Keeping It Real – Documentary Wedding Photography

I often tell my couples that I don’t like the word “posed.” There’s actually a definition of “pose” that says “to pretend to be something that you are not.” When it comes to photographing a wedding, I want to be there to capture something authentic. Something with true meaning and real emotion. It’s not a photoshoot. It’s your wedding day!

Of course, during a typical wedding day, there will be times when we gather family and friends together for a few group photos. I almost always take some time out with the couple for some portraits, but even then, I’m looking for authentic moments, not prom photos! On a wedding day, brides & grooms often don’t have that much time alone just to breathe and remember why all these people are there in the first place. I love taking photos of couples who enjoy escaping the wedding for a few moments. Not to smile for the photographer, but to spend some time (almost) alone and, as cheesy as it sounds, to look into the eyes of the person you’re planning to journey through life with.

couple on beach in Mexico

I’ve photographed over 500 weddings now and during a typical day, almost nothing is posed. Everything is taken entirely naturally, capturing the day as it happens in as creative a way as possible. My couples trust me to take photos of all the real moments, the wonderful AND the weird ones. I want every bride and groom to simply enjoy their wedding day and, when they see the photographs, to be transported back into that moment and remember not just how everything looked but, more importantly, how they felt in the moment.

wedding ceremony at cafe de l'horlage in Rigaud

When couples contact me about potentially photographing their wedding, SO many of them tell me they’re not comfortable in front of the camera. I absolutely get that. But my approach to capturing a wedding, including the portraits of the bride & groom, hopefully means anyone who feels awkward will soon realize it’s nowhere near as painful as they expected. No weird poses (unless weird poses suit your quirky personality), no cheesy directions from the photographer. Let’s document the authentic you.

80% or more of what I do on a wedding day is called documentary photography. Some call it reportage. Same thing, just one sounds a little more francais. It’s about capturing moments and telling a story in an authentic, natural way. It’s about big beaming smiles, nervous excitement, the occasional tear and all the emotions in between. It’s about people. All your favourite people in one place for one day, celebrating two people who found their perfect partner.

Here’s a tip.

Do all the planning with your photographer before the wedding day, then on the day itself, trust them to do what they do best. I send my wedding clients a detailed questionnaire ahead of the big day with everything I need to know (timings, family members, locations etc) so that when the wedding day comes, I don’t need to bombard you with questions about what’s happening or who needs to be in the family photos. We’re on the same page, and you can focus on having fun, drinking wine and engaging with all the people who came to celebrate with you. If you’re relaxed and in the moment, I guarantee it will result in the best wedding photos.

wedding guests laughing during speeches

Another tip:

You don’t need to perform for the camera. Unless you want to! Just be yourself. Look at the person you just married. Remember how you first met and the moments that led to this day. I never tell anyone to smile for the camera. I capture the genuine smiles that will happen authentically all day long.

And by the way, you look amazing!

You’ve got the perfect dress, the sharpest suit, a beautiful location, hair and makeup are on point. You’ve prepared for this day for months and you are the very best version of yourself. Let’s capture that. The person you’re marrying is the person that loves all the unique, beautiful things about you so much that they want to spend the rest of their life with you. I’m going to photograph the best ever, gloriously happy, beaming, MARRIED version of you.

Weddings where everyone looks bored or like they’re sucking a lemon aren’t really my thing. My couples often tell me they want their wedding to be a big party where everyone has the BEST time. Super-formal weddings don’t excite me anywhere near as much as those where everyone came to party and celebrate with the bride & groom and all their guests. I’m there to capture all those in-between moments as well as the “big” moments. I want to tell the real story of your wedding day, and if one of those unscripted moments ends up in a frame on your wall, I’ll be sure to give myself an inner high-five.

You won’t see many group shots on my website so some people ask if I’m happy to take some family photos or shots with friends. Of course I am. This part is not documentary photography and is different from how I work for most of the day, but I still believe family photos are important, even if they are just for grandma. I have mastered doing these quickly, so it doesn’t eat too much into your time having fun with family and friends. And group shots can still be fun!

I want to photograph weddings in a natural, authentic way and with as much creativity as possible. I’ll never ask you to repeat something. If you’re entirely in the moment and oblivious to your photographer, that’s when the real magic happens. If any of that resonates, then I could be the photographer for you!

I’d love to hear from you.

Bride getting emotional dancing with grandfather
bride and bridesmaids having a champagne toast
ceremony exit attack London wedding
first dance with pretty lighting
bride getting ready reflection
Clapton Country Club wedding

Wow! You made it all the way to the end of the post. Thanks.

Wanna see more of what I do? Here are some recent weddings.

I also have a YouTube channel and photograph bands you may have heard of.

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