Documentary Wedding Photography

Documentary Wedding Photography

A South Wales photographer’s documentary approach to photographing weddings


Photographic reportage, photojournalism or documentary wedding photography is simply telling the story of the day using a sequence of emotive pictures. Weddings are beautiful to photograph with so many different emotions but they have to be treated with a delicate touch. After all fleeting moments can not be recreated and you can not print a memory. So an ability to respond quickly and quietly is paramount to provide images that perfectly capture the essence of your wedding day with the integrity it deserves.

As with natural wedding photography there is no standard plan to follow, each wedding is unique but a good documentary wedding photographer will tiptoe through a scene. Avoiding intrusion but constantly looking out for the perfect shot. Many scenes must unfold naturally before a photographer’s eye, but they must also engage both mind and heart to fully utilise their camera’s ability to record the moment and emotion. It can be a simple scene, but small differences such as the angle of view and the direction of light can make drastic changes to the vigour and richness of an image. You can see further examples of my documentary wedding photography in my portfolio and also I am very proud of the feedback I hear from previous couples through these client comments.

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“Sacha was amazing in understanding what we wanted out of our photo’s – we didn’t want staged shots and wanted everyone to feel comfortable and this is exactly what he did! Lots of people commented on the photo’s how they didn’t even know there was a photographer around majority of the time, which for us was exactly what we wanted. His communication before was great and we’re so pleased with the results!”

Fran & Tom

An experienced documentary wedding photographer will be able to capture most of the day using the ambient light. Though this does take some investment in professional cameras together with the highest quality lenses but they will allow most scenes to be captured without the need to impose artificial light. The is nothing like a flash of fabricated illumination to destroy the sanctuary of a moment. Not only does it destroy the delicate atmosphere created by candles or dimmed lighting, but the subject matter and those in the surrounding area become instantly aware of the presence of a photographer. The natural behaviour of people enjoying themselves will change as self consciousness sets in. So a good documentary photographer will possess empathy to communicate the emotion of a scene. They must also have technical ability to have the skill to capture a fleeting moment and lastly they must also have the artistic vision to create an interesting and aesthetically pleasing picture.

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However I also believe in the importance of some formal photography, especially a few group shots of close family and friends. The trick is to get the balance right, so I normally advise five or six sets to avoid this part of the day taking too much time. This will allow you to return to the party and have a drink and chat with your guests, which is after all why you invited them. I have a little saying I often repeat to clients, “The photographs should be about the day and not the day about the photography”. I feel if you keep true to this statement the documentary ethos will withstand the slight detour. At your discretion you can also choose to have a few pictures of just the two of you, this will allow me to select the background and utilise your chosen venue. This normally only takes a few minutes but will provide you with a few nice images to anchor the natural documentary imagery. Documentary wedding photography, when done well, possess an honesty and truth, properties which are often under estimated. It provides images which have the ability to transcend fashion and time. Concentrating on the beauty of human interaction at its most fundamental level, of love and friendship.

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As a documentary wedding photographer, I have no standard plan to follow. I treat each wedding as unique, allowing events to unfold as I discreetly capture the emotions, laughs and moments with my cameras. My advice to anyone getting married, is to relax and enjoy yourself on the day, chat and laugh with friends and family and the photography will take care of itself. If this sounds like it might suit you and you would like to discuss your wedding photography requirements any further, or just wish to check on my availability and fee, then please do contact me.