Planning a Documentary Wedding? How does this work?
“How do you prepare? Should we need to meet before the wedding? Do we need several meetings to discuss our big day? Is there a need to meet to discuss the photographs we want? Shall we meet at the venue for a run through? How did you go about setting up that picture?” Many, Many questions asked, and from experience, by those who have little understanding of what they really want on their wedding day with regards to the Photography.
For some it is the way, perhaps due to what they read in a magazine or on a blog. To me, the ideas and opinions dished out by blogs etc are to a degree very generic and unhelpful, and tend to create a tentative and cautious mood and suggest a very complicated way of working.
Documentary Wedding Photography works on emotion and the dynamic element.
I have always gotten a good feeling from the person on the other end of a phone call or email. Viewing the galleries on my website and then speaking to me directly to get an idea of the potential of what they can get. And after a good discussion they are excited by this potential.
I can’t discuss the exact photographs you want. I don’t work that way. It is more important tol strive to produce something new. And I believe I have been successful in that aspect. At other times the day will unfold in such a unique manner and reacting to that flow. I can give an idea of the mood and the atmosphere and the tone. It is easy then to get a hint of what their wedding photographs may hold from the air of their wedding day. When viewing the pictures taken in my documentary style you will certainly recall the mood of the day.
And it still seems to surprise many that I do not set up any photographs. As if was not obvious enough that I don’t. To the point where they will make a comparison with another photographer. Often one who clearly is not doing what I am doing. Example; I was pointed in the direction of one photographer. Started off OK. the images look a bit forced. Laboured. Certainly nothing to do with what I do. Then there was a couple jumping in front of a Triumph Stag. Must have been about ten, twelve images of this, jumping in the air. Star jumps or something, over and over… now, is that really Documentary? Or is it taking the piss? It is certainly nothing to do with my style of photography.
And how after several meetings did both Photographer & Couple come to the conclusion that this was part of the plan? “Right, now, err… I’ll want you both to jump in the air…on the count of three”. One thing I can be sure of, is that if I asked many of my clients to do this they would give me a funny look. Jumping around like clowns is certainly not part of it. Yet for some strange reason these tropes are still part of the wedding game.
No amount of consultations will ever dictate what I will do on the day. And I cannot definitively say that you will get this image, this image or this image. Why? Because they day is completely fresh and falling right before me. I will record it as I follow it. It is a bespoke way of shooting. Hotels seem to be locked into a certain way of thinking too. I am often receiving a phone call informing me of the “best spots”, suggesting that there only will be a few “best spots”.
So, no. I do not set up Wedding Photographs. I Watch intently. Working intuitively and piece it together as I see fit, which allows me to be consistent. Taking a Photojournalistic approach. Documenting the day. I take each wedding photography shoot as it comes. My clients have complete trust in me to do this. I must be allowed the freedom to photograph in my own style.
As one groom said to me, “Phil, it was great, my brother had to more or less babysit his Photographer and answer to his every whim, you worked like we really wanted…”! Planning a documentary wedding? Let me loose and I can produce the goods and therefore can be creative.