When couples get engaged and start planning their weddings, and start researching venues and professional providers, the process can get overwhelming, which is something most of us are sensitive to. I’m a huge advocate for thinking and researching before contacting vendors, rather than contacting a slew of random people for prices, only to have no more substantial knowledge to get started, and a slew of responses / follow-ups to contend with. It’s most productive to start with priority services, and those you won’t waiver on. Then contacting the right people for information, based on them being strong potential candidates for your specific needs and vision. Let’s talk about wedding photographers. We stated here, one can be jarringly different from another. In my case, being a niche style of photojournalist / documentary capture on wedding day, requires a specific couple. Using myself as an example, here are some random facts about hiring a documentary wedding photographer, and hopefully this helps you decide if it’s for you.
In short, documentary wedding photography is a specific approach that revolves around unposed natural storytelling and capturing the natural flow of the day. Human emotion and interaction is the main feature, which requires a lot of observing on the part of the photographer, resulting in a very non-intrusive experience if done correctly. I love to meet new prospective couples and learn about them and their vision for their day. I am also very specific when meeting with couples about my approach. Below are some key points to help you decide if this is right for you.
What types of couples seem to value documentary wedding photography most? –
Most of my couples are late twenties or older, and same-sex couples. Of course there have been younger couples who are slightly more reserved and want less pressure on themselves so they can just enjoy their day. The commonality for all my couples; they want personal memories captured and want to enjoy their day, without having to pose and take direction from a photographer all day. If you like the more genuine feel of unposed photography and natural human emotion more than the contrived feel of posed / orchestrated photos, and a more understated presence from your wedding photographer, this could be perfect for you. It’s up to both of us to make sure it’s a fit, and then it’s beautiful all around. I am very up front about how I work and how this benefits them. If it’s not for them, that’s ok too, I still gave them information to use going forward. That’s one advantage of having a specific style and approach, I’m hired for the right reasons and not by accident.
Are there any posed / group photos?-
Yes. I send out a fillable PDF with 8 combinations to ensure nobody important to them is left out, and this is done in 20 minutes or so. Parents, siblings, wedding party, etc. are typically all my couples want or need. This affords me more time to do what I do best, and free everyone else up to enjoy the festivities. Of course I want to please and serve my couples, though if a couple wants a slew of posed combinations or Pinterest ideas, that defeats the purpose of hiring a documentary wedding photographer. I don’t want the wrong couples any more than they don’t want wedding photographs they don’t like.
What about parents with different ideas if they’re helping pay?-
I’m not photographing their wedding, I’m photographing the couple’s. Conflicts of vision can make the whole experience miserable for everyone, so I sidestep the drama and do what I do best. I make sure everyone is on the same page and make it clear that I am hired because I am a master of storytelling, not a general wedding photographer.
A few final random points-
To best carry out the storytelling approach I’ve mastered, I need a lot of creative freedom. Of course I still photograph the baseline and critical moments, but the most genuine emotion often comes at random times to balance out the story. I have a solid system that works well, and a signature style, which is WHY I should be hired. My system is designed to tell an amazing story whether the event goes swimmingly or things go wrong. Some of my best wedding I’ve shot have had disasters happen and it all came together. Hiring a photographer with a specific style and wanting something different makes no sense, which is why it pays to choose wisely based on your needs and visions, which should match up if it’s the right photographer.