Each and every wedding photographer has their own individual way of capturing a day that makes their work theirs. It can’t really be mimicked, or emulated or copied. The way we each see the world is different. But at the foundation each photographer generally adopts a certain style, or a medley of styles, that influence the way they photograph a wedding.
Understanding which style of photography you’re looking for should even come before you begin looking for photographers. If you’ve begun looking for a photographer, you might even have already noticed you’re drawn to some people’s work more than others and if you look at who you’ve been drawn to already, you’ll probably find they all fall into a similar category.
Here is a little breakdown of the main styles you’re likely to see a mixture of so you can decide what style is right for you.
Traditional style wedding photography probably isn’t considered the most creative; it’s generally what you’ll see from your parents wedding album where there are a lot of eye-level, posed shots. They kind of are what they are – nothing outside the box but just a safe, standard range of photographs of people looking straight at the camera.
This was generally born out of the film-age when photographers had to be sure they were getting something usable. They didn’t have the luxury of viewing the image on the back of the camera as they shot to make sure they had the shots they wanted and so needed to use a more controlled environment.
While now with the digital age, this isn’t so necessary, you’ll still at least some of these traditional photographs in most photographers delivered galleries because when it comes to photographing the family together after the ceremony, it works and it’s functional. Simple and effective. It’s rare to find any photographers shooting an entire day like this but they still exist.
If you’ve started your research into finding a wedding photographer you’ve probably already come across this term or ones like it. Things like ‘photojournalistic’, ‘candid’, ‘fly-on-the-wall’ – all of these relate back to photographing weddings in an unstaged way; letting things unfold naturally and purely documenting everything that happens in order to develop the narrative of the day.
Now in the primarily digital age, we have the luxury of taking a lot more photographs than we need and can be more liberal with the way we shoot and pick the very best outcome. Typically this leads to more natural and genuine expression and emotion and for that reason, this is probably one of the most popular styles of photography for weddings.
Documentary photography also takes inspiration from classic street photography and so photographers have a huge wealth of classic photographers to draw on. My personal approach leans heavily into a documentary style for the most part of the day while including just enough subtle direction and guidance through the couple portrait portion of the day to ensure the couple is comfortable and feeling at ease.
Photographers with a background in fashion and portrait photography tend to adopt elements of an editorial style of photography. These rely more heavily on direction and posing throughout the day rather than natural moments in order to produce something akin to a runway campaign for a fashion label.
This can produce incredibly beautiful results and is an incredibly hard skill to master. It is rarer to find this style in wedding photography and tends to be a specialist area. However some elements of editorial photography find their way into many photographers work; particularly during the portrait shoot and preps photography.
Typically a style based from the film era, it’s very much a quality over quantity genre of wedding photography with a focus on producing single pieces of stunning art. Although born from the film photography genre, it’s common now to find fine art wedding photographers shooting on digital.
Along with every different shooting style are different editing styles that range from dark and moody, to light and airy; or from pushed tones to more natural colours. Dark and moody, believe it or not, features darker and more dramatic tones and tends to be more emotive, while light and airy editing is brighter and more gentle.
When it comes to the colours, some photographers opt for pushing tones to be more ethereal, while some stick to more natural. My personal favorite focuses on natural skin tones, rich blacks, nice whites – my own editing is based upon the look of classic film that was created to make people look their absolute best.