What is documentary photography?

You’ve probably seen the word ‘documentary wedding photography’ while searching for your photographer. But what does that mean and what are they photographing throughout a wedding day?

Here’s a full guide to documentary wedding photography & what I photograph on a wedding day. From the moment I arrive all the way through the ceremony, couple’s session, and the reception.

Documentary wedding photography is taking photographs of what things felt like 

and not just what they looked like.

Documentary photography is defined as the kind of photography that chronicles events that are significant. This term was used in a more ‘significant to history & news’ kinda way. But I like to think it suits describes wedding photography really well.

Because, weddings are definitely significant!

Documentary wedding photography captures things as they happen, without intervention, or posing. There are no studios with lights and no asking you to do things over and over again.

You won’t find loads of assistants running around either. And there’s very little interruption to what is happening to ‘get the shot’. To be honest, it’s really more about telling the story as honestly and authentically as possible.

I feel, a documentary wedding photographer would be someone who intervenes as little as possible throughout the day. Capturing and documenting the day exactly as it happens, with very few staged shots and interruptions.

Do documentary wedding photographers still take group pictures?


Yes! - this is the part that needs a bit of planning

It’s quite difficult for a wedding day to be completely and utterly documentary. There will be moments where you would want some direction.

For example, coordinating large family groups definitely requires some intervention and direction from your photographer, and an appointed friend or family member is a bonus!

When you do your couple’s portraits on the day, it’s very likely that your photographer will give you some cues and direction to help you know what to do.

After all, most of us aren’t used to being in wedding photos or being photographed for multiple hours a day.

Documenting your day


If I’m there early enough, I’ll start telling your wedding story from set up and capture the decor you’ve chosen and lovingly put together before your guests start fiddling and moving things around.

Whilst one of you are getting ready, I’ll go hang out with whoever wants to get ready first and gently encourage them to get ready & keep to time while giggling at whatever shenanigans they’re up to!

You might be sitting in a chair somewhere finishing last minute bits of planning while people buzz around you getting you ready.

Onubtrusive ceremony moments


I’ll get there before you do and figure out where I’m going to stand so that I can be in two places at once when you walk toward your human.

Then I become invisible. Ok, not really, but I pretend I am as I tiptoe around you making sure I’m getting a full visual of your ceremony. Your face, their face, your guest’s faces, all the reactions, and all the emotions.

And then, so quickly it’s suddenly all over!

Yay! You just got married! 

Queue confetti, music & cheering! Have you ever been hugged by 40 people in less than 10 minutes? (Get ready, 'cause that’s what happens…)

I’ll get the shots that no one realizes I’m getting. For example, little kids running around while your uncle is trying to get a photograph for the family WhatsApp group. It’s all part of your day. 

Will there be any posing during the couple's session?


After your ceremony, I’ll grab and wrangle everyone you’ve requested photos with,

You’ll probably grab a nibble & some Prosecco (plan to have at least 30min to mingle with guests) and then we’ll spend 30 minutes to an hour together. 

This is the first time you guys really get to hang out on your own and take in the fact that you’re finally married!

So I like to let you revel in it, directing you as much or as little as you need to make sure you’re comfortable and enjoying your time together while I’m snapping photographs of your love – just as it is.

The more time we have, the more locations we can try, and the more shots we can get.

There’s never any awkward posing – rather some gentle direction making sure that you feel comfortable.


Reporting photography at the wedding ceremony


Now, you get to walk into a room full of your favourite people!

We’ll typically go straight into speeches, toasts, and reactions – I’ll covertly ninja around the room and capture as many moments as possible, whether it faces beaming with joy, wiping away a tear or bursting into laughter.

I’m also basically your shadow for the night, I’ve always got you in my line of sight and ready to swoop in at a moment’s notice to capture you hugging & laughing with your friendly neighbourhood oompie.



Whatever you’ve got planned – I’m prepared.

Praseccco fountain with auNt jackie taking a luxury bath or steam-train dances to classic 80's rock. I've got your back!

And when the dance floor starts pumping, I’m all up in it – moving and shaking while taking pics of random dance moves and fabulous people.



And that’s a pretty good idea of what I might get up to in a full day of documentary wedding photography.

You can see why I love doing what I do and why I wear comfy shoes to every single wedding.

Are you ready to talk about photographing your celebration or documenting time spent with family?

Contact me below and I will get back to you with packages and availability or just chat if you are nervous and don't know what to expect.