The word documentary means “providing a factual record or report.” And while this definition doesn’t exactly spark excitement, a documentary wedding photographer does just that! They capture your wedding day exactly as it is – all the real smiles, happy tears, bear hugs, and big feelings. Instead of making you “stand over there and smile,” the purpose of documentary wedding photography is to capture you exactly as you are, so that when you look at your photos 10, 20, 50 years from now you see yourself – not a stiffly posed, camera-ready version of you.
Documentary wedding photography captures not just how your day looks, but how it feels. So, why should you hire a photographer who specializes in these kinds of photos?
It’s perfectly normal to be stressed about your wedding photos. Most of us aren’t used to being in front of the camera, and it can be nerve wracking to add that anxiety onto a day where you already have a lot to think about.
But the amazing thing about a documentary wedding photographer is that most of the day, they’ll be a fly on the wall! You’ll forget you’re even being photographed, which allows you to relax and just enjoy the day. When you get your photos back, you’ll see candids of you throughout the day, and all your loved ones just enjoying the moment.
There’s so much that we miss in a day – and especially on a day where you’re buzzing with excitement (and maybe a mimosa or two), it can go by fast! Without photos, you won’t know the way your partner teared up when they were practicing their vows, or you might miss the way your dad looked the first time he saw you all dressed up. Or even that little game of peek-a-boo between the flower girls and groomsmen.
A documentary wedding photographer captures these real moments. They’ll get the big ones too, like walking down the aisle or your first dance, but so much happens in between!
I hear it all the time – “we’re awkward in photos.”
Here’s a secret – how you look in photos depends on your photographer! Because the way you look reflects the way you feel, if you feel awkward and uncomfortable, you’ll probably look a little awkward and uncomfortable. And who doesn’t feel awkward when they’re being told when to smile?
As a documentary wedding photographer, I take a different approach. Sure, there are some times during the wedding day when we do some more formal shots. You’ll have plenty of candids throughout the day, but for family photos, wedding party photos, and a few couples photos, you’ll need a little more guidance. So instead of posing you like a rag doll, I’ll ask questions, give prompts, crack a few dad jokes – so that when you look at each other you’re thinking about the day you met, and when you get your photos back you’ll remember that moment when your new spouse said something that made you burst out laughing. Don’t worry, I’ll help you if you don’t know what to do with your hands, but overall I like to create moments and capture them as they happen!
Imagine your mom is talking to you, telling you how proud she is, but all you can hear is the click of a camera shutter next to your ear. Or you’re saying hello to all your guests, but planning an escape route because you need to go take photos.
A documentary approach to photography allows you to be present with your loved ones, and really enjoy the day. Because your wedding isn’t about photos – it’s about getting married! It’s about committing to the love of your life! And you should get to enjoy the day.
You’ll get those genuine, authentic moments photographed without even realizing, and when you get your photos back you get to relive the entire amazing day.
When you open your wedding album 10 years from now, what do you want to feel?
Do you want to feel the joy and excitement of your wedding day, or do you want to feel discomfort as you remember standing in front of the camera?
A documentary wedding photographer captures the events of your day and tells the story of what happened, but they also capture the feelings and memories that tell the story of how it felt. Your wedding day should be spent having the best day of your life, not posing for photos – and the photos should be something you’ll want to look back on.
I’m passionate about capturing stories truthfully – so if you want to spend your wedding day having fun, being head over heels in love, and enjoying time with the people you love most, contact me! Because isn’t that what your wedding day is all about?
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2023 Caitlyn Cloud
Design by Caitlyn Cloud Designs
Kansas City Wedding Photographer
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I am proud to be an inclusive wedding vendor! I love working with all types of couples in love.
Whatever your gender, sexuality, religion, race, I want to help you celebrate your day!