The Documentary Way of Shooting
I’m often asked what kind of style I shoot and although it would be easy to say “documentary” or “photojournalistic” I think it’s important to define what these two labels might mean.
To me, it’s a way of telling an honest story through photographs. These are usually candid photographs, but to say that those images are a series of snapshots would be to sell them short.
Let’s Get Technical For Just A Moment…
If you break things down, you would discover a great storytelling photograph consists of:
LIGHT + MOMENT + COMPOSITION
Light is not just the quantity of light in the environment, but the direction and quality.
A moment is a moment in time that has some significance to the story, usually with emotion or humour.
Composition is the arrangement of people and items in the landscape or room in a pleasing form and shape.
To get all of these things right requires some photographic skill and to do it consistently is what makes good documentary wedding photography.
Documentary Photography Needs Time
The way to turn a “candid” photo into one that tells a story is by use of “context”. This means using mostly wide-angle lenses to capture reactions from other people and the beauty of the surroundings. I tend to work close-up (and using the smaller Fuji line of cameras definitely helps with that) though I’m often surprised by the feedback from couples and guests about how unintrusive this is.
I also feel strongly that to properly tell the story of a day, a photographer needs time, and keeping any formal “photo-shoots” to a minimum most definitely helps with that. It also frees up my clients and their guests to spend time with each other (which – after all – is what a wedding reception is really all about).