Documentary-Style Wedding Photography Requires A Lot Of Trust, But The End Result Is So Worth It

Planning a wedding can be stressful. There are facts you can control, like how much to budget to feed your wedding guests and what you can't (like the weather if it's an outdoor wedding). Photography is an important part of the celebration. From daguerreotype on copper plates and traditional pictures that involved posing in studios to the now famous documentary method, wedding photography has come a long way (via iQ Photo). If you're planning a wedding, you have likely researched different photographers and photography styles. The Google search results can feel overwhelming. There could also be recommendations from well-meaning friends and family members directing you toward photographers they hired for their special day. 

A few terms you may have heard about photography styles would be documentary, natural, and reportage. You might be wondering what they all mean. According to wedding photographer Micaela Karina, they all essentially refer to the same thing. For a photographer offering documentary-style wedding photography, the intention is to capture candid and authentic moments without directing the couple or their family and friends. They want to remain as invisible and unobtrusive as possible, ensuring you and your partner have a stress-free special day.

If this is something that sounds appealing to you, you might want to read on. Find out why choosing this style of wedding photography could give you results you can cherish for a lifetime. 

You'll be left with pictures that'll make you laugh and cry at the same time

The entire point of the reportage style is to capture real moments. In an effort to be silent yet keen observers (and documenters) of their subjects, documentary-style wedding photographers are sure to photograph moments that you may have missed yourself on your special day. This could mean candid pictures of your mother wiping away a tear during the ceremony or your flower girls playing a game of "rock, paper, scissors" as they waited patiently for you to greet the guests.

Documentary wedding photographer Scott Carney detailed in a YouTube video why he loves engaging in this style. The lack of forced moments results in truly meaningful pictures. Carney shared that the technique not only captures your true personality and how you would be around your significant other when the cameras are not around, but it also offers the same courtesy to your guests. Is your niece the quiet sort who observes the people around her? Does your brother like to be the life of the party? You'd be assured of your loved ones being documented in their natural elements. "I don't want to force them [your friends and family] into situations or ask them to do things that isn't them," said Carney.   

If you want your story told in a way that's least stressful for you on your special day, you might opt for documentary-style wedding photography.  

Some things to keep in mind when booking a documentary-style wedding photographer

Trust is a big part of the relationship between who you hire to photograph your special day and yourself, and with the natural style of wedding photography, this trust becomes even more important. There will be far fewer orchestrated photos and a lot of letting go on your part to make this style of photography possible. Some photographers who offer this style to their clients, like Kenny Clapp of Clapp Studios, actually build a relationship with their clients quite early on before their special day (via B&H Photo). They learn the couple's unique story, how they met, etc. So if this is something you want, you might want to inquire about it with your documentary-style wedding photographer. 

It is also important to be absolutely sure you understand the concept of candid photography before hiring a photographer specializing in the style. If the photographer doesn't offer portrait shots of you and your partner unless told beforehand, you might miss out. Have a conversation with your reportage-style wedding photographer. Tell them you'd like family photos in addition to the main documentary style, and they're sure to oblige.  

Your photographer might click pictures of things people should and shouldn't be doing at a wedding, so there will be moments that make you laugh, cry, and exclaim in surprise when you flip through the photos long after your big day. What a lovely treat.