I’ve recently been shooting a few pre-wedding portrait sessions. It’s made me think about the contradictions portrait shoots theoretically pose for a documentary wedding photographer like me.
Let me explain: by definition, documentary photography requires a hands-off approach: capturing moments as they naturally happen, looking for and seeing images in real time without controlling or interfering with the subject matter. Whereas portraiture photography generally relies on a much more controlled approach; taking charge of the moment to ‘create’ an image.
I shamelessly promote myself as a documentary wedding photographer because I love shooting documentary photography. However, I also shoot wedding portraits. And therein lies the contradiction.
So how do I, as a passionate documentary photographer, approach a portraiture shoot?
Simple – I shoot it documentary style. Yeah I know; sounds a bit weird but hang in there.
For me, the most important element of my wedding photography is that when you view your wedding images (either for the first time or 15 years from now) you connect with them. You see and relive the moments in which they were shot. Your wedding images then become about you and your wedding. They become personal keepsakes and fresh reminders of your day, how it really was, and not about me the photographer.
For the majority of your wedding day I will do this with a pure documentary approach. Watching, observing and candidly interacting with your wedding, seeing and capturing those fleeting moments as they unfold, telling your wedding story in pictures.
And it’s with this same philosophy I approach your portraiture session.
I won’t ask you to perform like models or make you pull off a series of over used and clichéd wedding poses, that will either make you cringe or will date as time and trends pass. Instead, I’ll simply give you a little directing in terms of where and how to stand, making sure you’re comfortable and relaxed. I’ll then encourage you just to be yourselves, to enjoy the moment and to interact with each other as you naturally would. I’ll then take a step back to give you some space; so you can enjoy your first moments, alone, as a newlywed couple. And within that space and that environment fleeting moments naturally unfold. And I’ll be there to document those moments, creating natural and timeless documentary wedding portraits.