How I work

Documentary wedding photography –
my approach

Documentary wedding photography 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 the photojournalism approach for me. It’s why I went to work at a national newspaper.
Documentary wedding photography
documentary wedding photography

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.

Documentary wedding photo

An honest eyewitness 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.

Not traditional wedding photography

What about all the

traditional bits?

Can you have the ‘traditional’ bits too – the bits people seem to think you need, but aren’t sure why? The posed up bits – pen over the register, posing holding the wedding cake knife…

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.

Key with documentary wedding photography is that it is meant to reflect the day. Not impose upon it. It is about capturing these moments naturally, which usually happens. They don’t need to be posed. I think that capturing these moments naturally leads to more interesting and poignant images. Capture not fake create.

Family group photos

Family group photos

Family group shots, are where ‘family pressure’ can often come into play. They can ‘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. Time lost for more natural wedding photography.

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 staging. A quick historical record.

So, yes, some family group photos can fit into documentary wedding photography. But just a few. 😉

Couple portraits at weddings

Not documentary?

the couple portraits

Couple portraits – no taking a couple away from the party for an hour. Ten minutes perhaps, and maybe a second ten-minute session if there is amazing evening light? Quick and relaxed.

Rather than the traditional upright, the dress carefully spread out across the grass, I take images that look to 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 natural picture!

Often the best picture is in-between the posed bit.

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

natural documentary wedding photography

How do I work?

I work alone.

I’m not invisible, but neither am I centre-stage shouting out orders. I also don’t pretend to be a wedding guest. Being ‘unobtrusive’ comes from 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.

A couple of cameras, a few prime lenses and my eyes.

This is documentary wedding photography. This is how I shoot…It is wedding photography 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

Evocative images that result from being an honest eyewitness to the wedding day