March 22, 2024  •  7min read

Documentary-Style Wedding Photography

Documentary-style wedding photography

You’ve likely heard the term before when looking for your wedding photographer. But what does documentary-style wedding photography actually mean, and what do photographers capture throughout the day?

In this article, we’ll be looking at everything you need to know about this style of photography and what photographers usually capture to fully embrace the documentary wedding style. 

What is a Documentary Wedding Photography?

What is a documentary wedding photography

Documentary wedding photography is all about capturing the real story of your wedding from a guest’s point of view. It tells the story of your day through candid, unposed images and lets you spend all your time with your loved ones without any forced poses and formal group shots.

It’s a wedding photography style that photographs everything that feels like how it should be instead of focusing only on what it should look like. You won’t find any assistants running around in documentary-style wedding photography, and there isn’t much interruption to what’s happening to “get the perfect shot.” It’s more about telling the story as authentically as possible.

Therefore, a documentary photographer is someone who intervenes as little as possible throughout the wedding day. We focus on capturing everything as it happens with very few interruptions and staged shots. 

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Benefits of a Documentary Style Wedding Photography 

One of the benefits of documentary wedding photography is that it lets the couple be in the moment and enjoy every part of their special day instead of being distracted by endless posing. This style of photography allows the couple to relax and be themselves, knowing that their photographer will capture the essence of their wedding day. 

Documentary wedding photographers are skilled at capturing all the special day’s details, including decor, flowers, the rings, and other important moments such as the first kiss, cake cutting, and the first dance. 

This kind of photography is perfect for you who want to relive your wedding day exactly as it happened. The images captured are a timeless representation of the day, capturing every spontaneous moment and emotion you’ll cherish forever. 

Are Documentary-Style the Same as Journalism Wedding Photography? 

Are documentary-style the same as journalism wedding photography

Documentary and journalism or reportage photography are considered to be the same style. You can consider the ‘documentary’ style as the umbrella term for all these photography types. Reportage or journalism wedding photography focuses on the “storytelling” aspect, as it’s the photographer’s job to tell the entire story of the special day. 

For example, during the ceremony, photographers will usually grab a few posed photos of the couple. On the contrary, a documentary wedding photographer will notice a child acting cute or silly in the aisle or the couple’s grandmother or aunty wiping their tears. A good photographer won’t only focus on what everyone’s looking at; they’ll also look beyond everything happening. 

What Will the Photo Results Look Like?

Documentary wedding photographers will help you get plenty of natural and candid moments in the photo results. They should look like a mini-movie with every laugh, tear, and joy captured in the photos. 

Photographers might capture moments that happen in a split second, so you might have a lot of movement in your images. There might also be detailed, close-up images of interesting moments that support the broader picture, such as holding hands or your nephew sleeping under a table. 

Can You Still Get Group Photos in Documentary Wedding Style?

Indeed, it takes a lot of work for a wedding day to be completely documentary. There will be moments where you will need some direction. For example, if you have a large family, some intervention and direction from the photographer will be necessary.

When doing a couple of portraits on the wedding day, it’s likely that the photographer will offer some cues and direction that will help you pull off the correct poses. After all, none of us are used to being in wedding photos or even being photographed for the entire day. 

Wedding Documentary is Great for Storytelling 

If the photographers are there early, they can start capturing your wedding from the setup and the decor you’ve chosen and put them together before the guests start playing around with them and moving them around. 

While you or your partner is getting ready, the photographer can hang out with whoever wants to get ready first and encourage them to get their pictures taken while giggling with whatever nonsense they’re up to!

You might be sitting somewhere finishing your last bit of makeup with your stylist while people buzz around you. The best candid moment is when you get into your outfit surrounded by your family and closest friends. There’s a small moment when the magnitude of the day hits you, which is great for documentary-style photography. 

They are Also Great for Low-Key Wedding Ceremony Photography 

The photographers will arrive before you do and figure out where they’ll stand during the ceremony. They’ll pretend they aren’t even there and tiptoe around you to ensure you’ll get a full visual of your ceremony. What matters to documentary photographers at this point is to capture you and your guests’ faces with all the reactions and emotions. 

The photographers will get the shots without anyone knowing, whether you’ll be getting hugged by 50 people in 10 minutes, your best friend sobbing in tears, or your uncle trying to share the photos with your family’s WhatsApp group! 


To sum it up, documentary wedding photography is a photography style that captures the spontaneous and unscripted moments of a wedding day. It’s a style of photography that’s ideal for couples looking to relive their wedding day exactly as it happened, with photo results that are real and full of emotion. 

Documentary wedding photographers are experts at photographing the big day’s essence and creating a visual story you’ll cherish for generations to come.

Guntur author at Bali Wedding
Guntur has been writing tips and tricks for weddings in Bali since 2020. He has written everything from preparing a pre-wedding in Bali to the best wedding dress and makeup you should choose for a wedding in paradise.

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