Documentary wedding photography


What is documentary wedding photography?

You might see the word ‘documentary wedding photography’ or reportage on lots of wedding photographer’s websites but what is it really? Is it a photo-journalistic approach without talking to the bride and groom? telling stories using candid pictures only in the album ? To be honest I think a documentary wedding photographer can be someone who captures a range of different photographs from static formal portraits through to family group photographs and relaxed candid moments. A true documentary photographer will capture the events as they happen in a candid and unobtrusive fashion but also will tell a story including family group photographs. The story needs to include family and friends enjoying the day but also formal documentary images.


bride with groomsmen at a wedding at stanbrook abbey

This is documentary photography. It is part of documenting what happened on the wedding day


Traditional wedding photographers are very good at documenting weddings even if they do not capture a single spontaneous image. They focus on documenting the day using static photographs – which is still documentary photography (in my opinion). I think what I am trying to say is wedding photographers can choose their own style and still document the wedding day. Do not feel you have to have every photograph captured without knowing the photographer is present. A good mixture of images ranging from candid moments to static formal group photographs will really matter to you in fifty years time when you are looking back at your collection of images.


leaving the church

This is also documentary wedding photography. A spontaneous moment that can never be repeated


I started photographing weddings in a documentary style about ten years ago. I never use to interact with the couple much or produce static formal images. I soon learn’t (it took about seventy weddings) that a better approach would be to focus on the complete wedding and not be tied down by one style. We started to produce albums and realised that the family group photographs and posed formal portraits were as popular as the relaxed candid images. I think that most couples that have booked me have been interested in the candid images. I bet if you asked them now they would agree that the family group photographs are just as important as the candid ones. My advice to any aspiring wedding photographer is “Make your own style, have a go at everything first”


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