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The York Place team are often credited amongst the original creators of Street Wedding Photography,
but what exactly is the style we nickname ‘Docustreet’?

African Wedding Photography - newly married couple greet their guests as they board a boat down the river Thames in London

How do we bring street & wedding photography together?

To go about explaining the title of this article we probably first need to try to answer a few key questions you might have, namely:

Excellent questions, thanks for asking. So let’s begin …


1. What is documentary wedding photography?

You can read about our feelings on what documentary wedding photography is or should be in much more detail here, but in its simplest form…

Documentary wedding photography is the capturing of real moments throughout a wedding day just as they happen without direct interference of any form by the photographer (i.e. without instructing anyone to do anything, moving people into a scene or controlling the environment).

Now that is of course, quite a broad interpretation and pretty much every wedding photographer will spend at least some part of a wedding day capturing documentary style imagery. The ceremony, for example is a time when it’s generally not acceptable for the photographer to shout instructions to the couple and neither should your photographer really be interrupting the speeches to tell you to crack a smile or say that last bit again. But for the true documentary wedding photographer that unposed approach is not limited to the areas where they have no option but to shoot in a candid, unposed style; it is their approach from start to finish.

For us Documentary has always been the style of wedding photography that we were both attracted to and couldn’t help but shoot in. Whilst we are always happy to do one or two portraits or group shots on a wedding day if the couple would like us to (and in many cases we highly recommend it), our personal feeling is that your wedding should never feel in any way like a photo shoot and we want you to stay in the moment at all times, feeling every last second of what is a truly monumental day in your lives and in your relationship. We want to show you your wedding through focussing on the things that happened and the people that attended and try to remind you in our photographs of how it felt to be there and experience the raw emotion and atmosphere of that moment. That’s not to say by any means that a skilled portrait photographer can’t capture a similar essence of your day in their images, it’s just a very different approach and a very different mindset.

Documentary Wedding Portrait Photography
Reportage Wedding Portraits

2. What is street photography?

For those who thought that the definition of documentary wedding photography was perhaps a little loose, welcome to street photography!

Street Photography is the capturing of everyday life in public places in an unposed, non-choreographed style for artistic purposes.

Street photography is what first inspired us to pick up a camera and take more than just a passing snapshot. It’s an art-form made famous by the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Gilden, Alex Webb and Martin Parr to name but a few and has long been our creative hobby alongside our professional wedding photography work. Street Photography is unusual amongst photographic genres in that it’s really very difficult to give much of a guideline as to what it should or should not be – it’s somewhat unique to each individual photographer as to what they envision as the purpose of their work, the elements that should be present in a street photograph, their motivation and mindset and the style in which they capture it. Street photography is simply about going out anywhere in the world and creating and documenting stories from the people, environment and objects you find in front of you without directly interfering in the scene.

To us personally, our street photography is really about the universality of the human condition. We’ve travelled to countries as culturally diverse as Sri Lanka and London, Mexico and Tokyo or Hungary and Cuba, but whilst the underlying beliefs, rules and culture may be very different and the dressing and architecture of the cities might be worlds apart, when you come to observe people on the streets; the relationships between them, the things that really affect them, the ways that they act and react and the basic simplicity of living day to day, these are always themes that we recognise from our own lives and those of every town, village or city that we encounter.

So in a nutshell street photography for us is, on some level at least, about photographing people just being people, whereas in our minds documentary wedding photography is really in a sense more about… well, it’s about capturing people just being people…

3. Aside from one taking place at a wedding and the other on the street, what's the difference between street and documentary wedding photography?

And that, dear reader, is the question that at some point or other we realised was also the answer …

For a long time we saw street and weddings as two entirely separate entities. Yes they were both about unposed moments but a wedding had a clear story to capture whilst street photography had none. Weddings could be planned whereas on the street we had no idea what we would find. Weddings took place in beautiful surroundings with everyone dressed up and lots of pretty decoration to capture whereas on the street it was just ordinary life with ordinary decoration. On the street, where people just went about their lives, there seemed so many peculiarities, so many odd things happening whereas at a wedding everyone was just chatting away and being on their best behaviour.

Only the more we photographed weddings and the more we photographed street scenes we realised that the true beating heart of both are simply the people in front of us.

People don’t stop being people when you put them in a smart suit. The peculiarities of everyday life don’t stop at the church door and the relationships between friends and strangers alike is universal wherever you are. A wedding is a microcosm of society: a place where formality and relaxation come together in some sort of perfect balance, a friendly place where strangers and best friends stand side by side and where, the second you start looking for them, stories erupt at every corner.

A wedding might be planned for years and years but not every second is structured and even where a structured activity does exist you can’t predict exactly how people are going to react to it. What happens when you step outside the door from the ceremony? Does everyone really know the rules of croquet? How on earth did that zebra face-mask find its way out of the photo-booth? Everything about your wedding is an important memory, but it’s not the dress that gave you the best day of your lives, it’s probably not the place-setting that everyone will remember and still talk about in your old age, it’s you as a couple and the people around you that make a wedding the best day of your lives.


Now a wedding is of course the bride and groom’s story first and foremost but the people who come to your wedding are all the people you know and love – the people you care about, the people whose lives have in some way become entwined with your own, and if on the street we could photograph strangers in such a way as to intrigue and excite you then imagine how exciting that same kind of imagery but featuring the people closest to you in all the world could be!

Keeping that focus on photographing people being themselves we’ve found ourselves approaching street photography and wedding photography in exactly the same way. Whilst a wedding has a central storyline that we will of course photograph every last second of we try to remain open at all times to the subplots, supporting characters and peculiarities that discretely present themselves to us throughout the day. 

Using the compositional skills we forged on the streets we often put disparate elements together in a single frame to create a more interesting, dynamic image rather than just focus on a single story at a time. We seek out oddities in reality, we spot symmetry in everyday life and find humour in the scenes around us. Not only did street photography become an enormous influence on our wedding work but our wedding work started to have a huge influence on our street photography. That pure focus on relationships, the methods of portraying humour, the simple need to capture not just one great image per day but 1000 great images. 

Weddings are our true passion and the thing we love to photograph more than anything else in the world, but we never set out to try and be great wedding photographers, we set out to try and be great photographers.

So what’s the difference between street and wedding photography? – To us there isn’t one.

If you're getting married and connected with our street-wedding photography approach we'd love to connect and see if we could be the right fit to capture your celebrations

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