By Paul Rogers
Being a documentary wedding photographer is about faithfully recording the wedding day with minimal orchestration. It's about observing, anticipating and being technically able to capture the spirit of the day. And while there are 'purist' documentary photographers who will never arrange a picture, or pose a couple, I believe that a comprehensive album of photographs should draw elements from many styles of photography.
When meeting with potential clients, I find it important for them to understand my style of photography, but also for me to get a good feeling of who and what is important to them on the day. While I do take some group photographs and portraits, I like to limit the amount of time doing this so I can concentrate on the documentary style that drew them to me in the first place. Likewise, I won't spend a lot of time during the day photographing endless details and closeups of inanimate objects. I'd rather a couple have one more picture of their Great Aunt laughing than another picture of the chair covers. But sometimes a clients needs come first, and there is a way of blending the two.
Here's a good example of that from Claire and Alex's country wedding in Yorkshire. During the bridal preparations, Claire asked if I could get a picture of her shoes - she'd waited 30 years to wear a pair of red soled shoes, and these Christian Louboutin shoes were something special. It was important to her, and while I don't normally set any pictures up other than the groups and portraits, these shoes needed arranging to show the soles. So here's a couple of the pictures I shot.
Being a documentary photographer, I set myself the task of improving on these images, in a documentary manner. It's not easy showing the soles of a pair of shoes whilst retaining some element of the surroundings to give the picture some context. Luckily I didn't have to wait too long, as when Claire and her Father entered Denton Hall for the ceremony, they had to climb a few steps. Better still, they were with the bridesmaids. So it was just a case of positioning myself below Claire, and hoping things would come together, Here's the result, a much more pleasing documentary photograph for me.