In the world of wedding photography, there are different approaches that photographers take to go about capturing the day in images. Most of the photographers I know tend to like a mixture of these fundamental styles, with an emphasis on one or two specific approaches. I think it’s super important to find a photographer whose style and approach to their work meshes with your style! If you aren’t a photographer, you may not be familiar with these terms, or maybe you only have a vague idea of what they mean, so grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and enjoy!
Wedding photographers who take a traditional approach to capturing weddings typically prefer to have a lot of control over what happens on the wedding day. They take great care to make sure lighting is correct, and pose people in “the correct way” to create beautiful and timeless images. Traditional wedding photographer put an emphasis on portraits. Many traditional wedding photographers work off a shot list, where they are careful to take the same shots at every wedding, ensuring nothing is missed.
Pros: If you like classic, clean wedding photos without surprises, a photographer who shoots in a more traditional style will probably suit you the most.
Cons: Traditional wedding photographers focus less on moments, emotions, and candid type photos, and focus more on posed portraits, details, and standard compositions. If you are drawn to artistic/unique images, then this probably isn’t the style for you.
Also described as: Classic, Modern.
Editorial photographers will mainly focus on details (like flowers and décor) and stylized, posed portraits. This style is about creating a beautiful refection of the day, rather than storytelling. The photographer will look for great backgrounds and will direct the couple in order to achieve images resembling editorial fashion photography (like you see in a magazine). Your images will be visually attractive, but might require a bit of posing and styling, with clear directions from the photographer’s side regarding your posture and actions. You’ll see dramatic and improbable lighting with creative angles to generate visual interest, with an emphasis on details and dramatically posed portraits.
Jasmine Star is an example of an Editorial Wedding Photographer.
Pros: If you’ve put a lot of thought into your wedding details and décor, and value having beautiful images of those things, editorial wedding photography might be a good fit!
Cons: While the photographer is busy getting beautiful images of your details, they don’t place as much importance on the moments and emotions of the day. They also tend to be more intrusive, posing people and objects, and setting up shots with lighting.
Also described as: Fashion, Magazine.
Fine art wedding photographers usually have a background in art and/or design. They love to use unique angles, creative compositions, unusual points of view, and advanced editing techniques to create images that are strong and artistic. Fine art wedding photography can be both a wedding photo and a standalone piece of art (the kind that you’d want to hang in a gallery or on the wall in your home). Chances are, if you choose a fine art wedding photographer, your photos will not look like anyone else’s.
Fine-art wedding photography starts with a documentary style (see below), but adds a unique, creative twist dependent on the skill and artistry of the photographer.
Jacob Loafman is an example of a Fine Art Wedding Photographer.
Pros: Fine art wedding photography is beautiful. It’s unique. It’s, well, ART. Oftentimes fine art photographers shoot with film, use unique cameras, or incorporate things like prisms into their photographs to enhance the artistry.
Cons: With fine art photography, you are trusting the photographer to document the story of your day, while also using their vision to create unique art. As with any style, make sure to thoroughly review the photographer’s portfolio and past work to be sure they are capable of delivering a good balance of images.
Also described as: Artistic, Creative, Medium Format.
Documentary wedding photography evolved as a style when photojournalists (photographers working on assignment for news outlets) weren’t making enough money in the field, or didn’t want to work in the field any longer, and took up wedding photography professionally. Naturally, they were shooting from a completely different perspective than the traditional wedding photographers that preceded them (who focused more on perfectly lit posed portraits) and the result was a kind of wedding coverage that looked like it could have been shot on assignment for Time Magazine.
True documentary photographers uphold the belief that they should not affect the outcome of the events of the day in any way, and capture the day as it naturally unfolds (like a fly on the wall).
Tyler Wirkin is an example of a true Documentary Wedding Photographer.
Pros: A documentary wedding photographer has the ability to capture amazing, authentic moments and memories. Your wedding story will be told naturally, without artificial poses and fake smiles. You won’t have to stand uncomfortably in front of a camera for half the day (nor will your family and guests) and your photographer won’t intrude on the natural flow of the day.
Cons: If you prefer classic, posed photos and static detail shots (your dress on a hanger with shoes arranged beneath, your rings carefully balanced on your bouquet, etc.) then documentary wedding photography probably isn’t your style.
Also described as: Candid, Photojournalistic, Lifestyle, Storytelling.
Besides the technical approach photographers take on your wedding day, there’s also the feeling of the images themselves, created both in-camera and in the editing process. Some photographers love a light, airy, filmy look, while others prefer a darker, intense, moody look (I fall towards that end of the scale). I love to create images that evoke emotion, are full of wonder, and that reflect the way I see the world.
Photographers tend to mix styles to create their own, unique take on wedding photography. For me, I love the unobtrusiveness of documentary photography, coupled with the artistic vision of fine art (I do have a background in art and design!). Most of the time I like to blend in and approach your wedding from the viewpoint of a guest- no artificial lighting (unless absolutely necessary), no crazy angles or forced smiles and poses. I like to be able to capture the moments as they occur naturally, but put my own artistic spin on it. When it comes to couples’ portraits, that’s my favorite part of the day! Without being intrusive or putting you in stiff poses, I love to create gorgeous fine art images that you’ll want to have printed huge and hang in your home! I also think family portraits are important to have (as well as a few of the wedding party), but I don’t take up hours on your wedding day on arranging these. After all, weddings are a celebration, and who wants to celebrate being stuck in front of a camera all day?
For a selection of my latest work that reflects my own, unique style, check out my Instagram!