Did you know there are different wedding photography styles? Every bride or groom-to-be knows that choosing a wedding photographer is a huge task. However, many don’t think about the big job of choosing between wedding photography styles. So how do you go about figuring out which style is right for you as a couple? Maybe you aren’t familiar with different styles of wedding photography. Still, you’ve likely already formed some opinions based on what you’ve seen. We’re here to help you identify the main wedding photography styles. We’ll also give you some important things to consider when choosing which one is right for you and your partner.
Four Main Wedding Photography Styles to Know
When you start researching, you may see dozens of adjectives tied to different wedding photography styles. However, there are four main styles to be familiar with. Most wedding photography styles fit into one of these broader categories. Knowing this terminology will help you get the look you want when talking to your wedding photographer!
Classic, Traditional Wedding Photography
This style of wedding photography has withstood the test of time. These are not the trendy, goofy shots you’ve seen on Pinterest. These are the elegant, formal portraits you’ve seen in both your grandparents’ and parents’ wedding albums. The traditional wedding photographer likely already has a shot list and a tried-and-true way of posing their subjects. They know how to capture the timeless beauty of every bride. However, they likely won’t want to veer far from their methods.
Artistic, High-Fashion Wedding Photography
This style emphasizes wedding photography as an art form. The photographer may guide their subjects like a runway photographer guides a model. Or, they may go for more experimental shots and angles. These photos can be highly posed and striking. They might look like they came out of an issue of Vogue. This style of wedding photography is a good choice for couples who want to highlight the gorgeous dresses and dapper suits they’re wearing. Especially couples who don’t mind mugging for the camera. This photography style also works well for “wreck-the-dress” photo sessions.
Ready. Set. Wow!
Creative, Contemporary Wedding Photography
This category can include fun, trendy shots and dramatic, striking portraits. The photographer will guide and pose their subjects to create interesting and unique pictures. They combine contemporary trends with timeless portraiture. A contemporary style wedding photographer will incorporate artistic angles and utilize the setting to create shots ranging from heartfelt to dramatic. Picture giggling bridesmaids showing off the colorful heels and flower girls covering their eyes while the couple kisses. Also picture bride and groom in the middle of a striking landscape or a bridal party staggered in the woods.
bride groom standing in the park and tenderly looking at each otherRussell Heeter Photography
Documentary, Photojournalistic Wedding Photography
This style of wedding photography is becoming more and more popular. The documentary style wedding photographer melts into the background. This helps him capture priceless candids throughout the day. These organic, natural-feeling photos tell the story of your wedding day as it unfolded. They tend to capture the spontaneous, genuine emotions that cannot come from posed situations.
Jessica and Kristopher Chase get married at the Clark Plantation Venue in Newberry, Florida. February 26th, 2020. Photo by David Bowie Photography
Deciding Which Wedding Photography Style Is Right for You
How Trendy or Classic Do You Want to Be?
There’s a big difference between classical portraiture and trendy wedding photos, but there’s also room for balance. When you imagine looking through your wedding album, what sorts of shots do you picture? Do you want more classic and elegant photos, or do you hope to have fun shots of your bridal party in kitschy poses? Do you want to incorporate trendy, unique props, or do you prefer to keep things simple and timeless? The internet makes it easy to brainstorm photo ideas, but not every couple will like the same thing. The same event can be shot in multiple ways, so take some time to talk about how you want your wedding photos to look. This can help guide the next phase of your research.
Consider Your Wedding Theme and Overall Feel
To help you decide which wedding photography style suits you as a couple, consider what you have already decided about your wedding. What theme and overall tone are you trying to achieve? If you’ve already picked out a wedding dress, flowers, and décor, the style of photography should complement this aesthetic.
Are you going for an elegant, traditional wedding? Classical wedding photography might best capture this feel. Or, is your wedding style more free-flowing and bohemian? Then maybe a photojournalistic style will be the best way to document the tone of your big day. Did you meticulously select a vogue wedding gown and accessories? Consider how high-fashion shooting methods might capture this better than candid documentary photos.
Do Your Research
In this case, researching wedding photography styles can mean perusing the internet with a glass of wine! Look through these 26 great shots of brides with their bridesmaids. Which ones stand out to you the most? The fun, artistically posed contemporary shots? The striking traditional portraits? Or the sweet, candid moments between friends? Consider which of these pictures find their way onto your must-have photo list. This will help you know which of these wedding photography styles is right for you!
Researching should also include checking out local wedding photographers. When investigating potential photographers, it’s important to consider their wedding photography style. Many wedding photographers have a personal aesthetic that combines multiple styles. However, once you are familiar with different styles of wedding photography, you will likely notice patterns. If you generally prefer the documentary style photos, maybe steer away from a photographer whose portfolio is mostly classic and/or artistic portraiture.
In addition to looking through wedding photographers’ websites, it’s also important to see examples of real wedding albums. This will give you a better feel for the range of photo styles you might see within an individual album. It will also give you even more ideas for what shots you might like!
Mandy and Tyler Alvers get married at the Sweetwater Branch Inn in Gainesville, Florida. July 19th, 2014. Photo by David Bowie Photography.
Talk to Various Photographers
When you find a few photographers you like and meet with them, be sure to ask the right questions, such as:
- How would you describe your style as a wedding photographer?
- How do you interact with the people you’re photographing?
- Do you have a list of shots, or can we provide one?
- What is your photography background?
- What kind of editing do you do?
- Can I see samples of your work [that aren’t on your site]?
The answers to these questions help you decide if the photographer can capture the kind of photos you want. A photographer who says they like to slip unnoticed through the crowd is likely more comfortable shooting in a documentary style. If they have a shot list they tend to work from, they likely have a more traditional style. A wedding photographer who has a background in fashion photography has the experience needed to capture great artistic portraits. The last question is the most important. Sure, you’ve likely already seen a few samples of the photographer’s work at this point. However, nothing will give you a better feel for the photographer’s style than full albums of their work. You may see samples of their preferred style, or you might notice they can comfortably switch between different wedding photography styles.
Make a Pinterest Board
When researching wedding photography styles, take some time to browse Pinterest. Save all the wedding photos you like to a Pinterest board. Once you have a collection of pictures, look through all of them and ask yourself what they have in common. Are they more traditional? Artistic? Documentary? Whichever style you pinned the most represents your wedding aesthetic. Be sure to look for local wedding photographers who shoot in that style.
Another pro tip: when you meet with a photographer, show them your Pinterest board! Tell them what you like most about the photos you pinned. This will help them understand what wedding photography style you’re looking for. It’s okay if you find you like a blend of several styles, too! Many photographers are versatile. They can combine a mixture of wedding photography styles throughout the day. Maybe you want classic portraiture for the ceremony, documentary style during the reception, and a few artistic portraits somewhere in between. A good photographer can work with you to achieve this vision.
Michele and Anthony Longo are married at the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida. October 12th 2014. Photos by David Bowie Photography.
Wedding Photography Styles in Summary
Wedding photos are a huge part of your big day. After the excitement of the celebration fades, you’re left with three main things: the rings, the relationship, and the photos. This is why it’s important not to skimp on a photographer! Neither should you rush a decision over what of the wedding photography styles you want. Take the time to find someone who is the right fit for you as a couple. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. You will cherish these photos for the rest of your life, so find the style that complements the wedding album of your dreams.
Are you into moody, dramatic photography or are you more of a classic bride? What wedding photography style stands out to you? Leave us a comment!