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REPORTAGE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

REPORTAGE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY – MY APPROACH

Documentary or reportage or wedding photojournalism. It’s a style that has got a few names. You see it bandied about a lot – often when it bears no relation to the actual images. But it’s my approach. It’s the only way I photograph a wedding day. Photography has always been about photojournalism for me.

What is it?

It is uncontrived, observational, natural, honest. The opposite of the tired, traditional A-B-C of wedding photography, which still lurks in the public imagination when they think of what wedding photography is about.

I capture the wedding without imposing upon it, and without the  countless setup images  that some think are ‘needed’ for wedding photography. I record a narrative that captures the atmosphere of the day. A series of images, that combine to tell the story: the moments you saw, the moments you missed. Moments you don’t have to miss, because through my photos you can enjoy them later. Real memories of the day, as they happened.

AN HONEST EYE WITNESS TO THE DAY

 

Documentary wedding photography is just that – it’s about capturing memories. That look, that smile, those tears, that brief moment frozen in time. Real memories, real emotions. It’s not about posing in front of the wedding car, or holding a pen above a blank registry book or standing in line for a group photo, for hours on end.

I come as an eye witness to the wedding day. Watching all aspects of the day and creating a framework of images, so that someone who wasn’t there, should be able to look through these photos and feel that they had been.

ALL THE TRADITIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY BITS?

Not traditional wedding photography

 

Can you have the ‘traditional’ bits too – the bits people seem to think you need, but aren’t sure why? To be perfectly honest… no, not really – not if you really want the best from your documentary wedding photos. You miss the opportunity for images of real moments. You miss actually experiencing the day and letting the photography quietly capture this.

Group shots, are where ‘family pressure’ can often come into play. They ‘expect’ these shots. But it is the couple who has to stand there the whole time – as time ticks by – missing out on celebrating with their friends.

Most of the couples who book me want no formal group shots at all, or no more than two or three of just immediate family, shot quickly and informally – no elaborate ‘Vanity Fair’ style arrangements with chairs, etc. I talk about group shots a bit it more here.

The photography is meant to reflect the day. Not impose upon it.

So here are some things I don’t usually do:

Portraits of the bride in the back garden. Posing up the bride outside the church. The posed up signing the registry picture. Stopping a couple as they come down the aisle. Shouting at everyone to arrange the confetti/groups shots outside. Posed up shots with the wedding car. Posing with the cake. Posed up shots of the wedding guests in the reception, drinks in hand. Pictures of all the guests posing for the camera at each table…

Why? Because it’s about capturing these moments naturally, which usually happens. Look at the images above. They don’t need to be posed. I think that capturing these moments naturally leads to more interesting and poignant images.

Walking up to the church, walking down the aisle, dodging the confetti, reaching the wedding car, guests chatting during the reception – all these things are captured at their spontaneous best. The only time I intercede and ‘pose’ anything, is the couple portraits.

NOT DOCUMENTARY? THE COUPLE PORTRAITS

Bride and groom portraits

 

Now some documentary wedding photographers don’t do portraits. I don’t go along with this. But neither do I take a couple off for an hour. Ten minutes perhaps, and maybe a second ten-minute session if there is great evening light.

Rather than the traditional upright, the dress carefully spread out across the grass, I take images that show the couple’s relationship. I find the right light and then shoot around it, with just a smidgen of direction. Some couples need more than others. Some just need to be told to stare into each other’s eyes…they burst out laughing…and there’s the picture! For others it’s a quiet moment, during the wedding reception, to look at each other and realise, they have done it! They’re married! Captured by a camera.

It’s the non-documentary few minutes of the day…

HOW I WORK?

I work alone. I’m not invisible, but neither am I centre stage. I also don’t pretend to be a wedding guest. Being ‘unobtrusive’ relies on the way you work, and a major part of this is that it’s just me.
No second shooter. I am telling the story of the wedding day through my eyes – that’s what captures the images you see on this website.

Frankly, I don’t look like Brad Pitt – people ignore me. That’s what I want. Brad would be rubbish at reportage wedding photography!

Similarly, any ‘unobtrusiveness’ is dispelled when there is a videographer (or two) present there too. It restricts my movements and angles and can seriously inhibit how I shoot. The documentary approach needs the freedom to move – restricted by some ceremonies as it is. The freedom not to have to worry about videographers getting in my shots or me in theirs. Few videographers really get the documentary approach, although there are a couple of good ones who work like photographers. (Ask if you’d like a name?) But from experience I know I can get the best results, from weddings, where it is just me.

Do I get everything and everyone? No. Does that matter? Not really. I ask my clients for any particular priorities they have, and get what matters.

I am creating a photo essay to evoke memories, as an eyewitness. I am working for years hence – for when you want to look back, and the power of good photography shows it’s true value.

A couple of cameras, a few prime lenses and my eyes. This is documentary wedding photography. This is how I shoot….

It’s not for everyone. Those couples that want long lists of group shots and to pose in front of the wedding car, it’s not for them. They’ll find plenty of wedding photographers for that sort of coverage.

But it is for those people who just want to enjoy their wedding day and then look back at images that captured that enjoyment, often without them knowing when a picture was taken.

Natural wedding photography
Unposed, uncontrived, unstuffy – natural.
Evocative images that result from being an honest eyewitness to the day

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