6 Reasons to Hire a Documentary Wedding Photographer

reasons to hire a documentary wedding photographer

Sunday, February 7th, 2021



Are you looking into style of photography for your wedding, and stumbled upon photojournalism? Welcome to the world of intimate, meaningful, candid images of your event. Documentary wedding photography is all about being unobtrusive and honest with your approach. We’re talking no posing, no interrupting, no altering the wedding of the couple you’re photographing. Just real images of the way things happening. Read on to hear the 6 reasons to hire a documentary wedding photographer.

6 Reasons to Hire a Documentary Wedding Photographer

1. You want to preserve the humanity of not only you, but your guests.

Wedding photojournalists often hold themselves to the same standard of ethics as news photojournalists. The goal is to create images that tell the story of the event, but without playing a hand in altering it.

Photographs are inherently biased. They are not a true form of media that can be a perfect representation of a scenario. But they can easily have truth and honesty woven into them if the photographer has the integrity to do so. Documentary wedding photographers often do as much as they can to not intervene on a wedding day, and they often look at the big picture of an event. This means more images of you and your favorites just doing what you do best – laughing, crying, and being honest with each other. Loving each other. The big picture comes into play in a real and tangible way.

2. You want to be fully present on your wedding day, with as few distractions by vendors as possible.

There aren’t many vendors that are physically present on your wedding day for extended periods of time. The most common vendor faces you would see at your wedding would be the planner, photographer, and videographer – and usually only one of those three are a guaranteed find at a wedding.

There are a lot of different styles of photography out there, but most of them require a certain level of interaction. You may find your photographer telling you to move into better light, to unbutton and re-button a jacket a few times to get different angles, to stop you in the middle of a moment to adjust the angle or light. And while every couple wants something different in their photographer, the key thing is this: how often do you want to be interrupted? How often do you want to be pulled out of whatever moment you’re having in the name of better photographs?

While photographs are one of the few things you walk away from your wedding with, they aren’t the sole purpose of your event. You are there to get married, see your people, celebrate this moment in your life. The photographs come far after that.

Hiring a documentary photographer helps ensure that you won’t be pulled out of these moments, because their goal is to photograph them without interference.

Your mother won’t be stopped as she’s about to say something to you because the timeline is late and you need to go to the first look. You won’t have to do things over again because different photographs are needed. You won’t be pulled from your cocktail hour or dinner because you have to do 30 minutes of sunset photos. By working with a wedding photojournalist, you’ll find there’s so many more things you’ll get to be present for. And the photographs will be just as incredible without their interference.

3. You want to be photographed as everything you are – and not what you aren’t.

The day you get married is an incredible day. But the touch of a photographer who isn’t completely candid or documentary because far more obvious over time. From constant direction for posing to strange requests that are designed to coerce you to laugh or smile, there’s a lot of things that come with the territory of modern photographers that you may not be prepared for.

A documentary photographer is going to just let you be yourselves. However you naturally stand together, embrace each other, whether you visit people on different sides of the room or hold hands all day, whatever story you tell on your wedding day is going to be preserved as such.

A truly candid photographer is going to catch you so in your element that it’s uncanny. You’ll be seen for exactly who you and your guests are, without embellishments, without their desire to make you seem like “more” or “better”. You’re already good enough.

4. Your real story will be told, not a gallery of composed images.

The feeling of looking back on an event in images will forever be the way you remember it. Imagine if years down the road a friend reminds you of something that happened at your event that you loved. But then you discover it wasn’t photographed.

Reportage photographers have the goal of preserving all of the small things. Little kisses, touches, jokes between people, all of the moments that are stitched together to create this story of yours. While hiring a photographer that excels at the gorgeous and the contrived may be an incredible decision at first, over time, you may find that your gallery is missing images that you wished you had.

5. You’ll rarely know you’re being photographed.

As a documentary photographer, my biggest talent is being in the middle of the action, but going unnoticed. The images that result are incredible personal, meaningful, intimate – but not at all influenced by me. By having a reportage style photographer, you’re assuring that you won’t have a large camera in your face all day, but rather a discreet, unobtrusive, unbiased photographer that focuses on allowing you to be in your element. Even in moments where it may be obvious you’re being photographed (like during the getting ready process) the hands-off approach makes it oh-so-easy to be photographed. And the results are astounding.

6. Your images are yours and yours alone.

With a wedding photojournalist, there’s no posing, no prompting, no “whisper something in her ear” or “okay, now dance around, pull each other in and out!” – there’s no influence on the images. Many photographers will use the same directions on different couples. This creates the feeling that the images aren’t really unique to them.

Working with a wedding photojournalist means your images will be yours and yours alone. They’ll show up, and only photograph what’s unfolding in front of them, in a way that shows who you and your guests truly are. There’s no influencing or directing. There’s no superimposing directions onto you that they used last week. They simply show up, and tell the truth of your event.

Are you considering the reasons to hire a documentary wedding photographer?

Let’s answer all your questions. Reach out with everything on your mind. Together, we’ll figure out if this style of photography is the best fit for you.


Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN. 

I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.

This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.

Grab your favorite beverage, pull up a chair, and let's get to know each other.


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