Documentary Verses Traditional Photography





One thing I have noticed a lot on wedding photography websites is the term “documentary photographer”. Many photographers claim to exclusively do documentary photography. What exactly is documentary photography? Well, documentary photography is basically candid photography (non-posed). In other words, a documentary photographer does not stage any photos but simply photographs what everyone is doing as it happens. This approach captures lots of fun, laughter, emotions and excitement of the wedding day. There is no doubt that candid photography is something you expect your photographer to capture throughout your wedding.  Here are some great examples of candid photography.

Those images look great right? Well actually they are not technically documentary photos because for a photo to truly be documentary you should only use the available light and all the images above were taken using flash. This is important for you to think about when choosing a photographer because many documentary photographers take this point seriously. They will not use a flash at all. In those circumstances your photos will end up looking much darker, grainy, possibly black and white or even blurry. Documentary photographers also leave unwanted aspects in your images, for example skin blemishes and exit signs. Depending on the overall photo, I use my judgement to remove unnecessary objects and at times, even lightly air brush the skin.




Traditional wedding photography doesn’t neccesarily mean that no cadid shots are taken, it simply means that there is a focus on formal photos as well. Every photographer is going to take candid photos and there is no doubt that you want those special moments captured, because it’s all about photographing the day as a whole. However, candid photos are not the kind of photos you are necessarily going to print, frame or hang on your wall. At the end of the day, you will want the nice couple photos framed and placed around your home. Your parents will also want nice family portraits to put on the shelf for everyone to see. Ultimately you want to have both traditional and documentary wedding photography. You shouldn’t have to decide candid verses traditional photography or photographer. This should be included. Below are some great traditional photography examples.