How to Take Documentary Style Engagement Photos

World meet Bailey and Liam. The kindest souls, also my current neighbors as they are letting us live in their yard until we set off on our biggest adventure yet, moving out WEST! When planning their engagement session we knew we wanted it to feel fun, not too stuffy, and like THEM. They wanted to see themselves in their photos and to feel comfortable. Taking a documentary approach was the way to go and I am so freaking excited with the photos we got. Below I outline what documentary-style photography is and how to achieve this with your clients.

  1. Understanding Documentary Style Photography: Documentary style photography is all about capturing candid moments and genuine emotions without interference or staging. It's about being a silent observer, allowing the couple to be themselves while you document their interactions naturally. Unlike traditional posed photography, documentary style focuses on storytelling rather than perfection, embracing imperfections and genuine moments.
  2. Building Trust and Connection: One of the key elements of successful documentary-style engagement photos is building trust and connection with the couple. Spend time getting to know them, their love story, and what makes their relationship unique. Building a rapport helps the couple feel comfortable and relaxed around you, allowing for more authentic moments to unfold naturally.
  3. Embrace the Environment: Instead of seeking out perfect locations, embrace the couple's natural surroundings. Whether it's a cozy coffee shop where they had their first date or a scenic hiking trail they love, let the environment become a character in their love story. Capture moments of laughter, quiet reflection, and spontaneous interactions against the backdrop of their favorite places.
  4. Focus on Emotions and Interactions: Documentary-style engagement photos are all about capturing genuine emotions and interactions between the couple. Encourage them to forget about the camera and simply focus on each other. Whether it's stealing glances, sharing inside jokes, or tender moments of affection, these are the moments that truly reflect their love story.
  5. Tell a Story: Every couple has a unique love story waiting to be told through photographs. As you document their engagement session, think about the narrative you want to convey. From the excitement of planning their future together to the quiet moments of intimacy, each photo should contribute to the overall story of their relationship.
  6. Editing with Care: When editing documentary-style engagement photos, aim to enhance the mood and emotions captured in each image while maintaining authenticity. Avoid heavy-handed editing techniques that detract from the genuine moments you've captured. Instead, focus on subtle adjustments that enhance the overall storytelling aspect of the photos.
  7. Share the Journey: Once you've delivered the final photos to the couple, encourage them to share their engagement story with friends and family. Whether it's through a blog post, social media, or a printed photo album, these photos are meant to be shared and cherished for years to come.

Documentary-style engagement photos offer a beautiful and authentic way to capture the love, connection, and personality of a couple. By embracing candid moments, genuine emotions, and the unique aspects of their relationship, you can create a visual narrative that tells the story of their love in a truly unforgettable way. So, grab your camera, connect with your couples, and start capturing love stories that will be cherished for a lifetime.


Marissa Irene