If you’re newly engaged and starting to look for a photographer you’d like to hire to capture your wedding day, you may have come across this phrase “documentary-style wedding photography” or “photojournalistic wedding photography” in your searches. Maybe it’s peaked your interest a little bit and you’d like to learn more to see if this is the kind of photography style you’d like to hire for your wedding.
So what is documentary style wedding photography?
Documentary style photography is finding photographs instead of creating them. The photographer with this style will be watching events unfold in front of them to understand the narrative and then capture it in a way that documents that as accurately as possibly.
To flush that out a bit further, documentary style photographs are honest and full of emotion. It’s the photo of dad tearing up while he gives his daughter away and holding on to her hand as long as he can. It’s the photo of grandma holding up her iPad in the middle of the ceremony, blocking the view of everyone around her. It’s the photo of the groom comforting his bride by squeezing her hand during an emotional moment in her mother’s speech. Specifically on a wedding day, documentary style photographs capture so much love — I mean real, honest, pure, quiet, altruistic love. They might not be the photos you show the world, but they’re definitely the photos you show your babies and grand babies so they can see just how much love is present in their family.
Most photographers who ascribe themselves to this style will offer a mix of this candid approach with a slightly more editorial or posed style, but they often allow their client to share their preferences so they can create the right balance. If you hire this style of photographer, be in open communication with them about how much you want them to jump in and adjust things to make the photo look slightly better or when you want them to step back and document things completely candidly.
My approach to wedding days is a mix of documentary and editorial to bring my clients the best of both worlds. If you’d like to read about the editorial style of photography, check out the blog post on that one here: What Does Editorial Photography Mean?
Learn about my blended approach here