Why Choose a Documentary Wedding Photographer?
You may have done your research and know exactly how you want a photographer to capture your day. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by all the styles of photography and the sheer number of photographers out there. Perhaps you need a little clarity on what sets a documentary wedding photographer apart from any other type of photographer. Maybe you’re pretty clued up but want to know if documentary photography will be right for you?
You might hear documentary wedding photography referred to as reportage, wedding photojournalism, or candid wedding photography. There are subtle differences between all of these terms, but broadly they amount to the same thing; a photographer who focuses on capturing your wedding day without any intervention, direction, or influence. Imagine that your photographer is a fly on the wall, and focuses on genuine moments. The interactions between your guests and the tiny gestures as well as the big moments. This is all done without interrupting the natural flow of the day. If this sounds like how you want your day to be captured, documentary wedding photography might be right for you. Below I’ll talk more about documentary wedding photography in general, but also my style and way of working.
I like to show humour in my work. I look for the unexpected moments and a different perspective on the familiar traditions. The story I want to tell of a couple’s day is the honest one, uncontrived and unpretentious.
If you haven’t done so already, take a look at my “Best of” posts. For the past 8 years, I’ve created an end-of-year round-up to show my favourite images from the year. These will give you an idea of how and what I photograph at weddings. You can read thousands of wordy posts on what documentary wedding photography is, but words alone shouldn’t influence your choice; you should connect with the images and think, “yes, I want our story to be told like this”.
Capturing moments, big & small
I will capture the big moments but not in a formulaic or contrived way. An example of this might be “the wedding car shot”. Traditionally the couple would stand in front of the car and the photographer would take a posed picture. Whilst this might be the ideal photograph for the car hire company to advertise their wares on their website it doesn’t tell your story. When you look back on that photo in years to come, the chances are your memories from that moment will be the photographer directing you and creating the moment. A documentary wedding photographer will photograph your wedding car, but with context and as part of the narrative to your day.
Telling the whole story
It’s not all about you. I mean this is the nicest possible way! It’s your day and you should – quite rightly- be the centre of attention. However, you are just two characters in the story of your wedding day, and you have a supporting cast! Your friends and family; the people who love you and are there to celebrate with you. A good documentary wedding photographer will tell not only your story but a thousand little stories. Stories with your friends and family at the heart of them. Capturing the quirks and character traits of your loved ones, so that when you look back at your photos, you’ll say, “that’s SO him!”
A reportage style that captures the moments that you might have missed
This goes hand in hand with what I wrote above. Try as you might, you can’t be everywhere on your wedding day; there will be moments you miss. Maybe there’s an animated conversation between your wildest friend from uni and your reserved Auntie Sue, your nephew licking the wedding cake when he thinks nobody is watching, or your dad busting out some moves to The Rolling Stones on the dancefloor. (I have this one stored in my memory bank from my sister’s wedding back in 2003). At every wedding, I will hunt down these moments and capture them in a beautifully framed, skilfully timed photograph. Usually, the subjects of the photo aren’t even aware they’re being photographed, and the image will be cherished by them as much as by you.
Expect the unexpected
The best thing about weddings for me is that each one is a blank canvas. I love watching social interactions and find people endlessly fascinating. I am so passionate about documentary wedding photography and I’ve been ranked as the Top Wedding Photojournalist in the UK twice by the WPJA. This gives my couples confidence that they are entrusting their memories to a skilled moment catcher! I always put human interaction at the forefront of every image, so it’s difficult to repeat myself, or create clichés because I never know what people are going to do. As a bride of mine, Alice, recently said to me, “we absolutely love the humorous style of your photography and we’re so excited to see what you end up finding on the day!”
Documentary Wedding Photography Tells the Full Story of Your Day
I shoot with Canon cameras and lenses, and always have, right since the days when I shot on film. Canon has interviewed me twice, once for this article on My Top Wedding Photography Tips and once for their magazine. Reading them might give you a more detailed understanding of how I work, my wedding photojournalist style, and what I look for at weddings.
When we were right at the start of planning our wedding, we listed all of the things that were most important to us. The photography was top of the list. Above food, above ‘the dress’.. yes! We are so happy that we found Lyndsey. Her photographs were beautiful. Wonderful (and varied) moments of emotion and humour captured with an amazing eye for lighting and composition. They were exactly what we had hoped for, and more! Nothing felt staged, and for the most part, I had no idea where she was at any given moment – and yet somehow she captured all of the important things. All of the things I remembered, and a whole bunch of things I hadn’t even noticed!
We dreaded the ‘couples portraits’ aspect of wedding photography. However, they were also very important for us because we have very few pictures of us together. We’re usually behind a camera, not in front of it… but we needn’t have worried. We weren’t posed or given cues to laugh or look at each other lovingly, or asked to hold up signs saying ‘L O V E’. Lyndsey just asked us to stand somewhere, and then vanished far away for a bit while we chatted. Then somehow emerged with gorgeous photos of us!
On the day she was friendly and personable. (no surprises there, we met up in person several months beforehand and she was lovely then too!), and all of the guests loved her. You can tell that everyone felt comfortable and didn’t even notice the camera. If you‘re looking for a photographer who will capture genuine images of your day, nothing airbrushed or stilted – and yet somehow still looking like they belong in a gallery – this is your woman. Can’t recommend enough! “Imogen & Stephen – Married at The Admiral’s House, Greenwich
Want to see some more pictures, find out more about how I work, or get an idea of costs? Hit the links below.