What is Documentary Wedding Photography?
Documentary Wedding Photography is best described as story telling through pictures.
Documentary Wedding Photography, also known as wedding photojournalism and reportage wedding photography, all labels that essentially describe the way I work, capturing natural un-orchestrated moments from the wedding day.
Telling a Story
I believe an image has to have context and tell a story, being a documentary wedding photographer is all about capturing natural, spontaneous moments between family and friends, moments they may never have noticed happening during the wedding day.
Unlike a traditional wedding photographer, who will perhaps only take a series of posed images at set points on the wedding day, a documentary wedding photographer will constantly take a series of natural images throughout the day, which, when viewed as a whole, can provide a true visual diary of the wedding day.
Please feel free to browse through the following gallery highlights from just one wedding, which demonstrate my wedding photojournalism approach to capturing natural moments throughout the day.
My Service: What I aim to capture throughout the wedding day.
As a documentary wedding photographer, it’s my job to capture genuine events from the wedding day, as discreetly as possible, without intervening and encouraging people to do things they almost certainly wouldn’t have done themselves otherwise.
Every wedding is different, the people, their personalities, some are bubbly, excited, laughing, whilst others are more introspective, reflective of the moment. To me, each has great value and meaning, showing the real person’s feelings, a glimpse of who they really are.
Brides Final Preparations
The first image shows a bride who was a little anxious and in a reflective mood, she had been working hard right up until the day before the wedding, so that she could have extended time away on honeymoon. This however, placed a lot of pressure on her, trying to balance work commitments with all the many arrangements needed to make the wedding a success.
I arrived at the family home to find the bride quietly having her makeup applied, her family just going about their business, the bride was a little anxious, her mood reflective, whilst she was getting ready.
At this point, a traditional photographer might have tried to impose themselves, and get the bride to pose, smile to camera, any number of things, resulting in forced un-authentic images, that don’t really portray anything real about the person being photographed, other than what the photographer’s idea of the moment should look like.
I however, did no such thing, respecting the moment, I left the bride and the family alone and just documented what was actually happening.
Here we see her sat in front of the dressing table having her veil put on, deep in thought, a beautiful, timeless image, that will remind the family in years to come what feelings she was going through, the morning of the wedding day.
I’m all about capturing genuine moments between family and friends, the image above demonstrates this beautifully.
Here we see the delight on the bride’s face when her father sees her in her wedding dress for the first time. What I love about this image is at the moment the bride sees her father, we can also see her father in the mirror’s reflection, standing in the doorway smiling at the bride. A simple, timeless image, that I’m sure will bring the memories of that moment flooding back in years to come.
The following set of three images are of an emotionally charged bride preparations, at Minterne Magna House, Cerne Abbas.
Here we see the bride take a look at herself fully dressed in the mirror, then gently start to cry, then from the other side of the room I hear a male voice whaling. I looked back to the doorway, and saw the bride’s father, his hands clasped together, tears starting to flow. He moves from the doorway, and walks to the corner of the room, trying to compose himself, totally overcome with emotion.
The Groom and Guest Arrival
The following set of three images shows what I most like to capture at the ceremony venue, when the groom is greeting family and friends, some who may have not seen each other for years. Simple, genuine, tender loving moments, shared moments of affection and laughter.
The Bride Arrival
The following image shows a nervous groom take in a deep breath, as he prepares himself for the bride to enter the ceremony room.
The following set of three images show the same pensive bride we saw earlier, preparing her dress with the aid of the bridesmaids, before entering the ceremony. Then she is being lead down the aisle by her father. Notice how tense she is, its simply palpable, how over whelmed and close to tears she is, she can hardly look at the groom. Then finally her veil is removed, she turns to the groom, they look at each other, it is at this point I notice a change in the bride, all that self doubt, worry just lifts away, she relaxes at the groom’s side, as they smile gently to each other.
I love this next image, showing the bride as she approaches the waiting groom, it’s all about the look, as she gains eye contact with the groom.
Or this next image, where the bride, having just been walked down the aisle to the waiting groom, lifts her head back, as she and the groom look into each other’s eyes, and simultaneously break out into big beaming smiles.
The next two images show the tension as the bride and her father wait just outside the ceremony room, the bride takes a deep nervous breath, her father full of emotion, fights back his tears. Whilst at the same time in the ceremony room, a very emotional groom waits at the top of the aisle, fighting back his tears.
The following three images highlight the love, happiness, and tenderness shared between the brides and grooms during the ceremony. From the couple who break out in excited smiles as they exchange rings, to the young couple who burst out in laughter and beaming smiles, or the gentle tenderness of the couple as they embrace the moment they have been been pronounced husband and wife.
The next series of images show a young happy couple, literally skipping back down the aisle, (which always brings a smile to my face), to the shear relief displayed by the groom as he and the bride are being congratulated by family and friends. Followed by more images of excitement and happiness, as the brides and grooms interact with the guests after the ceremony.
My Documentary Wedding Photography Service
I come across an increasing number of my wedding couples, who are not very comfortable with the prospect of having to continually pose and smile to camera throughout the wedding day.
However, they do realise the importance of having their wedding celebrations photographed. After all, once the cake has been eaten and the dress put away, the photographs are all they have left to remind them of those special moments for years to come.
They choose me, because they appreciate my unobtrusive way, and love those natural moments I capture between family and friends.
I love to document weddings in as natural a way as possible, with no intervention. However, I do recognise that some couples may wish to have a few small formal family group shots or Simply Posed Bride and Groom Portraits taken, looking to camera.
If this service is requested, I would be happy to do so, however, if you do not require formal groups or portraits, then I will happily continue to cover the proceedings in a candid documentary way.
If required, I believe that the formals should be a subtle, small part of the day, I work best when allowed to roam freely, following my instincts and the natural ebb and flow of the wedding day. Being presented with endless requests for formal shots and portraits, will hinder my ability to capture the natural events from the day.
Simply Posed Portraits
Only if requested, simply posed portraits of the bride and groom can be arranged, if required.
All portraits would be kept as natural as possible. I would offer some gentle direction, and will not ask the couple to do any weird, unnatural or embarrassing poses! I would lead the couple on a small circuit around the venue grounds or nearby beauty spot, taking in the scenery, whilst I quietly take their portraits.
Covering the speeches can be fast paced, but so rewarding, with a range of emotions on display.
Such as this next image of a tearful groom, whom, whilst talking about his new wife, broke down mid speech in floods of tears, I loved the amused reactions from the bride and the groom’s parents, and the reassuring hands of support, to help the groom get through his speech.
Or the emotions felt when loved ones who are not around anymore, get mentioned, hence the reassurance given to an emotional bridesmaid.
The next two images show the change in pace and mood, when the speeches turn to the best man’s speech, which grooms up and down the country dread, especially when the best man giving the speech is the groom’s older brother, who didn’t hold back, hence the utterly embarrassed groom not knowing whether to laugh or hide, he just glances sheepishly to his new wife, who is gripped with hysterical laughter, all at the groom’s expense!
The Evening Reception
This next shot captures all of the guests participating in a good old fashion sing song, I just loved seeing how genuinely comfortable they were in each other’s company, the place was buzzing and set the mood for the rest of the evening.
I love this next image, the moment when mother and son show such tender affection towards each other, a real honest moment, most importantly, not set up.
This next shot just tickles me, seeing two adult males patiently waiting to be served at the bar, whilst the young girls in their party frocks hold the barman’s attention, with requests for soft drinks.
After the hustle and bustle of the speeches, this father takes his young daughter to a quiet corner to enjoy the stunning views overlooking the Purbeck countryside, his young daughter however, was more interested in the small bits of rubble on the wall!
This elderly gentleman was so carried away with the live big band music, that he started to play some imaginary air instrument, with his eye’s closed. A lovely insight into this gentleman’s true personality.
The First Dance
Watched by family and friends, the brides and grooms take to the dance floor for their first dance, and the partying begins.
Being a documentary wedding photographer is also about capturing the finer details of your day. This can include the dress, room set up, table decorations, and the cake. I will photograph these details in the settings I find them, no fussing or moving things around.
Scene Setting Shots
I will also aim to show scene setting shots, to give an idea on venue environment, location, and even the type of weather being experienced on the day itself.
I hope the information and insights on this page, gives you a better understanding on my approach to photographing weddings as a documentary wedding photographer. It’s my passion, to capture real honest images using a natural unobtrusive approach.
If you are looking for Documentary wedding photography services, and like my natural wedding photojournalism approach, I would love to hear from you.
I am a Dorset Wedding Photographer, covering Dorset and throughout the UK. Please either contact me using the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call on 07713252725 for a chat.
Vicky and Ben Wedding Highlights
The following gallery illustrates my coverage from the bride’s final preparations, through to the dancing, highlighting my wedding photojournalism style, in capturing honest, natural moments, shared between family and friends.