What are Documentary and Reportage Photography?

December 14, 2021

Documentary and Reportage and Photojournalism - these are all interchangeable in the world of wedding photography. They're also really overused - so if you have a preference for the reportage / documentary style you're really going to struggle finding one, as any photographer who takes a few candids will be using the term.

So What Are Documentary / Reportage Photography?

Put simply, a documentary / reportage / photojournalist will take a hands off approach to the day. Telling the story through candid, unstaged photographs. This allows for the couple to enjoy the day without worrying about leaving lots of time for staged photos and group shots.

Why All The Different Names?

Maybe because as soon as people cotton on to how brilliant it is, it becomes overused? But also maybe because it comes itself from several different disciplines that have worked their way into wedding photography.

I used to prefer the term documentary- but I'm beginning to like photojournalism more. The emphasis on journalism reminds me I'm supposed to be telling a story. And watching and listening to that story.

How Do You Spot Good Documentary / Reportage Photos?

I think that the priorities for documentary and reportage wedding photographers are different. For us telling the story - capturing moments and giving context (a lot of the time in the same image) are more important than how the image actually looks.

Certainly the first question I always ask is 'how do I tell this story'... and the photos follow from their.

Which doesn't mean we aren't obsessed with georgous light, colour and composition. Just that they aren't the number one priority. (And combining all three lets us express how it felt to be there on the day)

Is It A Popular Style Of Wedding Photography?

Yes and no. People can see it as pretentious and too messy. (My first photographic mentor told me that it just shouldn't be allowed on the wedding day, and that I was to stop the bride as she came down the aisle to get a good shot.)

We certainly abstain from taking control - knowing that we'd get 'perfect' photos if we stopped and staged everything but preferring the rough and real to the fluffy perfect stuff. You won't as see much of it in magazines and blogs because it doesn't suit their style. We have no interest in photographing your day as if it were a product catalog or fashion magazine (google 'editorial wedding photographer' if that's what you're after)

Is Documentary / Reportage Wedding Photography for Me?

The couples I tend to work with are often very relaxed and informal and don't want to take control of every aspect of their day. They often describe it as a 'big party with friends' and want to relax and enjoy their company in the brief time of the day (it really does fly by)

For these people, it's absolutely perfect as it fits around their day and captures the relationships and moments between those family and friends - rather than focusing on the couple all day.

On the other hand, if you like to maintain close control over your day- including what photos are taken and how - this style of photography is very much not for you.

Why Do You Photograph Weddings Like This?

I photograph everything like this. I turn up with a camera and document everything as authentically as possible. Which, to me, means without preconceptions and expectations of what it's meant to look like. It stops me making formulaic cookie cutter wedding photography & leads to wedding photography that's creative, fresh and energetic.

It's also very focused on family and stories and relationships rather than the details and 'things' on the day - which probably hints at where my interests lie and what makes me tick as a person.

This Sounds Awesome - How Do We Book?

If this does sound like the style you want for your day drop me a line and we can talk about your wedding.

(Want a reportage photographer, but think I'm a bit shit.... then head over to This Is Reportage to see a selection of other Reportage Photographers from around the world. )

AS SEEN ON

This Is Reportage Logo

WEDDING STORIES

How it felt to be there on the day

© Simon Dewey Photography

Derbyshire Wedding Photographer
4 Embankment Close, Derby. DE22 4HF
07749 127201

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