What is ‘documentary wedding photography’? Also known as ‘wedding photojournalism’ - this is a niche within wedding photography that focuses entirely on photos that narrate the wedding day with no posed or staged shots. The photographer tells the story from their perspective, lending their own unique artistic vision.
We spent some time with Geeshan Bandara to answer some questions about this. Geeshan is a pioneer of wedding photojournalism in Sri Lanka, with over 7 years of experience in the industry and many weddings under his belt -
he’s also the recipient of international awards in some of the most competitive organizations, including ones dedicated to only the documentary style of wedding photography.
He was also one of a few hand - picked photographers chosen to shoot the highly prestigious and secretive wedding of the daughter of billionaire Mukesh Ambani in December 2018 - but that’s a story for another time!
“The most surprising thing for me is that most people in Sri Lanka are not aware that documentary wedding photography exists. One of the most common responses I get when people see my work that they wish they knew about me when they had their wedding. They often say that their photos feel artificial and lifeless“ says Geeshan.
The intent behind documentary wedding photography is to transport the viewer to the moment that the picture is taken. Geeshan explains this with much enthusiasm:
“I want you to see the sweat on the brow of the groom waiting for his bride and really feel the heat of the day. I want you to see the tears of joy on the bride's father and be overwhelmed with emotion. I want you to see the best man going crazy on the dance floor and feel the music. I want you to laugh at the kids that are making faces and doing things kids do.”
Geeshan goes on to explain that some South Asians get nervous about taking the documentary wedding photography approach because their parents still usually want some group pictures. He puts their fears aside by showing them that they still get all the beautiful family and candid group shots, but the emphasis remains on an unaltered narrative of the
day while lending his creative flair to it.
Geeshan says that more people than ever before are now keen on having him capture their wedding day in a documentary style.
He concludes by saying: “I am a storyteller. For every photo I show there are a number of decisions that I made internally in the process of shooting it and editing it. I love explaining this to my couples because it shows the importance of documentary wedding photography better than anything else could.