Documentary Wedding Photographer ?Some considerations...
Of course there are so many things to think about when choosing your wedding photographer. Not least of all the style. But the fact that you’re researching it is a great start and I guess the reason you’re here is that you’re considering hiring a documentary wedding photographer (you might call it a reportage wedding photographer, but the 2 terms are interchangeable).
If that’s the case then that’s great news! You know you don’t want to be stood around ‘posing’ for too many photos and you just want to make the most of your day and spend as much time as possible with all your friends and family whilst your wedding photographer captures as much of it as possible.
BUT…when you’re doing your research there’s a few things you can easily get tripped up by. Things that sound good but may not actually end up delivering on your expectations and even exceeding them, which let’s face it, is what all of us hope for.
The FIVE things to look out for when choosing a Documentary Wedding Photographer
‘Unobtrusive’. Absolutely, you want a photographer who isn’t going to get all bossy and draw too much attention to themselves. You want your wedding day to just ‘flow’ and for everyone to have a good time. But to some photographers unobtrusive means literally standing right back and capturing it from afar. But for me in order to capture the best, most compelling documentary wedding photographs with great composition, the ones that truly convey all the feelings and are ‘in the moment’, the photographer MUST get in close and actually be in the moment themselves. That doesn’t mean to say that they should interfere and spoil the moment, absolutely not! The best documentary wedding photographer is one that can rub along along with everyone and blend in like a guest to the extent that people just forget they are there.
‘Formal’ Family and Group Photos. No doubt you’ll come across some documentary photographers who will openly say that they prefer to limit these or to not to do them full stop, preferring to capture your day more naturally and without asking people to ‘pose’ for family photos. To me that’s a real shame. Absolutely, I too hate ‘rigid’ or even ‘Victorian’ looking photos, everyone staring and grimacing at the camera and all that sort of thing. But for me the trick is to make the ‘formal’ look ‘informal’. Therefore I will happily get all the various groups together and arrange them in a cool little formation in a nice setting somewhere. But then, if needed, I’ll inject a little humour and personality to get the best out of everyone – including Aunty Doris who hates the camera. I’ll also keep an eye out for and capture all those ‘in between’ moments because they in themselves can make for some awesome, natural looking documentary photos.
‘Capture all the moments’. Yes, definitely. Documentary wedding photography is all about that. But to truly capture the best moments a photographer needs to observe and anticipate. It’s not necessarily about reacting to a moment and then taking the photo because all too often the best moments are so brief that in a blink of an eye you’ve missed them. It’s about using experience to anticipate and ‘see’ a moment unfolding. Then the trick is to get into the right position, with the right camera settings, and with the right light and composition. Then it’s about patience and give the moment every chance of happening. Finally as everything unfolds the key is to ‘stay in the moment’ as you then click away. In amongst those few frames there’s every chance that you’ll end up with an absolute corker that will bring a smile to your face forever more.
‘Natural light photographer’. Absolutely, I too love to use all the available, natural light as much as possible. Indeed, fiddling with lights can not only spoil a moment but in doing so it can mean you end up missing the moment altogether! Used incorrectly they can also spoil the look of the photo. However, what happens when the available light is just horrible or non-existent? Admittedly using artificial lighting such as flash, LED and video lights can be technically demanding. But if your photographer isn’t limited to just using natural light and can use artificial light well then they will be able to get awesome, well lit photos right through the day and into the evening, whatever the time of year.
‘We’ll make sure you’re not away from your guests for too long’. This obviously refers to when the photographer(s) take you off to get some lovely photos of the 2 of you. As a documentary / reportage wedding photographer I definitely buy into this and recognise that you’ll want to spend as much time as possible with all your guests. Which is fine as it’s during those times that I love to capture so many story-telling moments as you mingle your way around. But I do see ‘couples’ time, when I take the 2 of you off for photos, as being an equally great opportunity for documentary type photos. I encourage my couples to just be themselves and have a lot of fun. So, although I’ll take you round to some lovely spots where the backgrounds are lovely and the light is awesome, we won’t worry too much about posing as such and we’ll concentrate more on just capturing ‘you’, the sense of occasion, the lovely moments and the relationship between you. We can also break this time in to 2 or 3 small chunks through the day to minimise the time you are away.
‘Documentary’ or ‘Reportage’ are much overused terms in the world of wedding photography and they can mean different things to different people. What I’ve outlined above are 5 areas to think about about to ensure you end up getting what you really want in your wedding photographs. I hope that helps!
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