What to Expect with Documentary Style Wedding Photography

April 5, 2024

Documentary style wedding photography showing a couple holding hands and standing together during their wedding ceremony.

Your wedding day is really a unique blend of memories, emotions, and moments that unfold in the most unpredictable and magical ways. Among the many choices you’ll face as you plan your wedding, one of the most impactful will be how those moments are photographed. This is where documentary style wedding photography comes into play!

As a Pennsylvania wedding photographer, I’ve had the joy of capturing moments for many couples on their wedding day in a variety of different styles. From candid wedding photography to documentary style and everything in between, I’ve really seen it all! I’m here to share what I’ve learned with you in this blog post.

So, what are you waiting for? Keep reading to learn all about what documentary style wedding photography is as well as what to expect when working with a photographer in this style so you can best prepare.

What is Documentary Style Wedding Photography?

But first, before we dive in, let’s do a quick refresher on what this style of wedding photography is. Documentary style wedding photography, also sometimes known as a photojournalistic approach to wedding photos, is an art form that prioritizes the authentic storytelling of your wedding day.

This approach tends to push those staged and posed photos to the side and opts for more candid photos with natural lighting, ensuring that raw emotions and unscripted events are photographed as they unfold. A documentary wedding photographer operates a bit more like a fly on the wall, just observing and documenting your day. The result of this is photos that are deeply personal and really emotionally-powered.

What to Expect with a Documentary Style Photographer

There will be an emphasis on candid moments

One of the best aspects that you can expect when working with a documentary style wedding photographer is an emphasis on candid moments. This means your photographer will constantly be on the lookout for genuine expressions, spontaneous laughter, and subtle exchanges that naturally occur throughout your wedding day.

Instead of orchestrating poses and arranging where you stand, they’ll blend a bit more into the background, really just photographing your day as it organically unfolds. This focus on authenticity means that when you look back at your photos, you will relive the true emotions and remember the details of your wedding day even more.

The approach will be based on storytelling

Documentary style wedding photographers are also storytellers. This means that they will weave the story of your wedding celebration throughout your images, which results in a really cohesive album and gallery. Each photograph taken is a piece of a larger story. Your story.

From the quiet morning preparations as you and your partner get ready to the fun dance floor at night, your photographer will be focused on capturing the sequence of events, emotions, and details that tell the tale of your wedding.

Expect minimal posing

If you get nervous being in front of a camera, then you are going to love documentary style wedding photography. You can expect minimal posing! The approach is really about photographing the natural flow of events and the spontaneous interactions between you, your partner, and your guests.

Rather than spending time orchestrating moments, a documentary photographer will really be focusing on authenticity and showcasing each moment as it really happened. This means more time for you and your guests to immerse themselves in the celebration and less time worrying about when their photo sessions may be coming up.

The result is a collection of photographs that are genuine and full of life, reflecting the true emotional depth of your wedding day without frequent interruption.

If you’re catching on by now… this is really an ideal approach for couples who value being in the moment and want their wedding gallery to be a true reflection of their day!

The photos will have a lot of emotional depth

One of the best benefits of what to expect is that there will be a lot of depth in each photo. This style of photography is amazing at showcasing genuine emotions that may have been overlooked otherwise. 

Documentary style photography really focuses on showcasing the raw and unfiltered emotions, from the nerves before the ceremony to the celebration at the reception. You’ll be able to feel it all as you look back at your photos.

Your photographer will really “blend” into the background!

When getting documentary style photos taken, you can also expect your photographer to blend into the background. Unlike traditional photographers who may direct a bit to capture a specific shot, a documentary photographer adopts an approach where they will probably go a bit unnoticed.

This ability to be a fly on the wall lets them showcase the most authentic and candid moments without guests feeling the camera on them so that everything can act naturally and be present in the celebration.

There may be some black-and-white photos

Black-and-white photos lend themselves well to documentary photography. They are powerful tools that can emphasize emotions and have timeless qualities.

These photos strip away all colors (which can sometimes be distracting), focusing the viewer’s attention on raw emotions, contrasts, and even textures in the scenes. This style can often convey emotional depth better than other photo styles.

You’ll enjoy your day more fully

Because the approach is really unobtrusive with documentary style photography, you and your guests will be able to immerse yourselves into the joy and spontaneity of the wedding day. You won’t be frequently pulled away for staged photos with your photographer!

The result is that everyone will be a lot more relaxed and genuine. By removing the need to curate a few perfect photo opportunities, you’ll have the freedom to live in the moment, celebrate your love, and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience that is your wedding day.

A variety of perspectives will be used

With this style of photography, often, a variety of perspectives will be used. This means different angles will be employed, from wide-angle shots that may showcase the beauty of a venue to intimate close-ups that encapsulate the subtle emotions and interactions between you and your guests.

Your photographer will be constantly on the move, seeking out unique vantage points and using creative compositions to tell your story in the most compelling way. This approach not only adds depth and dimension to your wedding album but also means that no key moment or detail will be overlooked. 

Expect photos you’ll cherish for years to come

Lastly, you can 100% expect photos that you will cherish for years to come! This photography style really makes sure that the laughter, tears, joy, and even the small, usually overlooked moments that make your day uniquely yours are celebrated.

As the years go by, these photos will really serve as visual memories that will take you back to the moments that defined one of the most fun days of your life. Each photo will tell a different part of the story, filled with raw emotions and expressions that other forms of photography might miss. 

Truly, expect to look back on these photos with nostalgia and appreciation!

Final Thoughts: Documentary Style Wedding Photography

Opting for a documentary style wedding photographer offers a unique and deeply personal way to capture the beauty of your wedding day. This approach makes sure that your photos really showcase all the emotion and unscripted moments that made your wedding day unforgettable!

Ultimately, choosing a documentary style wedding photographer means trusting someone to tell your love story in a truthful and beautiful way. If you’re looking for a photographer who photographs in this style, click here to reach out.

These photos were taken while second shooting for Barbara O Photography.

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