Documentary Wedding Photographer

During your search for a wedding photographer, you’ll have to face a few challenges. There’s the setting of the budget to make sure you’re getting the best value for what you want, choosing a photography style, and also making sure you build a good rapport with your photographer. Amongst this, you might also come across a few terms you’ve never heard before, and documentary wedding photographer is probably one of them.

Wedding Photography in Sussex by Moritz Schmittat
Wedding Photography in Sussex by Moritz Schmittat
Wedding Photography in Sussex by Moritz Schmittat
Groom being lift up by his guests on the dancefloor
wedding photo, throwing confetti
De Vere Wotton House Wedding Photography
De Vere Wotton House Wedding Photography
Groom being thrown into the air during wedding by guests
Wedding Photography in Sussex by Moritz Schmittat
Wedding Photography in Sussex by Moritz Schmittat

What is documentary wedding photography?

Unlike the images of wildlife and a David Attenborough voiceover that the term “documentary photographer” might conjure up, it’s nothing as serious as that! Documentary photography can also be referred to as reportage photography (my personal favourite) or even “wedding photojournalism” if you’re feeling really fancy!

Semantics aside, the concept is really very simple. A documentary wedding photographer will aim to take as many natural shots of you and your guests as possible, walking around unobtrusively to capture the real essence of the event. Your parents probably remember a time when photographers would line everybody up outside a church with a big wooden tripod and some awkward “say cheese” moments. Thankfully, things have come a long way since then.

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Advancements in technology

Thanks to the ever-developing photography field of technology, today’s cameras don’t always need a tripod and what feels like a whole studio trailing behind them! In fact, the cameras I use aren’t bulky at all; they’re small, lightweight, and mobile – perfect for when I need to dash from corner to corner to capture those essential natural moments.

So what counts as a “natural” moment? I’m talking about the laughter, the tears, all those teeny micro-moments that will pass us by without a second thought on the day itself, but will really stir up emotion when you look back. Let’s say it’s the first time the bride’s father sees his little girl in her wedding dress. You can’t get that moment back! My job is to be as far from view as possible but to capture this in the finest detail. Thanks to the advent of lightweight cameras and enhanced zooms, we can remember this moment right down to that miniscule tear.

It’s not just about the heartstring moments either – let’s not forget that weddings are supposed to be a lot of fun! Often you’ll find some guests just can’t stand still for a photograph or find the idea of smiling for a camera painful. In those instances, a documentary photographer can save the day! He or she will be there to capture those conversations, hitting the clicker at the opportune moment when the listener bursts into laughter. Sometimes the best way to capture the most natural smile is to get somebody when they’re midway through a belly laugh – just try remembering what it was that was so funny!

Recent Documentary Wedding Photography Galleries

The wedding of Sophie and Sam, Gate Street Barn Wedding Photography

Sophie and Sam

Gildings Barn Wedding Photography

Chloe and Eddie

Hatfield House wedding photography

Beverely and Vicky

Telling the story through photographs

Ultimately, the aim of a documentary wedding photographer is to tell a story. Your big day’s images should be able to have you and your loved ones look through and recount exactly what was going on in that particular moment. If somebody walks past and smiles for the camera, that’s great, but does it tell a story? Probably not. An authentic image of a bride beaming with joy while opening a wedding gift, on the other hand, is something to be treasured.

Brookfield Barn Wedding Photography

Jessica and Adam

Potten End Village Hall Wedding Photography

Charlotte and Luke

Hatfield House wedding photography

Beverely and Vicky

My documentary photography style

Whether you hire me to do an all-day still image photo shoot or want a video package as well, my aim is to be as invisible as possible. This is applicable across the board, from staying out of the way while the wedding party gets dressed, to setting up microphones around the ceremony room so I don’t have to disturb the vows.

You’ll see from my wedding blogs that each big day can be chronicled just from these documentary photographs alone. Not only do we want to remember the big moments like walking down the aisle and cutting the cake; we also want to cherish those intimate conversations, those old stories and precious reunions with old friends.

Incorporating portrait photography

Of course, one of the most important facets of being a documentary wedding photographer is to refrain from giving the guests instructions. However, you’ll likely want a few group shots of the key members of your family and friends, which is where my portrait photography style comes in.

We’ll discuss this in the lead up to your big day so that you can establish a ratio of documented photographs to posed ones, but as part of most packages, I also include a few posed or “portrait shots”. These are most often used in thank you cards, or you might see them framed around the home, but they’re ideal for either group shots or having one on ones with the couple.

I might ask the bride and groom to step outside to take a few portrait photos before they return to the party. This will not take more than 15 minutes and will never disrupt the flow of your day. Once that’s over, it’s back to being a documentary wedding photographer!

More documentary wedding galleries

Wedding photography at Tudor Barn

Barbara and Dwayne

Getting married at Artington House Guildford

Annabel and Dan

The wedding of Sophie and Sam, Gate Street Barn Wedding Photography

Sophie and Sam

Get in touch
Whether you’re looking for photos or video, my reportage style will make sure you have as authentic a shoot as possible. If you’d like to know more about what documentary wedding photography is, or if you want to hear more about my packages, please feel free to get in touch today.