What is a Documentary Wedding Photographer?

June 6, 2024

Documentary Wedding Photographers Capture Wedding Days Naturally

While not new to the wedding scene, documentary wedding photography is emerging as a highly sought-after style. Couples getting married are increasingly seeking photos that feel more authentic and real. After years of curated social media perfection, many of us crave something a little more genuine. Enter the documentary wedding photographer.

What Defines a Documentary Wedding Photographer?

Documentary wedding photographers operate from an observational perspective. They don’t interfere or interrupt what is naturally happening. Instead, they take photos throughout the day as it naturally unfolds. It’s more than just taking pictures; it’s about telling the story of your day through your images.

As a documentary wedding photographer, I focus on observing what is naturally happening around me. I aim to be unobtrusive, capturing the emotions of the bride and groom, the joy of their families and friends, and the excitement of the day itself without getting in the way.

Reassurance Instead of Direction

While many wedding photographers direct every part of the day—from posing to moving moments to better light—a documentary photographer repositions themselves around what is happening to capture it in the best way. When it comes to portraits, rather than placing the couple in rigid, manipulated poses, a documentary photographer offers reassurance.

Many people feel awkward in front of the camera. I don’t see this as a bad thing. I’m not aiming for perfection because it often leads to artificiality. I reassure my couples that they are doing a wonderful job, just as they are.

Benefits of Documentary Photography

Natural & Relaxed: Photos tend to be more natural and relaxed. Without being prompted to perform, you can enjoy your day without stressing over photos.

Experience the Day: When experiencing the day is more important than the photos themselves, you can relax knowing that the photos will reflect the genuine moments of your experience.

Timeless Editing: Documentary photos aim to capture events true-to-life. Editing will be minimal, preserving the authenticity of the moments.

Photo Variety: Instead of an entire gallery of posed shots, you’ll receive photos that reflect all aspects of the day, including candid moments and interactions.

What to Expect from a Documentary Photographer on Your Wedding Day

When a photographer shoots in a documentary style, they tend to blend into the wedding day. Expect them to be present throughout the entire day but mostly in the background. They will be unobtrusive, moving around their subjects rather than directing them.

  • Don’t micromanage with a long shot list: Trust your photographer to capture the day as it unfolds.
  • Provide a timeline: This helps the photographer anticipate key moments without needing to intervene.

Why Choose Documentary vs. Traditional Photography?

Traditional wedding photography focuses on portraits and creating perfect moments that showcase the decor and style of the day. Photographers who shoot in this style will direct their couples, set up scenes, and often ask them to repeat actions for the photo.

Documentary photography, on the other hand, focuses on storytelling. Photographers move around observing what is naturally happening, capturing true candid photos that tell the essence of the story. The focus is largely on the couple, guests, and the relational aspects of the day.

By choosing a documentary wedding photographer, you’re opting for a more authentic and relaxed experience, where the emphasis is on capturing real moments rather than staged perfection. Would you choose a documentary style for your wedding photography?

Documentary photo of family praying over a wedding couple
Grandmother greet Bride and Groom
Groomsmen moving flower arch
Bride and Groom at their wedding ceremony

Leave a Reply

Work with me

Now booking 2025 wedding dates.
Select 2024 dates available.

Inquire NOW

As your photographer, I’m intentional about letting go of perfection so your day can unfold organically, precisely as it was meant to. I’ll lean into my intuition to stand back and photograph you with my signature documentary approach: