I have been using the word “documentary” to describe my style as photographer for years now, but I can admit the term sounds a little vague; so let’s break down what it means to me to be a documentary wedding and elopement photographer.
We are paying close attention. Even when you’re so wrapped up in the moment that you forget we’re there, we’re analyzing. We look for ways to capture the essence of your whole day; from your favorite donuts and champagne on the table next to you while you’re getting ready, to your nieces and nephews playing on the lawn, your grandmother kissing your cheek as soon as she sees you after the ceremony, a hand on a back, a tear during vows, a belly laugh… it’s how we remind you exactly how it felt to experience it all.
Of course, we will work with you to create a timeline so the day can flow smoothly, we will call names as we go through family photos, and we’ll pose you here and there when it’s time for your portraits, but we want your gallery to feel like you. When we do pose or give prompts, we keep your personalities at the center and never ask you to do anything we think you may not be comfortable with.
We don’t see your day as a project for our portfolio, rather an opportunity for us to illustrate your story. You and your partner (and your guests, should you choose to have any) write each chapter naturally as the day progresses, and we preserve the visual.
It’s not about us. Photographers don’t need to be the center of attention. We do our best to be everywhere at once, making our way back and forth between you and your guests, hoping we can hang back far enough that your mom doesn’t notice us and get shy before we can photograph her tears as you share a dance together.
You don’t need to be “on” constantly. If you’re having a moment with a loved one and spot our cameras out of the corner of your eye, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to pose. I often find myself telling my couples to pretend the camera isn’t even there most of the time!
We may not shoot constantly, and it’s not out of laziness. If we’ve lowered our camera, don’t sweat it. We pause to recalibrate, to adjust settings so we can make sure the next image is properly exposed, to scan the room, to rest our brain for a moment/reinvigorate creativity, and we pause to chat with your guests so they feel more comfortable allowing us to photograph them.
We don’t shoot just to shoot; we are still tuned in, just waiting for the right moment.