Documentary Wedding Photography – Explained!

In recent years, documentary wedding photography has become increasingly popular. As the newest generation of newlyweds embraces authenticity, they are moving away from tradition and treating weddings as glorified photoshoots. The nature of weddings is that there will be countless interactions and events throughout the day, some that happen as part of tradition, and others that unfold naturally as a result of humans being, well, human! As a documentary wedding photographer, my love for humans being humans is what drives my work. In my experience, the photos that my clients cherish the most are the candids. These are the photos that never could have been planned or put on a shot list.

What is a documentary wedding photographer?

A good documentary wedding photographer is much like a photojournalist. Their purpose is to document the day in its truest form, ie: without too much intervention from their end. Documentary wedding photographers focus less on posing couples and more on capturing more of what happens naturally on a wedding day.

The goal of documentary wedding photography is storytelling through imagery. If you can look at a wedding album and feel like you were there, then a documentary wedding photographer has done their job.

Are there different types of documentary wedding photography?

Documentary photography is an umbrella term for unposed or candid photography. Under this umbrella, photographers may have their own approach. Some will be “true” documentary wedding photographers, offering zero direction to the subject. Others will set up photographs to look candid and unposed, all the while the photographer is orchestrating the moment. To be clear, there is no right or wrong answer here. Photography is an art form, so it is all subjective! However, it is important to understand your photographer’s approach so that you know it will be a good fit.

Why documentary wedding photography?

1. Capturing a person’s true essence vs. their posed persona

Our generation was raised posing for the camera. Everyone has a camera in their smartphone. Most of us pose for the shot without even thinking about it. A documentary wedding photographer is an expert at being able to capture people in their most natural, relaxed state.

2. Your wedding day experience

Documentary wedding photography allows you to live in your wedding day. Other approaches may make your wedding day feel more like a photoshoot. In turn, you’ll get to collect that many more memories as you’re spending time with your guests and not treating the day as a photoshoot.

3. Your real wedding day memories

NYC wedding days are much like the NYC marathon. There are few moments to stop and soak things in, and often, there are multiple things going on simultaneously that you may not even realize you missed out on. A documentary wedding photographer captures the big moments like your first kiss as well as the small moments you may miss – like the flower girl sneaking icing off the cake, or mother of the bride crying during the father/daughter dance.

4. Timeless photos

When looking back at photos from several years or even decades ago, the ones that stand the test of time are always emotion filled, candid images.

How is documentary wedding photography approached?

Anticipating moments

Documentary wedding photographers are experts at anticipating moments and human observation. While you are being present in the reality of your wedding day, I’m noticing everything around you that you may miss.

Pure documentary vs. A Mixed Approach

I approach weddings with a goal of 80/20 candids/posed. I know there are traditional photos that are must-haves, like family photos, bridal party photos, and a classic portrait of the bride and groom. Throughout the course of the day, this could take anywhere from an hour to two hours of your timeline. For the remainder of the time, I approach weddings as a fly on the wall.

Multiple photographers

Having a second shooter is often a must for the style of documentary wedding photography. Getting different angles, storylines, and simultaneous reactions is crucial to telling the story of a wedding day.

Are you looking for a documentary wedding photographer? I love taking a documentary approach to weddings. Get in touch via my contact form to see if I’m available for your wedding date!

Hello  there!

I'm a wedding photographer. Welcome to my blog, where I share wedding planning tips, wedding and engagement photos, and my recent inspirations. If you'd like to work together, please get in touch!

I'm Georgia

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I cannot wait to hear more about you!

Thank you so much for your interest in having me as your wedding photographer! Once you submit this form, I'll be able to let you know if I am available for your wedding date. I limit the number of weddings I take on per year in order to give my clients the experience they deserve.

It is also important to me that we are a good fit for each other, so the next step will be to hop on the phone and get to know each other a little bit. 

candid, honest, & romantic Documentary Wedding photography