Documentary wedding photography is the art of telling the entire story of a wedding day without needing to use words - instead using only images, or in this instance, photographs. 'Documentary' wedding photography has come to mean more than just that though, and the way that people photograph weddings has changed too. No longer should you spend hours posing for photos in front of a camera; the more time you spending setting up a scene and posing, the less of the 'real' wedding you'll see in the photos at the end of the day.
For me, the best way to capture the true story of your wedding day is to sit back and let things unfold before me. This is less stressful for the client (as they don't have a bossy photographer telling them what to do all day) and much more enjoyable for the guests, too. Naturally, there are some images that need to be posed - the formal family photos for example, and one or two others such as signing of the register and cutting the cake, but those aside, it's best to let the wedding happen and for me to capture it, from a distance.
Take this image for example - Lisa, arriving at church on her wedding day with a huge smile on her face. The temptation here is for the photographer to lean through the window, and take a photo of the bride, perhaps with her father, looking into the lens and smiling. This always feels forced and the smile is never genuine. Instead I much prefer to wait for the bride to look towards her wedding venue, see the guests waiting inside and the bridesmaids outside, and give a natural smile before I hit the shutter button on the camera.
In this particular photo I got pretty lucky though - the line of reflection that passes diagonally across the window, lighting the bride's eyes perfectly. For all the planning in the world, with how fast things happen on weddings, I couldn't have put this down to more being in the right place at the right time!Keywords: Pure documentary wedding photography (15). 1/1000; f/2.0; ISO 100; 85.0 mm.