One of the more difficult decisions to make when planning a wedding is choosing your photographer — not only because there are so many talented artists to choose from, but because each photographer has their own unique style. Do you prefer a more traditional look? Do you want your photos to appear as though they came straight out of Vogue? Somewhere in between? Don’t worry: That’s where we come in. Keep reading to learn all about the most popular wedding photography styles and what sets them apart from the rest.
When it comes to understanding wedding photography styles, there are three main components to keep in mind.
The photographer’s approach. Do they prefer taking artistic photos? Do they like to push boundaries? Is their style more traditional and conservative? This is something you can get a feel for by going through the photographer’s galleries. But don’t just look at the first few photos on their website and think that’s enough; go through an entire gallery of a wedding they photographed so you can truly see their style.
The photographer’s equipment and format. This part is a bit technical, but it does play a factor in photography style. What type of camera do they use? What type of lenses do they have? Do they use digital, film, or both? Keep equipment in mind when you interview potential photographers.
The photographer’s editing and post-processing techniques. With all of the software specifically designed for photography, photos can be edited in a variety of ways. The saturation can be lessened for a moody look. The photographer can add filters for a soft, ethereal look. They can even overlay a design to make your photos a work of art.
Now that you understand a bit about what goes into making a photographer’s style uniquely their own, it’s time for a crash course on some of the most popular wedding photography styles out there. But before getting started, keep in mind that wedding photography styles often overlap, and most photographers are adept in more than one style. So don’t look at this list as the end all be all to your photo style search, but instead, view it as a great starting point — a way to get a better understanding of all the different styles out there so you can narrow down what you truly want on your big day.
Learn all about 11 of the most popular wedding photography styles
When you envision wedding photos, the traditional/classic style is most likely the style you see. These are normally formal, posed photos taken at eye level. Think family and wedding party portraits that you’d put in a photo album. While the term traditional can have a negative connotation, this photo style stands the test of time because of its classic look, and it’s common for at least some of your wedding photos to be shot this way.
Photojournalistic, also referred to as documentary, is one of the most popular wedding photography styles, and with good reason. While the true definition differs from photographer to photographer, these are usually candid photos that make you feel like you’re immersed in the event as it happens in real time. We absolutely love the photojournalistic wedding photography style because it enables you to see the pure authentic emotion on everyone’s faces rather than the forced look that can sometimes happen in posed photos.
“(The photographer is) basically a fly on the wall,” wedding photographer Kera Holzinger said of the photojournalistic style in a YouTube video. “So what this means is that (the photographer is) interacting with the subject from a far and really having no interaction, personally, up close. … You’re able to tell the story without even talking to the subject, without even interfering with the subject, telling them to move in a specific way.”
Think of the editorial photography style as your own magazine photoshoot, like something out of Vanity Fair or Vogue. It’s often confused with the photojournalistic style, but there are some distinct differences. When speaking about the editorial style, Holzinger described it as a style that “allows the photographer to act as the director. This allows me to use props, to get you guys to interact naturally, to allow you to unfold in front of the camera.”
4. Dark and moody
The basis of dark and moody wedding photography is using light to create drama. This light can be natural, like from the sun, or produced with lighting gear being brought in for the big day. The photographer will likely play with stark lines created by shadow and light. It’s a very cinematic style of wedding photography. These photos are also usually enhanced in the editing process to give an even more dramatic feel.
Vintage-style photos can be attained in a few different ways, including the use of a film camera, special filters that attach to a digital camera’s lens, and post-production processes in the edit. When it comes to editing photos to give a vintage feel, your photographer will do things like add a graininess and heighten brown tones with sepia coloring. Since editing is such a large part of vintage wedding photography, make sure your photographer is experienced and comfortable in this genre so that you get the perfect nostalgic-looking photos.
The aerial wedding photography style is just what it sounds like: Photos taken from an elevated point. For this, your photographer will use existing levels at the wedding site, ladders, and even drones to capture your big day from above. If this is something you want, make sure you ask your photographer, because it does involve extra equipment. However, it’s important to note that photographers usually only take a handful of photos in this style, so don’t expect to have your entire wedding gallery shot in the aerial style (unless that’s what you want, of course).
7. Fine art
The fine art wedding photography style is another one that doesn’t really have a true definition. Art, by nature, means something different to everyone, so the same goes for this style. Wedding photographer Dana Cubbage explained it well on her blog.
“Fine art photography is a term that, I think, could be interchanged with editorial wedding photography,” she wrote. “It’s a style of wedding photography where the photographer is crafting a story through their lens with artistic images. Instead of being a fly on the wall, like a true photojournalist, fine art wedding photographers are injecting themselves into the day by carefully choosing locations, lighting, composition, styling, and posing in an effort to create an artistic story of the wedding day.”
8. Black and white
Usually, all photographers will give you some black and white photos for your wedding gallery. Black and white photos can be created with black and white film or your photographer can take the digital color photos they took and convert them into black and white during the editing process. Each option offers different pros and cons, so be sure to chat with your photographer if black and white photos are important to you so they can use the correct gear for your particular style.
Landscape photos are exactly what they sound like: Photos that incorporate a landscape in the background. A wonderful option, especially for nature lovers, this photo style requires a location scout prior to the wedding day (unless your ceremony site is in a scenic location). If your wedding isn’t in a scenic spot, your photographer will find a location close by and usually take you there during cocktail hour to get some shots. If your wedding is located in a particularly beautiful location, then perfect! Why not take advantage?
A warm photography style can be similar to vintage in regards to tones, but not texture. Instead, think of warm as a summer day look with orange and yellow hues to create a cozy and comfortable feel, almost like a perpetual sunset. We think this style looks especially great for outdoor weddings.
The desaturated style is also something that’s usually edited after the wedding. It’s similar in color to the moody style of photography, but not always in regard to the subjects. This means that your photographer won’t pose you in a specific way to achieve moodiness, but will instead alter the saturation of the photos. In post-production, the colors will be desaturated and muted to create a more earthy feel. This is another style of wedding photography that we love to see for outdoor weddings.
Put your knowledge of the most popular wedding photography styles to use!
Now that you know some of the basic wedding photography styles, you can start your journey into researching and interviewing your favorite photographers. Again, make sure you look at the full gallery on the photographer’s website to get a full spectrum of their work rather than just looking at a photo or two on their main page. Remember that there isn’t a wrong choice, so try not to stress. No matter what style of photography you land on and who you choose to capture your wedding day, we know it will be beautiful.
Up next, check out 10 wedding photo pose ideas for every type of couple and learn how long it typically takes to get wedding photos back.
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