Documentary-Style Wedding Photography with Blair Gable

With digital photography, a wedding photographer can take 4000 shots at an event. But it is not about the technology of the camera.  It is the artistry and professionalism of the photograph to capture those moments that matter. It is about the person behind the camera’s awareness of their surroundings and catching those moments that matter the most.

Documentary photography usually refers to a form of photography used to chronicle significant and historical events.  The photographer attempts to produce truthful, objective, and usually candid photography of people. It is ideally suited to capturing a wedding.

For documentary photographers, they are telling a story in pictures. Their craft depends on their intuitive sense of what is about to occur and capture the genuine moment as it happens. They are always thinking ahead of what may come and prepare to take the event as it unfolds.

I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside with one of Ottawa’s best documentary and award winning photographers , Blair Gable. I asked him to tell me how he approaches his work.

Firstly for any event, you need to be able to give a context to the story. In the industry, this is called an establishment shot. You see it in any TV episode when they change the location, they shoot the picture of the building they are in. This starts the story. A good documentary photographer knows how to do that.



Once that is done, you can focus in on the story the is developing. In the photo below, the father had been quiet the whole time through – slightly detached. He stepped into frame with a shotgun and looked a Blair for just an instant. Blair captured the moment. The bride and mother did not know this had happened until they received the album.


Other times it is being at the right place at the right time. Being aware of what might happen to capture that special moment. Blair says that weddings are not always about tears but sometime bursts of joy.




It is not always focused on the bride and groom. It is a gathering of close friends and family and it is important to document their reactions too.



And finally a great documentary photographer will be there to take the random spontaneous moments. In this final photo, Blair was taking photos of their rings in another room (see the bride does not have her rings on), when he heard one of those iconic rock songs come on. He rushed out to find the groom playing air guitar with his bride… yes a moment that is priceless.


And that is what a great documentary photographer can do for your wedding memories .


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