What does “documentary approach” really mean?

As a documentary wedding photographer, my approach is to capture the true essence of the day in a way that tells the story of the couple and their loved ones. I believe that wedding photography should be a reflection of the couple and their personalities, and not just a series of posed shots.

When I first started working in weddings, I spent almost two full years second shooting and assisting local photographers and videographers… I was blown away that in essence, the entire day was an 8 hour photoshoot.

I hated it.

I felt like there must be a better way to do this… I hated the fact that the bride had to pretend to put on her dress for twenty minutes before actually putting on her dress. That now, that memory would be of her awkwardly standing in her spanx, having her mom “pretend” to button up her dress for ten minutes when in reality, it could have been a really sweet moment between them. So much of photography is getting the hell out of the way.

The hill I’m happy to die on is letting people know that there is another way. That allowing things to happen, doesn’t mean you sacrifice beautiful images, in fact just the opposite.

Over the years I’ve learned to combine my love of photojournalistic, artful, photography, and blend it with traditional wedding photography, so now my couples have the space to feel, breath, and most importantly EXPERIENCE their wedding day as it’s really happening.

Of course, this approach requires a trusting relationship between the couple and the photographer. We work together to create a timeline for the day and discuss what moments are important to them. I cram every opportunity for special moments into that timeline that I can. This collaboration is essential to ensuring that the final product truly reflects the couple and their unique story. If you can’t trust that I am getting all of these images, you won’t be able to enjoy the day as you should.

I truly feel that after months of tirelessly planning your wedding, you need to stress about anything. Now’s the time to drink a mimosa, trust your vendors and know that I’m capturing every smile, tear, hug and dance between you and your people…

One of the most rewarding aspects of documentary wedding photography is seeing the emotional response of the couple when they look back on their photos years later. It’s not just about capturing beautiful images, but also about preserving memories that they will cherish for a lifetime. When they look back on these photos in 20 years, they will be transported back to that day and will be able to relive the emotions and joy they felt. It’s impossible to do that if you didn’t actually get to experience that. I refuse to hold your memories hostage for the sake of a photo. Especially when it’s not required to achieve the same beautiful results.

That’s all to say, that of course I’m capturing the big moments like the ceremony and first dance. I am also focused on the small, intimate moments that make each wedding unique. The way the couple looks at each other during the ceremony, the laughter and tears during speeches, and the silly moments on the dance floor are all important parts of the story. If not more… you will never forget your first kiss as a married couple, but you might forget the way the flower girl got down on the dancefloor, or the way your mom squeezed your dad’s hands during the ceremony.

Ultimately, my goal as a documentary wedding photographer is to capture the true essence of the day in a way that tells the story of the couple and their loved ones. Without sacrificing stunning images. By focusing on candid moments and working closely with the couple, I am able to create a final product that truly reflects their personalities and tells the story of the day without compromise.