Documentary Wedding Photography - Your Questions Answered

Documentary Wedding Photography can be a confusing topic, so here are our answers to a few of the questions our couples most often ask about the style and what it means to be a documentary wedding photographer…



Over the decade or so that we’ve been shooting weddings we’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many lovely couples and their families at our studios to chat about their wedding plans and answer their questions. So we thought it might be helpful to answer in the simplest terms we can a few of the more frequently asked questions to help not only our own couples but hopefully anyone who has questions about documentary wedding photography to understand a little more about the unposed, reportage style of wedding photography and how it works.


1. What is a documentary wedding photographer?

Documentary wedding photography (sometimes referred to as candid or reportage wedding photography) is the taking of unposed, candid imagery without the photographer directing the action.

This may be the simplest definition but there’s of course rather more to it and you can simply click here to find out about our documentary wedding photography approach in much more detail.

2. Does a documentary wedding photographer still do groups and/or portraits?

Traditional wedding portraits and groups are never a documentary wedding photographers primary focus and some documentary photographers will not offer them at all. However most shooting in a documentary style (ourselves included) are still happy to do a limited number of group photographs or portraits at the couples request.

But the more classic wedding posed portraits may not be a reportage style wedding photographer’s focus, portraits are actually something that we look for all the time through every stage of a wedding. Documentary portraits still encapsulate the finest traditions of photographic portraiture but are captured entirely in the moment without any direction or interference from the photographer.

Click here to read about documentary wedding portraits in much more detail!

3. What is Street Wedding Photography?

Whilst street wedding photography may sound as simple as photographing a wedding taking place on a street, photographically speaking it’s a little more complex than that. Street wedding photography is a term used to describe a style of photography that combines elements of documentary wedding photography with elements of street photography.

Whilst classic documentary wedding photography could typically be described as a relatively literal record of what happened on a wedding day, street wedding photography, whilst still completely unposed, introduces further elements of storytelling created from the mind of the photographer through creative composition, observation and communication and is often based around ideas of humour, symmetry, use of light and shadow and multi-layered imagery.

You can read a more in-depth article all about Wedding Street Photography here


4. Do I need two photographers for my wedding?

Whilst many photographers shoot solo, the choice of whether a second photographer is needed generally comes down to either the photographer’s style of shooting or the practical necessity of being in more than one place at a time to capture simultaneous events (or both!).

We personally always prefer to shoot as a duo as this allows us the opportunity to explore the stories of your wedding in more depth, be fearless in our pursuit of original imagery and offer different perspectives of the day whilst still ensuring that the central storyline is always at the forefront of our minds.

5. Will my photographer need to use flash during the wedding ceremony?

Whilst some photographers may find the limited use of flash photography during the ceremony is necessary for their style, most photographers (but especially documentary wedding photographers) choose not to as it can distract from the ceremony itself.

For us, we believe that flash can be distracting and take you out of the moment not only in the ceremony but in any part of the day and choose to never use flash partially for this reason. More important though is our desire to capture the true feel and atmosphere of a wedding, and to us that means embracing the available light just as it is and not altering the memory of a scene with additional lighting.


6. Does my photographer need to visit my venue before the wedding?

Whilst some photographers find commencing a site visit or having worked in a wedding venue previously to be an advantage this is not always the case. Whilst portrait-based photographers may wish to seek potential backdrops to their photographs in advance, ultimately for non flash users it is the available light on the wedding day itself that will likely define the best areas to shoot in.

Whilst there are certainly exceptions to the rule, for most documentary wedding photographers or street wedding photographers there is often little or no advantage to having previously encountered a particular venue as the spontaneous nature of this style of photography and the people based approach means that it is impossible (and often unhelpful) to plan specific shots ahead of time.

7. Do documentary wedding photographers work well with videographers?

Professional wedding photographers and videographers should of course always be doing their utmost to work together throughout a wedding day and mostly do so without any problem. However it’s important to consider the individual styles of your wedding photographer and videographer before putting them together as, whilst in 99% of cases photographers and videographers work together seamlessly, there can occasionally be clashes of style that can inadvertently lead to some difficulties during certain parts of a wedding day. For example if booking a documentary wedding photographer it’s important to understand that to get their best imagery they will largely be working spontaneously from moment to moment, so booking a videographer with a carefully orchestrated, pre-planned structure to their shots may not always be the best fit, and vice-versa.

For our part we love working with videographers and are happy to work with anyone. If you’re looking for a videographer that shares our documentary style though we of course recommend our own York Place Films!

Click here to find out more about the similarities and differences between wedding photography and videography and how we work together as documentary photographers and videographers.

Want to know more?

We hope these quick summaries help you to understand just a little more about the documentary (and street documentary) style of wedding photography but if you’d like to find out more you can check out all of our deep-dive articles below or click the contact button to get in touch and we’ll be happy to chat all about how we personally approach the documentary wedding photography style!

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