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Today we are going to explore what style of wedding photography is your style.
Wedding photography styles fall into a few categories. First let’s get familiar with the terms used to describe the different kinds of wedding photography :
- Documentary wedding photography – also known as wedding photojournalism, candid or natural wedding photography.
- Fine art wedding photography – light and airy with pastel colour tones, reminiscent of the days of film photography.
- Lifestyle wedding photography – kind of like a mix between documentary photography and fine art photography. Natural, yet done so with some direction and styling.
- Creative wedding photography – artistic and dynamic photography, often captured using lighting equipment either during the day but can also incorporate night time photography.
- Editorial wedding photography – get ready to play models for your fashion photoshoot – oops wedding.
- Traditional wedding photography – classic portrait based photography.
- Mixed wedding photography – a hybrid of all of the above, the Deb Boots style of wedding photography.
There are significant differences between each and I will explain all the styles of wedding photography in more depth below so keep reading.
One of the questions brides and grooms have to answer before they book their wedding photographer, is which of these wedding photography styles suit them. So go a little forward into the future and think about how do you see your wedding photos?
Let’s begin exploring the various styles of photography to find out what style of bride and groom you are.
Documentary wedding photography
Documentary wedding photography is also often referred to as Wedding Photojournalism. Documentary photography and photojournalism in its truest form is where the photographer is documenting people or an event without any interference to the scene by the photographer. Photojournalism originated from presenting stories in the news through pictures.
This style of photography is not new at all, but it is relatively new to wedding photography. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as couples are wanting more candid, natural photos to capture the real wedding day rather than a staged photoshoot.
The types of photos captured on a wedding day will include spontaneous interactions between people, details as they are, and raw emotions. This style works well for couples and groups that are self-assured, confident, know how to have a good time and even animated or big personalities.
Wedding photojournalism is characterised by a natural approach from the photographer. Most of the time the photographer will essentially be in the background, you may even not be aware of the photographer’s presence. The photographer follows the couple and the guests throughout the day while recording the events of the wedding as they happen in an unobtrusive manner. The main goal is to capture raw and honest emotions rather than setup poses.
This is probably the most-sought after photography style by most couples getting married today. However, in my experience, what couples are wanting isn’t pure documentary wedding photography but they are against the old traditional photography style that their parents had and roughly any wedding photos prior to 2010.
True documentary photography in the wedding world, sometimes calls for the photographer to step in and provide some direction or lighting. While they are adopting the ‘photojournalist’s approach’, due to the nature of a wedding and expectations of the bride and groom for their one special day, capturing perfect moments needs some interaction from the photographer and why it’s earned the name ‘wedding photojournalism’ vs just ‘photojournalism’. However there are some wedding photographers that take on the ‘purist photojournalist’ approach and don’t provide any direction or interaction.
It takes great skill, experience, vision and anticipation to be a true documentary style wedding photographer. This is the difference between ‘candid photography’ and ‘documentary photography’. The ability to capture and tell great stories is not easy and takes experience, and sometimes relies purely on a moment to happen, and sometimes those moments just don’t happen. Some wedding photographers claim to shoot documentary-style because they don’t know how to pose people, but true documentary photography is that ability to tell a great story.
What to expect: a photographer that will blend into the scene. Natural moments you may not have noticed. Because of the nature of documentary photography, inevitably there is no guarantee as to what will be captured as the photographer is simply documenting the people and the day as it unfolds. If you have any issues with features that you want to hide, then this style isn’t for you. You need a photography style where the photographer offers a lot of direction and be prepared to be posed, which can take away from the true nature of a wedding day. You will also want to be sure to discuss with your photographer if they edit their photos and how much editing is performed on the photos as most photographers will only provide basic editing to adjust exposures and colour enhancements to the overall image, with retouching to isolated areas of the photos is an additional cost as the amount of retouching for each wedding can vary greatly. Some photographers like myself include retouching with the purchase of a product, for example wall art or the wedding album. Again if you desire beautifully directed portraits, then this style isn’t for you. You will mostly be more drawn to Fine Art wedding photographer or a mixed style.
Fine art wedding photography
Fine Art wedding photography is created with the photographer’s vision and with the intention to display as pieces of art on the wall.
The general way to determine fine art wedding photography is by its appearance, light and airy with pastel colour tones, reminiscent of the days of film photography. Some photographers choose to shoot using film, while other photographers shoot with digital cameras and use presets to emulate a ‘looks like film’ effect.
Because fine art wedding photography is emulating the look of film, we look to characteristics of film photography. Like depth of field which is determined by the exaggerated use of what is in focus to what is out of focus by using a wide aperture or commonly referred to as shooting wide-open. To using lighting from behind the couple and overexposing the images to create a bright, dreamy effect.
The photographer is in total control of the end result including posing. Fine art wedding photography is known for beautiful romantic images, especially capturing the bride and groom on a day where their emotions are pure love.
What to expect: the photographer will setup and pose all of the photos, creating really pretty detail images, direct the getting ready photos, create artful bridal portraits. Your wedding day will be portrait driven. This style is very specific and is for the bride who likes being directed and that dreamy light and bright look to her wedding photos
Creative wedding photography
Creative wedding photography or artistic wedding photography is about creating high impact visually striking images.
While the images are set up with the photographer’s vision in mind, they are by no means formal. The photographers aim is to find interesting backgrounds, interesting lighting and unusual angles, different compositions, which can make this approach fun and open to creating new ideas for unique and creative wedding photos.
Night time wedding photography also falls into the creative and artistic photography style because its dynamic use of lighting and requires direction to achieve the photographer’s vision.
What to expect: This type of photography can produce dramatic wedding photographs but is slower paced because of the technical elements and often using artificial lighting equipment. If you are up for some fun and like to be involved in creating art as a reminder of your day, then creative and artistic wedding photography might be for you.
Editorial wedding photography
Editorial wedding photography takes its reference from fashion photography. Focused on generating dramatic images with high-end appeal and capturing beauty within the image through structured posing as you would see in a fashion magazine.
While the images are beautiful, the editorial style can be tough to achieve. This style requires elegant venues with luxurious styled interiors to provide the beautiful backdrops. The bride and groom’s wardrobe also needs to have a high-fashion couture style to pull off the editorial style.
Due to the nature of editorial fashion wedding photography, artificially created poses result in images that may not fully represent the originality and uniqueness of the wedding. It is more the photographer’s style that will dominate the wedding album rather than the couple’s personality and the overall atmosphere of the wedding day.
What to expect: Be prepared for a highly stylised photoshoot where you will feel like a model and expected to work-it for the cover of your wedding magazine.
Traditional wedding photography
Traditional wedding photography or classic wedding photography is considered more conventional and a throwback to the days of film. The photographer will typically pose people in a more classic style.
Some might consider traditional wedding photography to take you back to the kinds of wedding photos of your parents or grandparents.
Traditional wedding photography comes from an era preceding digital photography, where photographers still shot film. They were concerned with the costs of film and having it processed at the lab, so every frame taken counted and had to be the perfect capture. In that era, the camera equipment was not as technically advanced as the modern day digital cameras and operated in most part in manual mode, meaning it was a slower method of capturing images. This meant that the bridal party, groups and couples needed to be carefully positioned to hold the pose to enable a focused image.
Traditional wedding photographers rarely capture candid moments, they usually concentrate on the key moments and family portraits, and they shoot a set list of photographs. This style involves a great deal of intervention from the photographer and a significant amount of time spent on the formal setups. The resulting images document the people, but rarely reflect the details and atmosphere of the wedding day.
There was no room for experimenting on the wedding day. The goal was to get the shot right, and follow a formula you know definitely worked for each and every wedding.
In today’s wedding environment, traditional wedding photography still holds the same values of following a tried and tested formula to deliver a consistent result to each and every couple. Largely it has given way to more modern wedding photography styles, although we still see elements of the classic style in some modern weddings as some photographers still offer a timeless classic style.
What to expect: lots of posing, a detailed shot-list, very time-line oriented process. You will get photos that pleases mum and your grandparents. But if you just go with traditional wedding photography, you will miss all the candid magical moments that happen in between the formals.
Mixed Wedding Photography
Photographers like myself, combine styles to provide a variety of coverage and creativity.
Some styles suit different parts of the wedding day over others. For example during the ceremony, because the photographer is capturing the marriage service as it happens naturally, the entire coverage of the ceremony is suited to the documentary style. Whereas the couple’s bridal portraits, will mostly fall under Fine Art wedding photography to capture romantic portraits of the bride and groom, as they are the typical photos hung on the walls of the couple’s home or take pride of place in a wedding album.
I take the best of each wedding photography style and make it my own. My aim is to provide a variety of images to tell the couple’s love story in an authentic way. The images will include timeless moments captured through documentary photography and precious images of the newlyweds in a fine art portraiture approach, as well as some creative images. But I can promise no tacky cheesy photos.
This is generally my approach to achieve how I typically photograph each wedding:
Groom getting ready – the focus is on documenting the groom and his groomsmen getting ready in a candid style along with some casual portraits
Bride getting ready – the focus is on documenting the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready in a candid style along with more stylised fine art portraits to capture her beauty and the pretty details
Ceremony – all documentary to capture the true moments and emotions
Family Portraits – these are captured in a more classic style, but still kept natural and light-hearted. The system Ive developed means these photos are completed efficiently to move through them quickly and return the family to the other wedding guests quickly
Bridal Party Location Shoot – a mixture of all photography styles to provide a variety of wedding day memories
Reception – a return to focusing on documentary to capture the celebrations
What to expect: a little bit of everything to give you the greatest variety of photos and keep everyone happy – the couple will love their trendy creative wedding photography, parents and grandparents will love the safer portraits, and the guests will enjoy all the candid photos drawing on the fun moments. What you get is a huge amount of photos to choose from.
When planning your wedding day choosing the right wedding photographer for you will be one of the most important decisions you will have to make. After all the planning and attention to detail put into making this one day so memorable, you will want to be sure the day is captured in your style.
Also make sure you get along and are comfortable with your photographer. Don’t underestimate the importance of bonding with your photographer. Remember your photographer will be shadowing basically your every move on the day. You also don’t want the photographer to offend or be rude to any guests, so a pleasant personality is equally important. Your photographer needs to be both patient but assertive and able to engage with your guests in a friendly manner. I believe I have all of these traits and the testimonials from past couples are a testament of that.
Great news, there’s a stack more tips from where this article came from!