Documentary Love Stories: How I Approach The Wedding Day

When looking at photographers, the first thing you should consider is style. We all capture the day a little differently to each other, and it's important to find an approach and photographic style that connects with you...

Wedding Photography Style

Documentary, reportage, fine art, contemporary – unless you went to art school you’re probably a little baffled when it comes to wedding photography styles.

Whenever I talk to couples at a wedding fayre, I often see a look of confusion when it comes to talking about style, due primarily to two things: there is so much choice available, and you’ve often never booked a wedding photographer before!

From looking at different wedding photographers, you will see a real spread of approach and style to photographing the wedding. We are all creatives after all, and bring our spin on the narrative we capture.

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

My base in photography started back in the mid-90s when everything was very different to how it is now!

From traditional colour photographs with a few stylised Black & White portraits, the photographs were primarily staged. 
It was as we added in candid photographs during elements of the day, the story began to emerge. 

In 2005 I started capturing the wedding day in a more documentary style. While still capturing the traditional moments but spending more time looking for and capturing moments. 

My passion for story and moments shone through in my work, leading me to capture the day in the style that has now evolved.

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

Documentary Wedding Photography Style

When I look back upon the photographs I now capture from the wedding day; I get to reconnect with the story that unfolded. 
When couples sit down and browse through our albums, and start to connect with the story in front of them, I get them to imagine one thing:

Imagine how you will feel when it is your story you’re looking at, and sharing with your friends and family.

The narrative we capture from a wedding day captures on a deeper level. Rather than being a collection of beautiful stylised portraits, the albums are full of moments. Moments that allow you to “relive the day over and over through the album” (Vicki Smith). What Vicki’s words embody for me is what photography is for me. 

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

Understanding Styles of Wedding Photography

There are so many terms banded around the industry, and most of them get applied as a tag or a descriptor. 
Personally, I consider the following to be true:

I capture the story of the wedding day, interspersed with beautiful portraits that give the “wow” to your narrative, along with the historical photographs that are so important.

So my style is not pure photojournalism – I spend 95% of my day capturing the story of the day in a documentary manner, but as I do control elements of the day, I can not say I am a faithful photojournalist. 
I know many great photographers who do fall into this category and admire their work, but I cannot stop myself from wanting to both create stunning portraits and also ensure to capture the essential group photographs during the day.

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

For me capturing the moments, the raw emotion, the characters, and the underlying story of the day is what wedding photography is about. I believe my job is to capture you having the best day with your friends and family, with my photographs capturing your memories.

“You have brought our wedding day back to life through the photos and video.”
Claire + Eddie Saunders

 

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

Photographers who capture the wedding day in a fine art style approach the wedding as an entirely different creative, essentially creating a painting inside of a photograph. Combining soft focus, pastel tones, and a dreamy/airy feel, the images captured look like pieces of art. 

Reportage photographers capture the candid moments of the day but rarely photograph the wider story. Instead, snapshots of the day are interspersed with more traditional/contemporary photography. Essentially this how I photographed before evolving into my style now.

A more traditional approach is still possible to find, and if this connects with you, then this is right!

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

Which style is right for my wedding? 

Answering the question of what is right for you and your day is a question unfortunately only you can answer! However, if the following resonates, there’s a good chance my Documentary Wedding Photography style is right for you:

As a relaxed couple, your wedding is about having a gorgeous day, celebrating with friends and family.

You don’t want to spend your day with endless photographs, but want to look and feel amazing.

Ensuring your day is enjoyable for everyone is vital – it’s a celebration after all.

You’re not overly posey people so feeling comfortable in front of the camera is vital.

You want to make sure all of the family are in your photographs but don’t want it to become a family shoot!

Instead, you want your story to wow everyone, show you, the best possible version of you, having the most significant day of your life.

Your wedding is all about having a great time. You don’t care about the outrageous extravagances or worrying about the little things that don’t matter – you want to eat, drink and be merry with your favourite people. Looking amazing, feeling amazing and having a perfect time.

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

My style of capturing the wedding day

My style and approach are simple – I capture your day as it unfolds. 
I blend into the day and keep everything relaxed. Enjoying it with you, and your friends and family. 
My natural approach allows me to become part of the wedding. I dress as a guest and mould into the day. 
I capture the moments, the little looks, the emotions, the characters, the day as it unfolds. 

Stunning moments, beautifully captured…

I love how I get to capture the story of the wedding, knowing that the narrative I record will live on with that couple for generations. 
Charmaine and Danny captured this entirely when I got to chat with them a few days ago:

“In 30 years time when we’re showing our children, we can say, ‘look that’s the story of our day’,
and that is awesome.
Just thinking about that it’s like yeah, that’s the perfect thing for us. I think it’s phenomenal.”
Charmaine + Danny McGee

What a powerful message to think about…

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

On that I’m going to leave it today, with just one final thought:

When you’re looking for your photographer, choose wisely. The first thing you’ll forget after the day is the price, the thing you’ve got for the rest of time are the photographs themselves. Ensure the style is precisely what you want! 

If you’re looking for your photos to display you as if you’ve been plucked from a feature in a celebrity magazine, you want to be airbrushed to perfection, with controlled, staged images, I am not the photographer for you. If however, you’re looking for a stunning narrative of your day, showing every moment for you to cherish for a lifetime…I’m the man for you!

“All our friends and family comment how beautiful the photos are. They now embody memories that we have a lifetime to cherish and enjoy.”
Sally + Wilfred Denga

Documentary Wedding Photography Style that captures your wedding and your memories beautifully

To talk to us in detail about your day, and to discover whether my style is right for you, please do get in touch!
I’d love to talk to you about your day and start the plans for capturing your documentary love story.

Contact Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James : [email protected]photo.co.uk : 0800 331 7741 : 07834 978905

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Hey there! Just to let you know, we're away from the office over the easter break so it may take me a little longer to get back to you :) Please bear with me! Happy Easter!!