Documentary Wedding Photographer
What is documentary wedding photography (and what it is not)... and why I choose to photograph weddings with this particular style and approach.
I've been a documentary wedding photographer since 2004. During my photographic career I've seen many over and misused terms flying around the industry for different wedding photography styles, but none more contentious than ‘documentary wedding photography’!
It’s a term that has been so distorted that it now, unfortunately, conjures up images of wedding photographers draped in cameras with huge lenses ‘sniping off’ headshots like crazed paparazzi, producing isolated black and white portraits.
I would like to dispel that myth! Wedding photography documentary, contrary to all the misuses of the term, is about an unobtrusive approach to a style of wedding photography which seeks to avoid directing how the day unfolds, lets the couple and guests enjoy themselves and often leaves people wondering if there was even a photographer even documenting the wedding.
Wedding Photography Documentary
A documentary wedding photographer is often referred to as ‘reportage wedding photographer’ or 'wedding photojournalist' however essentially, they all refer to the same thing - an observational and unobtrusive approach to photographing a wedding. Put simply, each wedding I document with the same ‘hands-off’ photo style, allowing you to completely enjoy what will no doubt be one of the most important days in your whole life. Finding the right wedding photographer is an exceptionally important task.
Documentary style wedding photography records very genuine moments occurring throughout a wedding day. What's more, if the wedding documentary approach has been truly mastered, the style of photography collections and individual pictures will convey subject and scene honestly and with authenticity. For me, the aforementioned values far outweigh any qualities that, perhaps, a pretty but relatively meaningless portrait could...
Subjects, as with any documentary style photography, should be photographed within context, conveying the true story and atmosphere in pictures. Documented wedding images should be able to tell the viewer what is happening in the moment or scene without the need for any further explanation.
Weddings are an absolute gold mine for the discerning, documentary wedding photographer - the variety of emotions over the course of the day makes a wedding day really quite unique - the pre-wedding ceremony nerves and then the joy of being married, this is often followed by a touch of sadness when, perhaps during the speeches, absent family and friends are reflected upon, then wrapping things up with the high energy and elation of dancing and entertainment..
One of the most common reasons people want to have their wedding photos taken in black and white these days is because it lends a certain timeless quality to the photographs, a classic elegance almost that time cannot touch.
Black and white photography provides a wonderful range between the blackest of blacks and the whitest of whites. Bold and colourful makeup is no longer distracting and elements such as skin discolouration dissolve into the darkness, the subjects become more natural-looking and the simplest of images become a work of art. It’s not hard to see why many of the top fashion photographers have built their entire career on shooting almost completely in black and white. There are many very good reasons black and white photography has not been made redundant and still exists very prominently today.
Even from the earliest days of photography over 170 years ago, black & white photography has endured the test of time, even into the present day with the coming of colour photography. It has, over the years, proven itself as a stable part of photography. A part that isn’t going anywhere and only seems to be increasing in popularity with both photographers and the general public. The black & white photography legacy that was left by some of the greatest photographers such as Yousuf Karsh and Ansel Adams still inspires and encourages all types of reportage wedding photographers, both amateur and professional to work in black & white. In other words, black & white photography is seen as a beautiful art form that holds a great deal in the hearts and minds of both photographers, publishers and the artistic world and still survives to this day to help educate, inspire and move people from all walks of life in various different ways as these moments are brought to our eyes in a more artistic and emotive way.
So, why would you not want to have one of the most special days of your life captured in this thought-provoking, raw and atmospheric way?