Documentary Wedding Photography

Part Two – Documentary  Wedding Photography

Introduction to this guide for brides 
A light and easy to digest definite series on Styles of wedding photography and what they mean to you
Sub categorised names used to describe documentary style photography

Documentary  – reportage – photojournalistic – black and white photography – wedding photojournalist – in vogue style

Yes I wrote In Vogue style, it’s a fashionable and appealing term.
I going to keep this light hearted so hopefully you can keep up. I’ve been looking forward to writing about documentary wedding photography for some time. It’s an exciting subject and hopefully I will upset many photographers and wikipedia in writing what is essentially my findings on this style of photography. Over the last ten or twelve years I have happily observed this style of photography from the sidelines and the loose use of the words documentary, reportage, photojournalistic.

Documentary  Wedding Photography

And here it is, there’s a moment coming, it’s not here yet, it’s on it’s way, it’s in the future, you blinked it’s gone. Too late you missed it,  once in a lifetime moment in time gone forever never to be re-created again. Time waits for no man or woman with a camera. If only I had more time I could, I would, too late. I wasn’t in the right place at the right time i missed it, if only !
Would you like to try again, when? Now ! No ! When ! Too late, Then. When ? Soon, real soon, now, no not now, Now. 

Confused ? good haha. Timing is everything and prediction is everything at the wedding. Human interaction throughout an emotional day, small gestures and interactions all happening in milliseconds, can you sense when and will your photographer be ready. Only experience will tell you when, if you haven’t experienced it and you don’t know when, then you won’t be ready When ! How important are these moments to you ?
So lets tame these big words, documentary, reportage, photojournalistic. It’s Story Telling Photography, i know at first glance it may not sound as fashionable I’m sorry, but it really sums up the big words into layman/laywoman terms which essentially mean your wedding in documented by a photographer who’s style of photography is to tell the story of your wedding day. In it’s purist form ( documentary, reportage, photojournalistic ) Story telling photography is one hundred per cent observation with no interaction, as in news photojournalism for example. In most cases some time is usually still devoted to a limited number of family formals, albeit most story telling photographers don’t advertise this, but most are more than happy to do formals. Photographers who completely abstain from family formals may struggle with human interaction, may not know how to pose people or just be very shy. Wedding photography is not for complete introverts.

Contrary to whats written on wikipedia and I quote “Because photographs were shot on the fly, exposures probably weren’t optimum” .
The exact opposite is true when images are captured by a skilled camera operative. Most documentary wedding photographers weren’t born documentary wedding photographers, they learnt their craft in other areas of photography and have a great understanding of light and the tools they use. They understand story telling photojournalism and don’t use the term documentary wedding photography to hide behind inability. I said Most 😉  

What should you expect in the resulting pictures taken in a documentary story telling style ? 

In the day’s of Film the need for speed in lowlight conditions and at worst in mixed lighting led most photographers to shoot in Black and White, no distracting colour, clean focused Black and White pictures likened to a Hollywood or magazine feel. All newspapers had Black and White pictures, there was no colour. Now things have changed if your photographer shoots digitally he or she will capture everything in Colour and convert the pictures to Black and White in post production. One of the great things about digital capture is the flexibility to do both. Whether you have colour or black and white its really down to personal preference and most photographers now offer a mix of both in varying percentages. Some may even offer all images in both colour and black & white. Providing they can deal with mixed lighting conditions and colour balance the images in camera. 

What you really should expect is a competent photographer who has an great understanding of light and a sense of timing. Typing the word Documentary isn’t enough you have to be able to see it in the pictures and in the story board of a wedding. As with everything you can be passionate about a particular style of photography and feel that’s your preference. With regard to my own photography it’s a mix of both Contemporary and Documentary Wedding Photography, on average I’d say close to 85% Documentary and 15% Contemporary coverage, these figures are dependent on client preferences and vary in all cases. Every wedding is unique. 

And now some images,

Documentary Wedding Photography Documentary Wedding Photography Documentary Wedding Photography Documentary Wedding Photography Documentary Wedding Photography Documentary Wedding Photography Documentary Wedding PhotographyA few documentary wedding images, take a look at a full documentary wedding here

Next in the series 

What happened to my Wedding Dress ? ( An endemic problem, sponsored by Spec-saviours )

If you missed it here is my guide to Contemporary Wedding Photography 

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Your K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid) Wedding Photographer  Joe

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