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Your Comprehensive Guide To Documentary Style Wedding Photography

Kim Argosino
Kim Argosino
Couple photo through documentary style wedding


Wondering what a documentary style wedding photography is?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this blog, we’ll walk you through this wedding photography approach, how to choose documentary wedding photographer, and tips to achieve documentary style photos for your big day.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What is Documentary Style Wedding Photography?

Couple kissing for their documentary style wedding photography

Documentary wedding photography is the art of capturing unposed moments during a wedding, allowing the events to unfold naturally without prior instruction or intrusion by the photographer.  

This style of photography aims to document emotions of the occasion and avoiding staged shots, elaborate studio setups, and excessive intervention. 

Using this style, there are no repeated instructions or numerous assistants bustling around. The approach is characterized by minimal disruption, allowing the photographer to capture in an authentic manner.

Reasons To Choose A Documentary Style Wedding Photography

Done with your outdoor winter engagement photos and want to go straight into planning your wedding photography?

One of the crucial decisions you’ll make is choosing the style of photography for your special day. If you’re seeking a wedding album filled with genuine emotions and non-traditional charm, documentary style wedding photography might be the perfect fit for you. 

Here are five compelling reasons to opt for a non-traditional wedding photography for your special day.

1. Every is Detail Captured

At the heart of documentary photography lies the commitment to capturing every detail. Compared to the staged approach of traditional shots, this style captures the entirety of the day, ensuring no precious moment goes unnoticed – even minor details like your shoes or wedding cards!

Example: Picture this – a bride, surrounded by her bridesmaids, sharing laughs or gossiping just before the ceremony. This is the kind of moment that you can’t replicate with traditional, scripted photography. The smiles are spontaneous and nothing feels forced because the moment is genuine.

2. Unobtrusive Wedding Photographer

Another great factor of documentary wedding photography is the unobtrusive nature of the photographer. Instead of directing every shot, the documentary photographer becomes a silent observer. With this approach, you and your guests can savor the day without constant interruptions.

Example: Can you imagine how annoying it must be to be interrupted from your emotional father-daughter dance at the reception? A documentary wedding photographer will do this discreetly, you won’t even feel like they’re there!

3. Perfect for the Camera Shy

Documentary photography is an ideal choice for camera-shy couples or those uncomfortable being the center of attention. A skilled professional photographer ensures you feel at ease since there aren’t any forced or awkward posing. You don’t have to constantly tuck your hair behind your ears just because you’re conscious of being photographed at the wrong moment.

Example: Think of wedding photos where you and your partner are having a candid conversation. It may not be a major phase in your wedding timeline, but having that tender shot makes your overall day feel more emotional. It strips away the glamor of the moment and focus on the more personal side of you as a couple. 

4. Discover Unseen Moments

As stealthy storytelling ninjas, documentary photographers are everywhere and anywhere, capturing moments without interrupting the subjects. And once you get your photos, you may even be surprised to see moments that you might have missed or weren’t aware of (like your own glam team dropping their jaws at your final look!).

Example: If you have a relative sharing a heartfelt message, you’ll like be all ears during the entire time. While you’re unaware of it, the documentary wedding photographer is already capturing you reactions: tears streaming down your face or the slight smirk on your lips as you hear a funny joke. It’s simply a beautiful thing to look back to when you want to remember how you felt during those moments. 

How To Choose The Right Documentary Style Photographer

Choosing the right documentary style photographer for your wedding is a crucial decision. We’ll explore critical factors to consider when choosing a documentary wedding photographer, offering valuable tips to ensure you find the ideal match for your vision.

Couple dancing for their documentary style wedding photography

1. Understanding the Style

Start by familiarizing yourself with the documentary wedding photography style. Look for a photographer who excels at telling a story through their images, showcasing the genuine emotions and interactions of the day.

Pro Tip: Request to see full wedding galleries from prospective photographers. This will give you a comprehensive view of their storytelling abilities and consistency in capturing candid moments throughout an entire wedding.

2. Research and Reviews

Conduct thorough research by browsing online portfolios, reading reviews, and seeking recommendations from friends or family. Pay attention to the testimonials of couples who have hired the photographer for a documentary wedding style. Look for positive comments about their ability to capture authentic moments and work unobtrusively.

Pro Tip: Check social media platforms for real-time updates and recent work. Photographers often share highlights from weddings, providing insights into their current style and approach.

3. Candid Wedding Photos Expertise

Ensure that the photographer has a strong portfolio of candid wedding photos. Candid shots are the heart of documentary style, reflecting the raw emotions and spontaneous moments that make each wedding unique. Review their portfolio to assess their proficiency in capturing genuine, unscripted interactions. You may end up giving them a hefty tip for their amazing work!

Pro Tip: During your initial consultation, discuss specific candid moments you hope to capture during your wedding day. A skilled documentary wedding photographer will be receptive to your vision and provide insights into how they can bring it to life.

4. Documentary Wedding Photographer Experience

Experience is a key factor in selecting the right documentary wedding photographer. While talent is essential, seasoned photographers bring a wealth of knowledge, quick decision-making skills, and the ability to adapt to various situations.

Pro Tip: Ask about their experience with weddings similar to yours, especially if you’re planning a destination wedding or have specific cultural elements involved. A photographer with diverse experience will be better equipped to handle unique challenges.

5. Communication and Comfort

Establishing clear communication and feeling comfortable with your photographer is crucial. Schedule a consultation to discuss your expectations, ask questions, and gauge how well you connect. A photographer who understands your vision and communicates effectively will contribute to a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

Pro Tip: Pay attention to how responsive and approachable the photographer is during the consultation phase. Clear communication from the beginning is indicative of a professional who values client relationships.

6. Personalized Packages

Choose a photographer who offers personalized packages tailored to your specific needs. Whether you prefer full-day coverage or only specific segments, a flexible photographer will accommodate your requirements.

Pro Tip: Prioritize photographers who offer engagement sessions as part of their packages. This provides an opportunity to build rapport, get comfortable in front of the camera, and ensures a smoother experience on the wedding day.

Tips To Achieve The Best Documentary Style Wedding Photography

To ensure you achieve the best documentary style wedding photography, here are valuable tips to keep in mind:

Guests dancing for their documentary style wedding photography

1. Choose a Skilled Documentary Wedding Photographer

Selecting a photographer experienced in documentary wedding style is crucial. Look for a professional who has a strong portfolio showcasing their ability to tell a story through their lens. For example, are they familiar with fall photoshoot themes or are they more into gothic ideas?

Schedule an engagement session with your chosen photographer. This provides an opportunity for you to become comfortable in front of the camera and allows the photographer to understand your dynamics as a couple, enhancing their ability to capture authentic moments on the wedding day.

2. Create Moments for Candid Wedding Photography

While candid moments can happen organically, creating opportunities for these shots can enhance your documentary wedding album. Plan moments where you and your guests can be yourselves, fostering an environment where natural interactions can be captured.

Incorporate a “first look” session into your schedule. This private moment before the ceremony allows the couple to express genuine emotions, and the photographer can capture the unfiltered reactions, resulting in intimate and candid photographs.

3. Encourage Spontaneous Moments

Encourage spontaneity throughout the day in capturing your creative wedding photos. Allow room for unplanned moments, be it in the form of impromptu speeches, unexpected dances, or candid exchanges between guests.

Share a list of must-capture moments with your photographer but leave space for the unexpected. A skilled documentary wedding photographer will navigate these spontaneous moments with ease, adding an extra layer of authenticity to your wedding story.

4. Emphasize Meaningful Details

Incorporate meaningful details that resonate with your story as a couple. These details, whether in decor, attire, or the ceremony itself, contribute to the authenticity of your wedding photos. Ensure your photographer is in the know to capturing these unique elements that hold sentimental value to you and your partner.

Create a shot list that includes specific details you want to be documented, such as heirlooms, cultural elements, or even your photoshoot outfits. Communicate these details to your photographer in advance to ensure they are highlighted in your wedding album.

5. Opt for Natural Lighting

Maximize the use of natural lighting to enhance the authenticity of your photos. Documentary wedding photography thrives on the play of light and shadow. With proper lighting, you can make sure that you’re captured in your most beautiful light (pun intended!).

Discuss the importance of natural lighting with your photographer. Consider scheduling key events during the golden hour, shortly before sunset, when the soft, warm light can add a magical touch to your wedding photos.

Final Thoughts

Couple kissing for their documentary style wedding photography

Choosing a documentary wedding photographer, at least once, is a financial investment, but it’s also an investment in authenticity.

Speaking of capturing moments, if you’re on the lookout for the epitome of documentary style wedding photography, look no further than Photo Kings. As the top provider of photography services in Canada, Photo Kings boasts a team of the best photographers across Canada.

At Photo Kings, we understand that every moment is a story waiting to be told, and our team is dedicated to telling yours authentically. Our commitment to providing incredible customer experiences, delivering gorgeous photos, and offering affordable rates remains unwavering. 

Ready to turn your moments into timeless memories? Request a quote from our team today!

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