What is Documentary Wedding Photography?

First off, when you choose a Documentary Wedding Photographer you’ll be ensuring you can enjoy your day completely. No need to leave your guests for a staged photoshoot.

It’s the story of your day the way your guests saw it. The pictures are candid and unposed, moments of the day captured unobtrusively as they unfold naturally.

Documentary Wedding Photography, also called Wedding Photojournalism, is building up the story of your wedding with a narrative of pictures. It includes the big set-pieces but also the in-between moments. From the morning preparations to the party in full swing, it’s the unscripted reactions of guests, the unexpected surge of emotion, the knowing exchange of glances that create a story you’ll be returning to for the rest of your lives together.

A good way to explain further is to show you a photograph that exemplifies Documentary Wedding Photography for me.

Here’s the bride arriving…

bride arrives in church
  • The lighting is gorgeous – as she walks into church she passes through a shaft of sunlight.
  • The timing is decisive and the composition frames her between the heads of the congregation so our eye is lead straight to her.
  • Her emotions are there on her sleeve. She’s eager for a glimpse of the man she’s about to wed. Her tummy is full of butterflies. She is surrounded by the people in her life that mean the most to her.

It’s a moment that she’s been building up to for a long time. It’s a moment that will stay with her for the rest of her life. She’ll be able to return to this picture in the years to come and it will take her right back to the emotions and excitement she was feeling at that single moment in time.

Story-telling is the key

As a documentary wedding photographer, I will capture all the big show-stopping moments naturally and authentically. And maybe I’ll surprise you with some little gems that no one else saw. These are equally important in preserving your memories of the day and the people you shared it with. I will weave the pictures together into a compelling narrative that flows with your day. Just like a good novel, it will have you hooked until the last page.

I am observing and anticipating, tirelessly looking for moments that will become the fabric of your lives together. Sometimes where it went according to plan and sometimes not so much…

pageboy meltdown documentary wedding photographer
Dad with dogs

Context and detail enhance your story and enrich your memories

Context is a huge part of storytelling wedding photography. I try to create pictures that are full of interest and provoke a reaction in you or make you ask yourself “what’s happening there?” Pictures with many layers that I hope will reveal something different every time you look at them.

For me, context is what gives the picture time and place. It’s the stuff that surrounds you on the day. The people you chose to be there and the way they behave and interact with each other. It’s the location, the fun, the entertainment, the emotion, the little glances of reassurance or the touch of hands. All captured as it happens, in the moment, discretely and without interference.

pageboy meltdown documentary wedding photographer

6 great reasons to book a documentary wedding photographer:

  1. Minimal Posing on your part – nothing fake or awkward
  2. You won’t have to leave your guests for a long photoshoot
  3. No interference from your photographer throughout the day giving instructions
  4. The narrative covers the whole day, from preparations to dancing
  5. Pictures aren’t over photoshopped. Dark room style post production is timeless, authentic and never goes out of fashion
  6. Not just pictures of the couple. The true story includes your loved ones and everyone you chose to have around you.
pageboy meltdown documentary wedding photographer
pageboy meltdown documentary wedding photographer

Safe hands and a trained eye

My days on Fleet Street were fantastic preparation to be a documentary wedding photographer. I’m always primed and ready to capture the unscripted moments and anticipate people’s reactions as they happen in real time. I anticipate the unexpected, the big characters making all the noise, as well as the shy page boy, the quiet stories going on behind the scenes and all the little details you’ve been agonising over for so long.

My pledge to you is that I will work tirelessly throughout your day to build the layers that make up your wedding story in an honest and natural way so you can treasure them forever.

The World of Weddings through the eyes of kids….

Kids are a fantastic subject for photography, especially for a documentary wedding photographer. The uninhibited and uncomplicated way they react to the world makes them endlessly fascinating and a perfect reflection of the mood of the wedding.

Have a look at the photofilm below and see if you agree…

Stages of the Day

A Documentary Wedding Photographer’s Approach

Before the Wedding

Working as a photojournalist for much of my career has taught me that every story needs to start somewhere, an introduction, a point at which to begin the narrative. The morning preparations are perfect for this. Sometimes nerves, always excitement – it’s a magic couple of hours.

Stages of the day – The Wedding Ceremony

The main event of the day, the moment everyone has been building up to. This is the time to capture the anticipation growing and the atmosphere building. I aim to be there a short while ahead of the bride to photograph all this excitement.

Once the ceremony starts I am completely respectful of the importance of the moment and make sure I create no distractions nor obscure anyone’s view. My cameras have the most up-to-date technology and are completely silent and I would never use a flash during the ceremony.

Stages of the day – After the Ceremony and the Reception

A wonderful time for capturing the couple being congratulated by their nearest and dearest. Savour this moment, it’s very special.

Stages of the day – Wedding Portraits and Family Groups

As a documentary wedding photographer the main body of pictures you receive will be candid and unposed. Having said that, there is a place for a few couple portraits and family groups.

Have a look at the examples below and see what you think. My rule of thumb is if you feel awkward, the pictures are going to look awkward. There’ll be no fake smiles or complicated poses. Everyone’s expectations of this part of the photography are different so I will plan with you and advise on what’s going to be possible without spoiling the flow of the day.

My background photographing politicians and celebrities for national newspapers has given me great experience for working quickly and with the minimum of fuss. It’s a wedding not a photoshoot so I make sure you’re back with your guests enjoying the celebrations before you know it.

Stages of the day – Speeches

There’s a wealth of great photo opportunities at this stage of the day. The speeches always provide a visual feast with emotions often running high. Declarations of love, the antics of the best man and the crowd’s reaction to his jokes – good or bad!!! Everyone is totally relaxed, feeling the warmth and having a brilliant time.

Once they are done, I take a break while you’re eating. Although I never completely switch off and I often get some really cute pictures of kids running around. Or maybe a long-suffering dad who has been left holding the baby.

Stages of the day – First Dance and the Start of the Party

Once the magic and romance of the first dance is done, I’ll stay to capture a good selection of party pictures. I’ll use some lighting for the dance floor to freeze the action and I love to get in close amongst the guests pulling their moves! This is a big part of the story of your wedding day. Therefore, I make sure to do it justice before tiptoeing away to leave you to your evening.

If you have something happening later in the evening you can book me to stay on for a few extra hours. However, in most cases I have everything I need once the atmosphere of the party and dance floor action is captured after the first few tracks.

Have you seen my Blog?

There are loads more weddings published there and lots of useful information

So that’s my take on Documentary Wedding Photography

After your wedding, as the months turn into years and the years turn into decades, your memories of the day will be completely wrapped up in the photography.

The story created by a documentary wedding photographer will do much more than act as a way of reminding you who was there and what they were wearing. It will make you remember how you connected with the ones you love and how it made you feel.

The big moments and the little out-takes that no one else saw will form the different layers of a day rich in emotion and meaning. A skilled documentary wedding photographer will build up these layers in your wedding day story. So your wedding album will become a family heirloom. Your kids and grandkids will all know it and love it from cover to cover.

Thank you for looking through my Documentary Wedding Photographer portfolio

I hope I’ve given you a slightly better understanding of documentary wedding photography and what it could mean for you.

If you’re just starting to organise your wedding, please get in touch asap as dates gets booked up years in advance. I’d love to chat with you and hear about your plans.

Thanks also to all the couples who feature in this portfolio because I couldn’t have done it without you!

Thanks also to all the great venues who lay on such a wonderful experience. Some of them featured here include Myres CastleThe Byre at InchyraThe House for an Art Lover, Ravensheugh Log Cabin, Cornhill Castle, The Altskeith, Culzean Castle.