An emotional first look at a wedding. The groom wipes a tear away. Documentary wedding photography.
  1. You care deeply what it actually felt like to be at your wedding, and so you want images that convey that feeling. The goal in “documentary wedding photography” is to make images that are full of meaning, that take the story of a wedding day, and squeeze it into a single image.
Boy in suit and suspenders hugging his daddy's leg at a wedding. Documentary Wedding Photography

2. You want to see images of your best friend doing the worm, your mom teasing her sister, your dad hugging you with tears in his eyes, your niece with that look like she’s plotting world takeover. These are the things a documentary wedding photographer focuses on.

A groom held aloft his cousins' shoulders during a baraat. Documentary Wedding Photography Hazel Photo

3. You want a photographer who has a keen eye for the meaningful gestures, expressions, and details that tell the larger story. A documentary wedding photographer spends years honing the ability to see the unexpected, to frame things just right, so the viewer is compelled by the photograph, and understands the scene.

a little girl in a white dress with a white basket and a bright pink troll, sticking her tongue out and observing it all on a wedding day. Documentary wedding photography.

4. You don’t want your photographer to tell you to have a second first look. One is overwhelmingly wonderful and plenty. Also, hold on a sec, how in the world can you have a second first look? This speaks to the authentic manner in which documentary wedding photographers work, some call it “reportage.”

a groom and his father share a hug at the hotel before heading over to the church for the wedding. Documentary wedding photography

5. You want pictures that see, and compliment the principles that guided you when you were planning your wedding. (whether you sat down and wrote out official guidelines with your fiancé, or you just have a general sense of what guided your decision-making.) Unfortunately some wedding photography doesn’t see you for who you are, and ends up being more a photographer’s idea of what a “romantic wedding” should look like.

a Bride reading a letter from her groom before the wedding surrounded by bridesmaids and mom. Documentary wedding photography

6. You don’t want a photography company that takes over with multiple cameras, and blocks your guests’ view, and makes it feel like a photoshoot, not like an authentic event. In “documentary wedding photography” the goal is to let the wedding be what it is, rather than to step in and change it with cameras and lights and bodies and direction.

7. You like the color of your dress and the florals you chose, and you want them to be true to life in the pictures. The style of a documentary wedding photographer can be carried into post-processing, with the goal of reproducing color that is faithful to what the eye saw on the day. Some wedding photography is significantly altered in post-processing, whether that be desaturation or color grading, or excessive retouching.