Why Documentary Wedding Photography Matters
For many couples, the search for a wedding photographer can be a difficult one. There are countless photographers out there, each with their own style. Documentary wedding photography is a disciplined approach that documents, or tells the story of, a wedding day.
Some people associate the words “documentary style” with low-quality, black-and-white-only images or random candid photos. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Documentary approach to weddings is a disciplined approach that requires a observant eye, a lot of patience, and the idea of creating a narrative to tie all the chaos together. It’s not just blindly firing off frames and hoping; it’s calculated planning in combination with a bit of luck and a whole lot of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
What Is Documentary Wedding Photography?
True documentary wedding photography isn’t just “unposed posing.” It’s beyond that. In true documentary style, it’s letting things happen with me, as your photographer, being present and focused on capturing moments. It’s about putting the photographs together to create a cohesive story—your wedding day story.
As a documentary wedding photographer, I don’t want your wedding album to consist only of posed photos of you looking into the sunset or standing on a hill with the sun in the background. Yes, those are beautiful images. But I want you to remember the beauty in all of the moments of the day: your maid of honour holding your train as you look into the mirror; you and your new spouse stealing a kiss; the pride in your grandma’s eyes as she sees you in your dress for the first time; and the hug you give your parents during your tea ceremony.
A lot of photographers say their approach is candid and natural. But often, their images are posed shots in which they ask the couple not to look at the camera, then tell them to look at each other and laugh. That’s one approach. But that isn’t documentary; that’s not a true candid.
Creating great documentary photographs can really difficult. As your wedding photographer, I have no control over things; I’m there to document the chaos and provide the true, authentic and honest photographs you wouldn’t get if I stopped and posed the moment. While I will direct a couple during the formal photographs, the rest of the day I am completely hands-off.
At the end of the day, I don’t want you to remember being photographed; I want you to remember your wedding day as it happened.
Why Would I Choose a Documentary Wedding Photographer?
Maybe you’ve seen a lot of wedding photos that feature model brides in flower crowns. But you’re not really into flower crowns. You’re not superficial and you probably don’t want to be a princess on your wedding day. You want to look good—and you will—but you also want to look like, well, YOU. And you want photographs that will endure in the long term (no photo-shopped velociraptors for you!) and that truly capture the essence of the day.
Documentary wedding photography isn’t about capturing just mountains or posing the rings and flowers in superficial ways. Documentary wedding photography is about capturing the essence of humanity through photographing emotions, relationships, humour, hugs, tears and most importantly: taking the normal events of the day and making them into amazing stories to share with others and future descendants.
Why does Documentary Wedding Photography Matter?
When you, or your children, or your future grandchildren look at your wedding album, will they see static poses? Will they see beautiful mountains and landscapes with you and your spouse somewhere in there? Or will they see authentic, candid moments to tell them who you really were that day?
You don’t know how important you are to the people you will never meet. Imagine somewhere down the line you may have great-great-grandchildren. Without you, they would never exist. Don’t you think they’d want to see a genuine, historic window into your life? Why not gift them with an authentic keepsake that connects their hearts, their stories, to yours?
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