What is Documentary Style Wedding Photography? 

June 14, 2024

Documentary style wedding photography showing a couple holding hands and walking in a field.

When it comes to your wedding photography, one of the big choices you will have to make is what style of photography do you want? Do you want something more posed and editorial or something a bit more relaxed and candid? 

As a wedding photographer myself, I can tell you that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this. However, you do want to make sure that the photographer you choose matches the style that you are looking for. 

One style that is becoming more and more popular is documentary style wedding photography. I love capturing weddings like this and the results always feel like you are flipping through the whole story of your day. 

So, if you are still looking for the perfect style for you and your partner, take a look at everything you need to know about documentary style wedding photography and how to ensure you get the best photos possible!  

What is Documentary Style Wedding Photography? 

First things first, let’s talk about what documentary style photography actually is. This style, also sometimes known as photojournalism, is basically capturing your wedding day as it naturally unfolds. 

Your photographer almost blends in with the background and isn’t constantly stopping you, resettings scenes, or trying to get you to pose perfectly. Instead, they are focused on catching those genuine moments, the smiles, the laughs, the tears, for you to remember forever. 

There are a few reasons why people love this style, but for most people it is a more natural way for them to have their wedding photos taken. Especially if this is one of the first times you are getting professionally photographed, having your photos all be completely posed may feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable to you. 

With documentary style wedding photography, you’re not focusing on posing or “getting your good side.” Your wedding day basically becomes like your favorite documentary series. Your photographer will be with you throughout the entire day capturing all of the moments and letting you and your partner take the lead. 

It is also a great style to choose if you are looking for really authentic and genuine photos for your wedding. Instead of feeling like you have to look all serious or tilt your chin in the perfect way, you can just enjoy your day and whatever it brings. 

The result is going to be a gallery filled with photos that make you smile and bring you right back to that day even 20 or 30 years later! 

Tips for Documentary Wedding Photos

Now that you know what documentary style wedding photos are, let’s talk about some tips that will help you capture the perfect photos throughout the day. 

Create a Timeline for Your Wedding

First, you want to make sure that you are creating a timeline for your wedding that has plenty of space. In general, you never want to feel like you are rushed on your wedding day or like you can’t get in the things that you want to do. 

I would highly recommend creating a schedule that you and your partner (and everyone involved in your wedding) can follow throughout the day. And, make sure you add some buffers in there. 

Things are always going to come up and change throughout your wedding day so, you want to make sure you add buffers and breaks into your schedule wherever you can. You’d be surprised what even a 10-15 minute buffer can do when it comes to your wedding. 

Not only will this help everyone be on the same page, but it will also help keep you more relaxed. When it comes to documentary style photos, a major part of it is capturing everything as it happens. 

This means, if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed and constantly behind because you don’t have a plan in place for your wedding day, you may see that come through in the photos. No one wants that to happen so taking a bit of time pre-wedding to come up with a plan can make all the difference. 

It will also allow your photographer to plan out where and when they need to be everywhere. Whether that’s knowing when you are going to start getting ready or just making sure that your timeline matches up with when your coverage starts and ends, keeping everyone in the loop can help make your day go so much smoother! 

Live in the Moment 

You also really want to make sure that you are living in the moment. One of the amazing things about this style is that you get to actually enjoy a lot of your wedding. When it comes to things like posed photography, you often find that you miss out on certain parts of your wedding (like your cocktail hour) to take photos. 

With documentary style, you can really enjoy each part of your wedding so it is important that you take advantage of that and actually soak it in. Go to all of the things that you have planned for your wedding, spend time with your guests, and enjoy your entire night. 

You can also do things like a first look to get some private time with your partner before the ceremony. This will not only give you some amazing photos, but it will also allow you to spend more time with your guests after the ceremony while still feeling like you got to actually see your partner on your wedding day. 

Communicate with Your Photographer 

Finally, you want to make sure that you are communicating with your photographer (and doing so early on in the process). If there are specific things that you absolutely do or do not want when it comes to your wedding photography, don’t be shy about letting them know. 

Maybe you have specific photos that you know you want to get on your wedding day or if there is something special that you are planning. Whatever it is, be sure your photographer is in the loop and has a plan. 

For example, when it comes to documentary style photography, most of the time you won’t find “posed” photos in the gallery. If there are certain posed photos that you would like to get, talk to your photographer and see if they can do that during your wedding. 

The last thing you want is to receive a gallery and not have the photos that you want in there so take some time to communicate with them so you know exactly what you can expect in your gallery and what won’t be in there! 

Final Thoughts on Documentary Style Wedding Photos

Hopefully this helps give you a better understanding of what documentary style wedding photography is. If you are looking for something that feels very natural and gives you a gallery filled with authentic photos, this may be the perfect option for you. 

Plus, you’ll get to really enjoy your wedding day and all of the amazing things that you spent months or even years planning. 9 times out of 10 if you ask people what they wish they would have done on their wedding day, they will say something along the lines of spending more time with the people they loved and actually enjoying the day itself. 

Documentary style photos help you do just that while still getting an amazing gallery filled with beautiful photos that you can cherish forever. 

If this sounds like exactly what you and your partner are looking for when it comes to your wedding photography, I’d love to chat. You can click here to learn more about my wedding photography services or you can head over here to get in touch with me and start planning out your dream wedding!


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