.

It’s far from traditional but tells a complete story.

It adds context to the moment if you like.

Of course, it’s important to get the key shots during a wedding, but I really love to explore the whole event.

In this image, the bride’s friends crane to take a peek at the bride and groom.

This is a moment she would never have noticed on the day.

But the moment has been captured for her to remember forever.

These types of moments are what drives me as a visual storyteller.

None of it is contrived. None of it is staged but all of it is real.

wrest park wedding photographer
Excited guests look down the aisle at the wedding ceremony
documentary wedding photographer
Dad lifts the veil of his daughter to mark the start of the wedding ceremony

A little more about stories within stories

As this Bridal Prep moment evolved and remembering I want to tell a “story within a story”, I moved away from the bride and to her immediate left.

This gave me a wider frame, and within that frame, I can build the story and fill in some context.

You can read more about how this particular set of images evolved over on my Why I Love The Wedding Pictures section.

It’s all about capturing the moments.

I go after moments that appeal to me from the inside and I strive to capture the emotions and energy of the day through the still image.

As that Documentary Wedding Photographer, I am at my most creative when left to roam around the wedding capturing those perfect shots of you and your guests.

The moments you may never even have noticed happening during the wedding day itself.

I strive to capture the beauty of the whole day and that includes your guests.

They are very important people in your life.

Once the magic of the wedding is over, it will be the photographs of the day that you will turn to time and time again to relive those moments.

Take a look at this Wedding Photofilm from Rickie and Will’s Wedding in the Dordogne that I photographed recently.

In three minutes, I feel this sums up my style as a documentary wedding photographer:

As a documentary wedding photographer, I aim to make your wedding photos a memory for generations to come.

I personally edit every one of the selected shots.

You are presented with only the very best photographs of your special day.

I shoot with digital equipment of course.

But my love of film images has led me to develop a post-production style that allows my photography to resemble that of the timeless film photos.

My photographs are purposefully edited to look like film images.

I use natural light and many people come to me because they appreciate the time and effort I put into the production of my finished images.

Shooting from the inside

Getting in the action is what a wedding photojournalist should be doing – all the time.

To my mind, wedding photojournalism dictates this mantra.

I want to make images like this, from every wedding I attend:

speak at a lot of conventions and educate about documentary wedding photography and a question I get asked a lot is:

Don’t all wedding photographers shoot in this way for at least some of the day?

I suppose, when you decant the matter further I explain that a “photojournalist” is a noun whereas “candid” is an adjective.

That’s a big difference.

I think all wedding photographers can declare themselves as “documentary” (at least for part of the day).

But how many can truly say they shoot in a “candid” style?

Candid is derived from Candour and Candour is described in the dictionary as:

“the quality of being honest and telling the truth”

So, if the photographer takes it upon themselves to control the moment, tell people to smile, ask them to fake putting their make-up on then, yes, I suppose you can be classed as a documentary photographer because documentary makers often contrive things.

…..but you can’t say you shoot in a “candid” way…..well, not authentically anyway.

I shoot in a candid way.  

I create documentary wedding photography with honesty, integrity and without any influence on you or your loved ones.

Essentially, it means a documentary wedding photographer (that shoots candidly) loves to tell stories, and that’s what I do best.

The details still count

Does a documentary wedding photographer take photos of dresses? Do they photograph the details of your day?

Yes, of course.

Wedding photojournalism is about telling the whole story of your wedding and the details are part of the story of your day.

Details such as locations and table decorations are all very important elements of the wedding day too.

A good documentary wedding photographer will set the scene

The location and scene-setting images throughout the day are crucial for the overall story.

Venue images are often the “glue” that fix all the sections of the day together

The venue should be remembered in the context of the story too.

I’ll often shoot the venue images during the wedding breakfast, or at dusk, to get a more atmospheric photograph.

Of course, these scene-setting photographs should include anything that gives the viewer an idea of location, season and weather.

It’s about Humanity.

As I talk about in the wedding portfolio page there is a constant theme throughout weddings, for me at least.

And that theme is; Humanity.

I actively look for moments such as the four above.

The fabric of these photographs is the element of “touch”.

The tenderest of relationships between bride and groom, or the bride and her father or any of the guests.

I am constantly watching for these moments.

They dramatically add to the story of the day but don’t take away from the emotion.

Documentary Weddings – The Quirky Moments

I’m a big fan of “people watching”

I really do try my best to blend into the environment at a wedding.

Using small, discreet cameras I can often shoot images where people simply have no idea I’m even there.

In fact, I’ve been a Fujifilm ambassador for several years now.

Honing this skill has allowed me to get glimpses into the personality of the people at the wedding.

“Totally amazed at how intimate these shots are.

Yet so many of our guests thought that we didn’t have a professional photographer there.“

Gemma & Martin

Documentary Weddings; a summary

So, hopefully, that has explained what, in my eyes, a documentary wedding photographer is.

I believe passionately that wedding photojournalism is about the story.

Documentary Wedding Photographer

It’s about the people.

It’s about the love between the couple but most of all, wedding photojournalism is about the moment.

The decisive moment in fact, as the great Cartier Bresson explained.

You can, of course, see more of my wedding photojournalism portfolio.

And don’t forget the documentary wedding photography blog.

documentary wedding photographer

There is a story, within a story in these frames.

Together, they tell their own little tale of a small element of the wedding day.