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.

I saw the bride and groom going in for a kiss but also noticed that the bridesmaids were going to walk in front of me as this happened. I timed it so that this layered candid moment could come together.

I saw the bride and groom going in for a kiss but also noticed that the bridesmaids were going to walk in front of me as this happened. I timed it so that this layered candid moment could come together.

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.

Not Your Typical Wedding Photo. I turned around while the First Dance was going on and saw this scene happening. I lined up the shot and took the frame before turning back around to concentrate on the bride and groom.  Taken while seconding for Ryan Flynn Photography - thanks bro.

Not Your Typical Wedding Photo. I turned around while the First Dance was going on and saw this scene happening. I lined up the shot and took the frame before turning back around to concentrate on the bride and groom.
Taken while seconding for Ryan Flynn Photography - thanks bro.

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?


DOCUMENTARY EXAMPLES:

Literally no direction given here. I was just present with the bride and bridesmaids while the  primary photographer (Yinger Fotokrafie)  was taking other photographs. I saw the bridesmaid hold the veil of the bride and quickly snapped this photo before the moment was gone.   Taken while seconding for Yinger Fotokrafie.

Literally no direction given here. I was just present with the bride and bridesmaids while the primary photographer (Yinger Fotokrafie) was taking other photographs. I saw the bridesmaid hold the veil of the bride and quickly snapped this photo before the moment was gone.

Taken while seconding for Yinger Fotokrafie.

This photo is all about the expression of the girls in the lower left corner.

This photo is all about the expression of the girls in the lower left corner.

My approach to wedding details is to capture them throughout the day and as part of the event. Here I focused on the couple holding hands while a speech (or a video?) is being done. When you see this in the context of the semi-finished dessert plate and the table setting and wine glasses, you get a whole story in one photograph.

My approach to wedding details is to capture them throughout the day and as part of the event. Here I focused on the couple holding hands while a speech (or a video?) is being done. When you see this in the context of the semi-finished dessert plate and the table setting and wine glasses, you get a whole story in one photograph.

During the signing of the wedding papers, usually there are photos taken where the bride/groom will sign, look up and everyone poses while the photographer takes the photo. Those are fine photos but they break the flow of the day and honestly… it kind of drives me nuts. I was quite close to the signing table and started to take photographs as things were happening when I saw this moment come together and quickly shot it before it was gone.  As a Documentary Wedding Photographer, I love these complex and deep photographs as it takes a while to really see all that is going on and therefore you sense the story within the photograph.

During the signing of the wedding papers, usually there are photos taken where the bride/groom will sign, look up and everyone poses while the photographer takes the photo. Those are fine photos but they break the flow of the day and honestly… it kind of drives me nuts. I was quite close to the signing table and started to take photographs as things were happening when I saw this moment come together and quickly shot it before it was gone.
As a Documentary Wedding Photographer, I love these complex and deep photographs as it takes a while to really see all that is going on and therefore you sense the story within the photograph.

Documentary Wedding Photography isn’t just about capturing moments flatly. Sometimes I’ll be creative about the composition or try something different to tell the story in a unique way, all the while not interfering with the moment. Here the event planner discusses with the wedding party about some of the details. As I was watching the scene unfold, I saw their reflection on the window of the wine room and took this photograph.

Documentary Wedding Photography isn’t just about capturing moments flatly. Sometimes I’ll be creative about the composition or try something different to tell the story in a unique way, all the while not interfering with the moment. Here the event planner discusses with the wedding party about some of the details. As I was watching the scene unfold, I saw their reflection on the window of the wine room and took this photograph.

Sometimes, when you’re attending a long wedding day, you feel like this kid right here. As a Documentary Wedding Photographer, I combine my Street Photography and Documentary Photography eye and my passion for weddings to not only create photographs of the bride and groom but to also tell real authentic stories through the photographs I take on that day.

Sometimes, when you’re attending a long wedding day, you feel like this kid right here. As a Documentary Wedding Photographer, I combine my Street Photography and Documentary Photography eye and my passion for weddings to not only create photographs of the bride and groom but to also tell real authentic stories through the photographs I take on that day.

As a Documentary Wedding Photographer, my focus is not to pose you for hours on end on your wedding day. Here, as I followed the bride and groom to JJ Bean, I saw the bride sit down after getting a coffee and placed her in between the photo frame and the window frame. Even in the midst of all the happenings of the wedding day, I aim to create interesting in-the-moment candid photos that aren’t just cameras clicking at everything but instead intentionally creating artistic photos through candid documentary moments.

As a Documentary Wedding Photographer, my focus is not to pose you for hours on end on your wedding day. Here, as I followed the bride and groom to JJ Bean, I saw the bride sit down after getting a coffee and placed her in between the photo frame and the window frame. Even in the midst of all the happenings of the wedding day, I aim to create interesting in-the-moment candid photos that aren’t just cameras clicking at everything but instead intentionally creating artistic photos through candid documentary moments.

I’ve taken many many photographs of the wedding shoe game (where the bride and groom take off their shoes, give their shoes to the other and use the shoes to answer questions such as ‘Who is the most messiest person in the marriage?’ for example) and it’s always fun to see reactions. In this case, though, I saw the bride handing her shoe to the groom and right in the midst of the handoff I quickly took this frame before the moment was gone. As I mentioned, Documentary Wedding Photography is all about timing but also a bit of luck also sensing and anticipating moments happening. I think I saw bits of this moment begin to happen and within a second I had to make a snap decision to capture it.

I’ve taken many many photographs of the wedding shoe game (where the bride and groom take off their shoes, give their shoes to the other and use the shoes to answer questions such as ‘Who is the most messiest person in the marriage?’ for example) and it’s always fun to see reactions. In this case, though, I saw the bride handing her shoe to the groom and right in the midst of the handoff I quickly took this frame before the moment was gone. As I mentioned, Documentary Wedding Photography is all about timing but also a bit of luck also sensing and anticipating moments happening. I think I saw bits of this moment begin to happen and within a second I had to make a snap decision to capture it.

Another example of using reflections to create something unique. No direction given to the couple or anyone else but I did have to angle myself JUST right as the event planner swung open the door.

Another example of using reflections to create something unique. No direction given to the couple or anyone else but I did have to angle myself JUST right as the event planner swung open the door.




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