DOCUMENTARY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO
So what is a documentary wedding photographer?
I hope you enjoyed the pictures on the slideshow above. The titles on those pictures are some of the defining elements of what Documentary Wedding Photography means to me. Observing and anticipating, weaving together a narrative of your day to hold your memories for the years ahead.
You will have no doubt seen the term “Documentary Wedding Photographer” used on many blogs and magazine articles and wondered what it’s all about. You may have also seen “Wedding Photojournalist” which is pretty much the same thing.
I think the best place to start is to show you a photograph that exemplifies Documentary Wedding Photography for me.
Here’s the bride arriving…
- The lighting is gorgeous – as she walks into church she passes through a shaft of sunlight.
- 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.
- The composition frames her between the heads of the congregation so our eye is lead straight 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.
Context builds detail around your story to 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.
6 great reasons to book a 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 agonizing 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
The Bride's Preparations
Working as a news photographer for much of my career taught me that every story needs to start somewhere, an introduction, a point at which to begin the narrative. The bridal party getting ready is perfect for this. Sometimes nerves, always excitement, it’s a magic couple of hours.
You’ll quickly get used to having a photographer around and soon you’ll be chatting as if I’m not even there (don’t worry, what’s said in bridal prep stays in bridal prep!). And I often pick up lots of family politics or friend dynamics which will stand me in good stead for later in the day!
Stages of the day - The bride revealed...
Keeping the dress a secret is a great tradition that most brides want to keep. But when all the preparations are finished and she’s all ready to go, it’s not just the dress that’s being revealed. It’s much more than that. It’s daddy’s little girl, standing there, transformed into a beautiful new woman ready to move on to the next stage of her life. And boy is that a powerful moment!!! So powerful in fact that as a daddy myself, it brings a lump to my throat just thinking about it!
The reaction of dad can be a surprise to everyone – especially him! Nothing is staged for this moment – how can it be? I’m usually completely invisible as they only have eyes for each other. Bridesmaids should have tissues on standby for this moment too.
Stages of the day - The groom getting ready
Easy when everyone’s getting ready at the same place or if it’s not too far from the bride’s house. If that’s not the case we can plan on having a second photographer. But more often than not the best pictures of the groom before the ceremony are when he’s already arrived at the venue and is making the last minute plans. I like to arrive 15 or 20 minutes before the bride so I can capture all the atmosphere and nervous anticipation.
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. In fact, in almost all of the weddings I have ever photographed, my flash hasn’t left my camera bag until the dancing starts.
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. Don’t let yourselves be led away by an anxious wedding coordinator telling you to move on to the next stage.
If you want to know about pricing or to get in touch jump to Pricing and Contact page.
The Group Photos - as fun or formal as you want them to be
Once you’ve had a chance to have a glass of fizz and say hello to everyone it’s time for the only part of the day where I need to take control. A few weeks before the wedding we will have decided on the family groups and I’ll be working from a list so you don’t have to think about it on the day. If everyone needed for these formal pictures is primed for where and when it shouldn’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes. Then you’ll be free to get back to the celebrations.
If you want to know more see this blog post… My approach to Family Groups.
Stages of the day - The Wedding Portraits
Then before you’re called for your meal we can go and shoot some wedding portraits. 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.
My background photographing politicians and celebrities for national newspapers has given me great experience for working quickly. It’s a wedding not a photoshoot so I make sure you’re back with your guests enjoying the celebrations before you know it. In about 20 minutes and with the minimum of fuss, we’ll have a gorgeous set of portraits in the bag.
If you want to see some full weddings have a look at my Featured Weddings page.
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.
I take a break while you’re eating. No one wants to see pictures of people chewing their food. 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.
Have you seen my Blog? There are loads of weddings published there which will give you a great idea about the kind of pictures you would get if you book me for your big day.
Stages of the day - The First Dance and the start of the party
This part of the day needs little explanation. 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! Once the magic and romance of the first dance is done, I’ll stay to capture a good selection of party pictures. 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 songs.
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 for instance. 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 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.
I am an active member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association. It’s an organisation that champions the qualities of documentary wedding photography. You can see my page here.
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 Castle, The Byre at Inchyra, The House for an Art Lover, Ravensheugh Log Cabin, Cornhill Castle, The Altskeith, Culzean Castle.