Portraits in documentary wedding photography

I’ve not long spoken to Neale, who’s photographing a wedding at The Manor at Weston-on-the-Green today, as he checked in to tell me there was still lots of opportunity to photograph so he’d not be leaving until at least 10pm.

This left me with 3 options. 1. Turn on the TV and be subjected to the latest Nick Knowles ‘why-do-we-actually-need-a-lottery-show-anyway’ Saturday night entertainment, 2. Tackle the pile of ironing that is laughing at me in the spare room or 3. Write a blog. I’m afraid there are no prizes for guessing which one I chose.

I thought I’d therefore touch upon the subject of ‘portraits’ during documentary wedding coverage as the image below, one of my favourites captured during a wedding at Great Fosters, sits firmly in that category, and it’s a question raised by many of Neale’s clients.

True ‘PJs’, or wedding photojournalists, would probably baulk at this image, whilst denouncing Neale’s claim to be a ‘documentary wedding photographer‘ as fraudulent. However, I’d say most of the weddings Neale photographs – probably around 95% – actually include some degree of portraiture, at the request of clients, whether that’s as stylised as the shot below, or perhaps a simple shot of holding hands, talking to each other, enjoying some reflective ‘us’ time in what can often be a whirlwind of a day. In fact the majority of our couples still opt to have a select few group shots taken too. Not all, but again a considerable number which Neale will gladly include on his planner for the day. It’s not for everyone, but for many couples, they enjoy the documentary approach to photographing the events of the day, but would still like some ‘record’ shots, perhaps with a doff of their hats towards tradition.

So does including a few portraits in your imagery mean you’re not a ‘documentary’ or ‘reportage’ wedding photographer, or does it simply mean your clients get the best of both worlds?

If you’re planning a wedding at Great Fosters, or feel that a documentary approach to wedding photography would best suit your celebrations, we’d be delighted to hear from you via the contact form on the main menu. In addition, if you’d like to view more of Neale’s wedding photography, including his wedding Photofilms, please do click through the gallery links above.

Blue skies and fluffy clouds frame a bride and groom on the bridge and Great Fosters

  • Bob Owen said:

    I've always been quite puzzled when someone states that you "can't" do this or that and be considered a documentary wedding photographer.
    If we look at the work of "real" documentary photographers, they'll nearly always include and environmental portrait in a story by way of illustration. Most of the labels we use are just sign posts for our clients, so they see clearly what they're buying into when they look at our images. I'll continue to include portraits, albeit as relaxed and as natural as I can make them because it makes my clients happy, as I suspect, will you Neale. And more power to you, as they are most excellent.

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