documentary wedding photographer

Documentary wedding photographer

When you are looking for a wedding photographer it is important you find one who works in a style that fits well with what you would like. My style of photography is best described as documentary wedding photography, other than for a handful of family photographs and some relaxed portraits of the couple I do not set any of the photographs up or interfere with the day. Instead I use my extensive experience in photojournalism and sixteen years wedding experience to capture real moments from your wedding day that you will want to treasure. Where I differ from almost all other wedding photographers is in my pure documentary approach, many photographers now use the terms wedding photojournalist and documentary wedding photography to describe a style of photography that is semi posed. It is much more difficult to photograph a wedding in a totally hands off way.

I photographed my first weddings in the late 1980’s as an assistant when I first became interested in a career in professional photography. Back then the photography was very staged and every photograph was created by the photographer. We worked to a list of very similar photographs at each wedding, things like a fake signing the register photograph and  a fake cutting of the  cake. During the wedding ceremony we would often sit outside, I was informed the ceremony didn’t make good photographs!  I have to admit I was put off wedding photography and settled down to a career as a newspaper photographer after completing the NCTJ in photojournalism.  I spent the next 12 years working for various newspapers and magazines, starting at a local newspaper (The Peterborough Evening Telegraph) and ending up working freelance for a press agency which saw my work regularly appear in The Telegraph and The Times. The work varied enormously from spending a day with Tony Blair on his election battle bus to more mundane work like a head shot for the financial page.  I also photographed the occasional wedding for newspapers, this would typically be a celebrity. Eventually I came full circle and in 2000 I left newspaper photography behind to start my business as a documentary wedding photographer. At the time most wedding photographs still worked to a shot list and set everything up. Today documentary wedding photography is very popular and I get around 200 enquiries a year, I now only photograph a maximum of 35 weddings a year as each one takes around 40 hours of my time.

documentary wedding photography

An example of documentary wedding photography

The way I photograph the wedding is as important to me as the end results, because if I interfere with a scene your memory is of the photographer setting up that photograph rather than the real emotions and memories behind it.  My photographs are often full of emotion and capture the relationships between people. My documentary wedding photography is about real moments will bring your memories flooding back.

There is a story behind every photograph I take, in the image above the brides father had just come to visit the bride in her room and it was the first time he had seen her in the dress. A photograph of just dad in his own wouldn’t have the same context so I positioned myself to catch the brides reflection in the mirror. The position of the mirror and the frame behind the brides father add to the composition of the image. All of this happened in a split second so often I don’t have a lot of time to think about the composition, this is something that just happens naturally for me.

documentary wedding photographer, bride in Venice

Bride on her way to the ceremony in Venice, photographed in the documentary wedding photography style.

I often work with small cameras (like the Fujifilm X-T1) that allow me to get into the heart of the action without people becoming camera aware, in situations like the photograph above the bride is deep in thought as she travels to the ceremony in Venice by boat. I do not want my presence to interfere with the photograph as I want to capture the real moment rather than something I created.  The resulting photograph will bring memories flooding back of her emotions from that time. Many people do not want a wedding photographer to take over their day, but would rather have the day captured in a natural way and this is what documentary wedding photography is about.

another example of documentary wedding photography, the bride getting ready. This photograph tells a story.

Documentary wedding photography captures real moments and real emotions.

I always smile when at the end of the day saying goodbye to the bride and groom they mention how they hardly noticed me. At a wedding I like to become part of the wedding rather than a stranger looking in, I work in a very quiet way preferring to blend in with the guests as I capture the day as it unfolds. My photographs work together showing the story of your wedding day.

A moment between the bride and groom captured in a story telling photograph

I take photographs that will mean something to you, before the wedding I give a questionnaire that allows you to tell me what is important to you. This ensures I photograph all the important people.

A beautiful moment from the wedding ceremony

If you have a preference for more black and white or colour photography please let me know, otherwise I tend to work in about 60% to 70% colour. I love black and white photography but weddings are colourful events. Documentary wedding photography works equally well in both colour and black and white.

Documentary wedding photography is about capturing a story of the whole day from getting ready to the dancing i the evening Each photograph tells its own story as well as being part of the bigger story.

Whether you choose me as your photographer or not there is only one chance to get your wedding photographs right so it is vitally important you put a lot of research into your wedding photographer, do not choose a photographer based on just a few photographs. My best advice is to look through several weddings of at least 50 photographs each wedding and ask yourself if this photographer has told you the story of the day, do the photographs trigger an emotional response? Do you feel like you attended the wedding as a guest?  Most importantly did the photographs make you smile?  Although everybody works to a budget this should not be the sole deciding factor in choosing a photographer as in ten years time the money spent will seem irrelevant. I show many hundreds of weddings in my blog so please take time to look through these starting under “recent posts” at the top of this page and you can view many more in the monthly archives at the bottom of this page, if you are looking for a particular venue use the search box. Only by viewing several weddings will you get a real feel for the style and quality of my work. The next step is to get in contact with me to see if I am still available for your wedding date, I can then also send you some more information about my prices and answer any questions you might have. You are also very welcome to make an appointment to come and view my wedding albums over a cappuccino, latte or espresso at my office in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire.

The first dance, I love the eye contact between the bride and groom.

In summary as a documentary wedding photographer I will photograph your wedding and present you with a beautiful set of images that will tell the story and show the emotion allowing your memories to come flooding back. I will give you the very best customer service before, during and after your wedding, the fact that 70 percent of my wedding bookings come from recommendations from previous couples is testament to this.