WHAT IS DOCUMENTARY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY?

A Documentary Wedding Photographer will tell the authentic story of your wedding day in un-posed and candid images by:

  • photographing events and moments as they actually happen
  • allowing your wedding day to flow naturally without unnecessary direction and posing
  • recording real emotions, moments and interactions between you, your family and guests.

A Documentary Wedding Photographer will not:

  • ask you to say “cheese” or “smile for the camera”
  • stage and set-up images
  • direct you and your guests
  • take over your day
  • spend ages shooting loads and loads of group shots.

If you’ve been looking around the various websites you will probably have seen the terms “wedding reportage”, “wedding photojournalism” and “documentary wedding photography” used interchangeably. They are all, in my view, different terms for the same style and approach to wedding photography – natural and authentic storytelling.

I’ve been a Documentary Wedding Photographer for over 10 years and for me it’s always been about the creation of the real story of a wedding through a series of pictures that woven together encapsulate the moments, emotions and human interactions of the day.

Each image represents a small part of that story and as a Documentary Wedding Photographer I get a real kick out of capturing these moments that, in all probability, nobody else saw – like these examples:

Documentary wedding photography of wedding choristers at Caius and Gonville College, Cambridge wedding
Wedding choristers at Caius and Gonville College, Cambridge waiting with me for the bride to arrive
Documentary wedding photograph of the groom nervously awaiting the bride at a Cley Windmill wedding.
The groom nervously awaiting the bride at a Cley Windmill wedding.
Documentary wedding photograph of friends waiting to congratulate the bride at a Cambridge wedding
Friends waiting to congratulate the bride at a Cambridge wedding
Documentary wedding photography of two young bridesmaids waiting while bride gets ready at a Suffolk wedding
Young bridesmaids waiting while bride gets ready at a Suffolk wedding
Candid photograph of the bride waiting with her bridesmaid and father to make her entrance to her Ipswich wedding
The bride waiting with her bridesmaid and father to make her entrance to her Ipswich wedding
A documentary wedding photograph of a quiet moment together for the bride and groom before being presented at the wedding breakfast at a Kimberley Hall wedding in Norfolk
A quiet moment together for the bride and groom before being presented at the wedding breakfast at a Kimberley Hall wedding in Norfolk
Documentary wedding photography of the bride and her father waiting to make their entrance at a Cambridge College wedding
The bride and her father waiting to make their entrance at a Cambridge College wedding
Documentary wedding photograph of a bridesmaid's nervous glance back to her mum, the bride, while waiting to walk down the aisle
A bridesmaid’s nervous glance back to her mum, the bride, while waiting to walk down the aisle
"Arranging" the bridal gown during preparations for a Norwich Cathedral wedding captured by documentary wedding photographer Nic Skerten
“Arranging” the bridal gown during preparations for a Norwich Cathedral wedding
Bride and groom's first dance at an Asian wedding in Norfolk captured by documentary wedding photographer Nic Skerten
Bride and groom’s first dance at an Asian wedding in Norfolk
Documentary wedding photography of the bride being helped to negotiate the steps in a wedding gown at an Oxnead Hall wedding
The bride being helped to negotiate the steps in a wedding gown at an Oxnead Hall wedding

Each of these images has its own small tale attached that combine with all the other images from the day create a visual story of each wedding.

As a Documentary Wedding Photographer I’m a storyteller in photographs. None of these moments were staged, posed or contrived – all were real, authentic moments captured to be remembered forever.

It is very popular nowadays for some wedding photographers to call themselves “documentary wedding photographers” but when you look at their portfolios they are full of staged and posed images with only the occasional candid, authentic one added to justify their claim.

That’s not to say that I don’t shoot the formal photographs as I appreciate that most couples require some. But I try to keep that to a minimum and highly recommend that couples keep the number of formal group combinations in single figures. With the assistance of an usher or family friend these can be completed in about 15 minutes and ensure that the natural flow of the day is not disrupted. The overall group shot of the entire wedding party takes about 5 minutes and will record everyone.

CLOSE-IN NATURAL LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

When I photograph a wedding I get in close – I don’t stand on the outside shooting with long telephoto lenses. To get real documentary-style images I need to be on the “inside” of things photographing events and moments as they happen around me.

Similarly, I shoot with natural light whenever possible – firing off a flashgun draws attention to me which undermines my candid, unobtrusive approach. The only time I will use artificial lights is for the first dance and subsequent celebrations by which time flash is generally being ignored by guests and on rare occasions for the speeches if the venue lighting is too low.

Getting in close allows me to achieve these sort of images I want to take at all the weddings I cover :

Candid photograph of the bride and groom getting ready for the cake cutting at a Jockey Club wedding
Getting ready for the cake cutting at a Jockey Club wedding
Documentary wedding photograph of the father of the bride with his two daughters at a Hales Barn wedding
Father of the bride with his two daughters at a Hales Barn wedding
Documentary wedding photograph of the bride being congratulated by her grandmother at a Suffolk wedding
Bride being congratulated by her grandmother at a Suffolk wedding
Candid wedding photography of the bride and her friend celebrating at a Suffolk wedding
Bride and her friend celebrate at a Suffolk wedding