Documentary wedding photography, also known as reportage or candid photography, is a style of photography that captures candid and unposed moments throughout a wedding day. It is a relatively new concept in the world of wedding photography, and it is not always understood by some members of the older generation.


One of the main reasons some of the older generations may not understand the concept of documentary wedding photography is that it is a departure from the traditional, posed style of photography that was the norm for many years. In the past, wedding photography was focused on capturing the formal and posed moments of the day, such as copious amounts of family shots. Documentary photography, on the other hand, captures the candid and unscripted moments that happen throughout the day, such as the bride getting ready or the groom laughing with his groomsmen.


Documentary wedding photography is an approach where the photographer doesn't interfere with what's going on. It's a behind-the-scenes approach, where the photographer captures candid and unposed moments throughout the wedding day. It's not about going around setting up shots or wiping the faces of chocolate-splattered kids before the photos are taken. “ Documentary” It's a buzzword that many photographers use, but it's also the way that I, as a wedding photographer, prefer to work for 95% of the day. The other 5% is ensuring that group shots aren't boring for the wedding guests half to death and you get some killer portraits to look the absolute bomb for the grandchildren in 30 years. 


Another reason some folks may not understand the concept of documentary wedding photography is that it is often seen as less formal and more relaxed. Traditional wedding photography often involves a lot of posing and direction from the photographer, whereas documentary photography is more about capturing natural and unscripted moments. This can be difficult for some older generations to understand to be honest, as they may see it as less professional or less polished approached. Which I’m sure you can agree is never the case.



Additionally, some folks perhaps Grandad or Grandma, the older generations may not understand the concept of documentary wedding photography because it is a relatively new trend. Documentary photography has only become popular in recent years, and it is still not as widely understood or accepted as traditional wedding photography. This lack of familiarity with the style can make it difficult for some of the older generations to understand and appreciate the value of documentary wedding photography - it’s not what they are used too! 


It's worth mentioning that with the advancements in technology, cameras are better equipped to deal with high-paced situations, which allows photographers to capture candid moments with high-quality images. This is a significant advantage compared to traditional photography where capturing candid moments was more challenging. We now have the ability to capture moments so quickly, and most photographers opt to take a fly-on-the-wall approach. Digital technology has revolutionised the wedding industry; no more swapping out film for inside and outside shots, and no more tripods and telling people to stand still.


While the documentary style is not always understood by a lot of the older generation, I find it important to ensure that family shots are included in the wedding photography. Family shots are an essential part of wedding photography as they capture the couple and their loved ones on their special day. However, it's important to strike a balance between capturing candid moments and having the wedding dominated by family shots. It's essential to ensure that the couple is still able to enjoy their day as it happens and that the wedding photography doesn't take away from the experience.


Authentic Family Shots - formal and un-formal.

When it comes to group shots, I'm all for them! But my main focus for the couples who book me is capturing the day as it unfolds. Not putting my couples in a situation where they spend 1-2 hours during the drinks reception having group shots. To be fair, there's nothing easier for me than standing in one spot and pressing a button, but it won't be long until you realise the only images you get at the drinks reception are of Uncle Bob, Sally, and mum all in a line and you maybe asking the question - where are the candid’s! 


Family Group shots, may be great for fireplaces, but it doesn't tell the story of life, the day, and the guests. There's a fine line, in my opinion. It also doesn't have to take up a good portion of the day as long as you have a list and plan. That being said, it's true that some folks just don't get it with some wedding simple just dominated with people asking for posed shots which ca sometimes make it hard for photographer focusing on a documentary approach to really get into the rhythm of capturing the wedding. 


I tend to say to my couples, limit the number of group shots you have to the absolute most important ones you want on the day. So that you don't waste the whole afternoon not being part of your wedding. Normally, it's possible to have a list that's no more than 10 shots, which is perfect for balancing the time on the day, versus making sure you have a picture with your parents and Nan.


It's your wedding, you can have whoever you want in these photos, but it's always good to provide names for people when you submit your formal shot list. "Bride, Groom, and Friends" with names, we can avoid awkward moments where Karen thinks she's in that shot, and then we have to tell her "Sorry Karen, not that much of a friend...soz." It’s a good idea to ensure that you tell the whole of you wedding who will be in family group shots prior to the day. Add it to you planning for the wedding- this way you wont offend any one on the actual day.


Heres one of my blogs on formal family shot expectation at weddings: https://www.stutuckerphotography.com/blog/formal-shot-expectations/



Despite these challenges, documentary wedding photography is becoming increasingly popular among couples of all ages. The beauty of this style of photography is that it captures the true essence of the wedding day in a way that traditional, posed photography cannot. It allows couples to relive the emotions and candid moments of their special day, and it provides a unique and personal perspective on their wedding.


Furthermore, documentary photography is a way to capture memories in a natural, candid and authentic way, it's less about perfection and more about capturing the real emotions, personalities and interactions of the couple and the guests. It is a way to tell the story of the day in a candid and honest way, and it is a valuable addition to any wedding photography collection.


In conclusion, some folks will just not get the concept of documentary wedding photography, but it is an increasingly popular style of photography that captures the candid and unscripted moments of a wedding day. As a wedding photographer, I believe it's important to strike a balance between capturing candid moments and ensuring that family shots are included in the wedding photography, but find it hard sometimes to understand why some couples want to try and recreate images from other peoples weddings.



It's essential to ensure that couples are still able to enjoy their day as it happens and that the wedding photography doesn't take away from the experience.


With the advancements in technology and photographers better equipped to deal with high-paced situations, it's important to keep an open mind and understand the different approaches and styles that exist in the photography industry. Documentary wedding photography provides a unique and personal perspective on the wedding day, and it allows couples to relive the emotions and candid moments of their special day in a unique and personal way.


To sum it up, documentary wedding photography is a valuable addition to any wedding photography collection and it's a style that captures the true essence of the wedding day. It's not always understood by some members of the older generation, but it's important to keep in mind the balance between capturing candid moments and ensuring that family shots are included. With the right approach and understanding, it can be a perfect way to tell the story of the wedding day in a candid and honest way.


For couples wanting a documentary wedding approach, but feel that some family members may struggle with this. Remember, that you can't make everyone happy, and it's not your job either. 


If you think someone is likely to want different photos than you, don't be afraid to tell them that it's your day, not theirs. As a wedding photographer, I strive to strike a balance between capturing candid moments and family shots with out it dominating the my couples days. 


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