Almost everyone who searches to find their wedding photographer has heard of documentary photography/reportage photography. But what exactly is documentary wedding photography and what does it involve?
In this blog post, I will explain documentary wedding photography with examples from my own work. I will also dispel some myths about what documentary photography is NOT.
What is documentary wedding photography?
Documentary wedding photography is about capturing real moments as they happen. It is about telling the story of your wedding day through images, without interrupting or staging the events.
A key element of documentary wedding photography is that it should be unobtrusive. Documentary wedding photographers will blend in the background and capture natural moments and interactions between you, your guests, and your wedding party.
Documentary style wedding photography is about how it feels. A good documentary wedding photographer will be able to capture the joy, love, and happiness of your day – as well as the more candid moments like laughter, tears, and even frustration!
What is the difference between documentary wedding photography and reportage photography?
The terms ‘documentary’ and ‘reportage’ are often used interchangeably when referring to this style of wedding photography. However, there is a subtle difference between the two.
Documentary wedding photography refers to the act of documenting your day as it unfolds. Reportage photography takes a more journalistic approach and tells the story of your day through a series of images.
Both documentary and reportage wedding photography are about capturing natural moments, emotions, and interactions. However, reportage wedding photography often has a stronger narrative flow than documentary wedding photography.
Reportage style wedding photography | The art of storytelling
The point of reportage style photography is to tell a story of the day with pictures from beginning to end. Reportage wedding photography is about capturing the key moments and details of your wedding day and piecing them together to create a cohesive narrative.
A reportage wedding photographer will often take a more proactive approach than a documentary wedding photographer. They will be on the lookout for key moments and interactions that will help to tell the story of your day.
However, it is important to note that a reportage photographer will not stage or set up any moments. They will simply capture the events as they happen.
Reportage wedding photography is a mix of art and journalism. A good reportage photographer will have an eye for composition and be able to tell a great story.
What about family photos and reportage-style wedding photography?
A common misconception about reportage wedding photography is that it doesn’t involve any posed or group shots. This is simply not true.
While reportage wedding photographers will not stage or set up any moments, they will often take a more proactive approach when it comes to photographing your guests. This may involve asking your guests to move to a certain area for a group photo or gently directing them into position.
Group photos are an important part of most wedding days. They allow you to get all of your guests in one place at one time – which can be tricky when everyone is mingling and enjoying the celebrations!
However, it is important to note that a reportage photographer will take a more relaxed and informal approach to group photos. They will not line your guests up in neat rows or force them to smile for the camera.
Instead, they will capture your guests in a more natural way – perhaps chatting and laughing together, or simply enjoying the moment.
Wedding photographer documentary | Is a documentary wedding photographer right for you?
If you are looking for a wedding photographer who will capture your day as it unfolds, from the bride and groom getting ready in the morning, the wedding ceremony, speeches to your first dance and dance floor party in the evening, then a documentary wedding photographer may be right for you.
This style of photography is perfect for couples who want a more natural and candid approach to their wedding photos. It’s also ideal for couples who want to avoid the ‘cheese factor’ often associated with traditional weddings.
What are the benefits of choosing a wedding photographer with a photojournalism, documentary style?
There are many benefits to choosing a documentary wedding photographer for your big day. This style of photography is:
– Natural and candid: A documentary wedding photographer captures your day as it unfolds. This results in more natural and candid shots that truly reflect the spirit of your day.
– Storytelling: Documentary wedding photographers tell the story of your day through a series of images. This is perfect for couples who want to remember their wedding day in a truly unique way.
– Relaxed: A good documentary wedding photographer will be able to photograph throughout the day without being intrusive. This means that you and your guests can relax and enjoy your day without worrying about the photographer.
– Timeless: The candid and natural approach results in timeless photos that you will cherish for years to come.
– Creative: Reportage photographers are often very creative. This means that they can capture your day in a truly unique and artistic way.
Emotions | Bride & Groom first look
Before the ceremony
One of the most special moments on a wedding day is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time.
A documentary wedding photographer will capture the emotion of this moment without intruding or staging it in any way. This results in photos that are full of raw emotion and truly reflect the spirit of the moment.
Bride & Dad first look
Another special moment on a wedding day is when the bride sees her father and he gets to see her wearing her wedding dress for the first time.
This is often an emotional moment. In this image, I captured the dad’s reaction without him even realizing I was there. Photographing moments like this is what I love about documentary wedding photography.
Lastly, a wedding is not just about the ceremony and formalities. It’s also about celebrating with your friends and family. I love capturing the fun and atmosphere of the dance floor. This is one of my favourite images from a recent wedding.
As you can see, documentary wedding photography is all about capturing real moments and emotions. It’s the perfect style of photography for couples who want a natural and candid approach to their wedding photos.
If you’re thinking about booking a documentary wedding photographer, get in touch. I’d love to chat with you about your plans.
Gabriela is a documentary wedding photographer based in Worthing, West Sussex. She captures natural, candid, and emotive wedding photos throughout Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and beyond.