Wedding photography is not only one of my favourite genres of photography, but it also encompasses so many different styles. There are different styles of “shooting” and other styles of “editing” or post-processing.
The “labels” should help give you a sense of what some of the different styles are within the wedding photography world. The thing is, though, most great photographers are a little bit of each while leaning heavily into a small few of those styles. The wedding day and couple themselves also inspire the photographer to approach when taking photos.
Just remember that these are just helpful definitions to help you find your wedding photographer and not strict guidelines or anything or that one photographer is ONLY that type.
You’ve chosen your date, booked your venue and started shopping for dresses. Now you’re looking for a wedding photographer. There are many wedding photography styles out there, and while people in the industry might know these styles inside out, they are confusing for couples. Remember that not only are you picking a style of photography, but different types of wedding photography can make other demands on your time on your wedding day.
Wedding PhotographyPicking the style of photography you want at your wedding boils down to three things. What style of images you want, how long you want to spend with a photographer on your wedding day, and most importantly, of all your personality and comfort in front of the camera.
There are plenty of different photography buzzwords out there. Vintage, editorial, artistic or contemporary is just a few. Perhaps more confusingly, they are used by other photographers in different ways. Ultimately it is up to couples to ask plenty of questions and do plenty of research before picking a photographer and to rely on seeing a full set of photos from completed weddings. Do not rely on the best five or six shots from several weddings to make a choice. Looking for a wedding photographer in Melbourne? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of Melbourne wedding photographers to help you choose.
Wedding photography styles are a compromise between producing fantastic work and keeping to a timetable. A photographer might take brilliant photos, but you probably won’t enjoy the experience if he takes too long to produce them.
List of Wedding Styles
Candid Wedding Photography
Some couples are not fans of being posed and might not want anything but authentic, candid moments throughout the day. Candid wedding photographers are capturing life as it happens without setting it up or staging it. They’re there to catch moments that you may not have even noticed happen all without having to have been posed.
Lifestyle Wedding Photography
Lifestyle is photojournalism but with a modern twist. The aim is to be very candid in look and appearance, but you’ll usually have some mild direction to assist with the pose or lighting. Creating real situations but helping craft and refine them a little more.
Traditional Wedding Photography
If you open up most past wedding albums, you’ll see many traditional and timeless images in them. Today it’s more of a modern take on your parent’s wedding album filled with the bridal party lined up for some photos, family formals at the altar, first dance or tossing of the flowers; this would be a more traditional American wedding.
Do you imagine a specific set of shots you want? The bridal party lined up and laughed? Elegant family photos on the altar? Gorgeous wide pictures of you two being married at the Basilica? Then I think you will appreciate having these more traditional images in your album.
Fine Art Wedding Photography
This style of wedding photography draws from creativity within the photographer. Using the skills they’ve learned and the environment around them. They’ll use creative composition, framing, lighting and even Photoshop to create their imagery. It can be moody, artistic, fun, different, etc. It’s defined as fine art when they’ve had a vision or direction of what the image will look like.
A photo in this style typically tends to lean more towards the posed side of things, but you’re able to create fantastic artwork this way. Fine art candids are possible when the photographer plans for the lighting and location but waits for the candid moment to happen.
Natural Wedding Photography – Light & Airy
A Natural Wedding Photographer can also sometimes be called Light & Airy or Boho. This style will almost entirely use just natural or practical lighting. This style of photography has a beautiful and natural feel with usually green and earthy tones.
You will want to make sure with the photographer, though, that they’re able to handle low-light or very dark reception areas. Make sure to check that part of their portfolio.
Dark and Moody
On the opposite end of things, if Light and Airy isn’t your thing, try searching for a dark and moody wedding photographer. These images dramatically contrast light and shadows, giving off a romantic and often cinematic vibe.
Black and White Wedding Photography
B&W photography in the digital age is now on the editing side rather than using actual B&W film, but it’s still a beautiful style. This style is typically used for special moments. It could be candid, fine-art, posed, etc., but black and white wedding photography can give it a timeless and classic feel even in a modern image. B&W images are perfect for special moments where the feeling is more important than anything else. Looking for the best Wedding Photographer in Melbourne? Check out our ultimate list here.
Editorial Wedding Photography
If you want to feel like a model on your wedding day, editorial images are possibly your flavour. These are the images you’d find in the top bridal magazines where everything is polished, posed and lit to perfection. Ensure you account for these shots in your timeline, as they can take more for setting up. If you want to see your wedding in print or posted on influential blogs, this style might be for you.
The fashion editorials of glossy magazines inspire this wedding genre; at its best, it can produce fantastic high-end images. To make this successfully on a wedding day, the photographer needs to be highly organised, and would probably need an assistant to help set up some of the shots in advance, although that would depend on their style. Do your research to ensure that the time requirements for this type of shoot fit in with your plans. If you like this type of photography but don’t want to devote too much time to it on your wedding day, consider booking a separate photo session after the wedding. Often described as trash or cherish the dress shoot, a different photo session might be the best way to get the wedding day you want and the photographs you’ll love without losing a huge chunk of your wedding day. It also means that you and your photographer can pick the ideal time of day for the right light, and you have scope for rescheduling if it’s pouring with rain. In many countries, particularly the US, high-end wedding photography is evolving towards three shoots: the engagement shoot, the wedding day, and an editorial session. I don’t necessarily think that it all has to be done in one day.
Traditional (or Posed) Wedding Photography
Many people think of traditional wedding photography as endless stuffy group photos where everyone looks stiff as aboard. Worse still, the different collections of people seem to go on forever. There is a fashion to be down on traditional wedding photography, but the actual working framework is still the same for most wedding photographers. The photographs may be more stylish, but the day’s experience for the bride and groom is very similar.
There is always a trade-off between the type of work a photographer does and its time to shoot it. More formal posed photographs will take longer to set up and achieve. Any photographer who produces posed artistic work will need a certain amount of time to create his best work. It would be best if you found out how much time he will need and work out how it will fit your day. Some photographers spend a couple of hours on formal shots. Make sure you are happy with giving over that amount of time on your wedding day. If you are not that comfortable in front of the camera, you may find this type of photography more difficult. A good photographer should help you and put you at your ease, but for many individuals, it can still seem a bit daunting.
Vintage Wedding Photography
Vintage wedding photography is a style that has been coming into vogue recently, but in lots of ways, it’s a hard one to quantify. Vintage can mean anything from using old film cameras during weddings to just a different approach to post-production to produce ‘vintage’ looking digital files. There are some great photographers out there but bear in mind that if you are receiving files that are heavily edited in a particular style, you run the risk of your photos looking somewhat dated a few years later. If I were hiring a vintage style photographer, I would want at least some of the wedding shot on film, and I’m not a huge fan of faking things. As always, ask questions, see examples and make an informed decision.
Artistic or Fine Art Wedding Photography
Essentially an evolution of traditional wedding photography, this type of photography offers a contemporary take on the classic set of posed photographs. However, these are both terms that have been somewhat overused by the photographic community, so again, do your research. At its best, this genre can produce moving romantic images, but some photographers can overuse the same poses so that it can feel a bit impersonal. Ask to see lots of shoots, and don’t be afraid to input your ideas at your pre-wedding meeting.
Different styles of wedding photography
Hiring a wedding photographer is a tricky thing. I mean, you’re making a judgment call on who to hire based on someone’s past work, and it’s not something you get to appreciate and enjoy the day of the wedding. You hire this person to have a prominent role at your wedding because apart from your friends and family, the photographer is the person you might interact with the most (unless you have a wedding planner there). And unlike any other vendor that day, the photos are the one and only permanent reminder of that very day. So, it’s crucial. That’s why it’s vital to choose well who you will be working with that day.
Let’s preface this by saying that the terminology is a MESS because there’s no finalised nomenclature for most of these terms. Very often, they have 2 or 3 different names and sometimes even two different styles will have the same name. So, after having done my research, this is my interpretation of these terms. If you must shop around (which you should) before making your decision, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Classic Modern Portraiture
When I mean classic, I mean what is generally being done most often nowadays: a posed session before with the groom’s men, the bride’s maids, the fam, the couple, etc. and then, a more off the cuff coverage of the rest of the wedding. It’s a mix of “Your parents’ wedding” and modern wedding photography. It’s not what I do, but there’s nothing wrong with this approach. Actually, it allows the photographer to try many things and run the gamut of shots, making sure that the client will be happy. Like everything, choose well who you are working with. Very good “classic modern” wedding photographers will find space to be creative with their portraits, etc. The best part of classic modern photography is that you get the classic style of traditional photos (i.e. nothing too out there) without the intrusive posing of old school wedding photography.
These photos are the most likely to look like your parents’ photos, just updated. If you like classic, clean imagery, these photographers are going to be the ones to deliver it to you. Also, if you have spent a lot of effort on the details of your wedding, modern traditional photographers put an emphasis on capturing them and making those details part of your wedding’s visual story. Something else I think is a benefit is that it promises consistency. Consistency is excellent if you are not the adventurous type, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You are going to get very consistently good photos.
But sometimes consistency can mean that your portraits will look very similar to other clients. This can be a big drawback, depending on what you’re looking for in your wedding photography.
This style gives the photographer almost total artistic license to infuse their particular point of view and style into the photos. It specifically aims to capture portrait/people in situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner. These shots are staged. The images can be dramatic, gorgeous, funny, quirky, epic, etc. The primary goal is to tell stories about people’s lives or to inspire them in different times. Because of that, it covers multidisciplinary types of photography together.
Fine art wedding photography is one of those terms that, like photojournalism, gets thrown around a lot in the wedding industry. Much of the time, it’s a way for photographers to tell you that they want to take photos that push the boundaries. But be careful; fine art wedding photography can sometimes be more about the photographer than about the photograph itself. Just be mindful when you talk to them. A lot of us have huge egos.
Fine art wedding photography can be BEAUTIFUL. They can be a whole lot of fun, hip and cool if done well. And chances are, if you choose a fine art wedding photographer, your photos will not look like anyone else’s.
BUT, it can be both a crapshoot AND a crapshoot… get it? Since you are leaving the photographer with a complete artistic license of what to do, you might be disappointed with the results. That’s true for everything, but I think it’s never as evident when with Fine Art Photography. Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.
There are a lot of styles of photographer out there, but the main thing is to look beyond the catchy buzzwords and look long and hard at portfolios. Ultimately it is the competence of the photographer you are hiring that really matters. Experience, personal service and professionalism are what ensure a consistent standard of photography from wedding to wedding and the consistency and ability to deal with the different shooting conditions that present themselves throughout a wedding day. Their portfolio should show a good balance of shots from bridal preparations to the first dance. Ask questions about how much time they will need to complete those all important formal and couples shots, and work out how much time you are happy to give. Even with more observational styles, planning and communication before the wedding are vital to get the best results and to get them efficiently. Keep to the guidelines, and you are sure to have a memorable wedding day with photos to match.