Styles of Wedding Photography Explained
Updated: Mar 1
If you are looking for a wedding photographer, but you feel overwhelmed with all the choices out there, this is the right article for you.
Photographers let their photos speak for themselves, and people say that a picture is worth of thousand words. It's true, but it may get tricky when searching for your ideal wedding photographer and seeing so many beautiful images.
You've probably heard terms such as lifestyle, photojournalistic and candid photographer. Still, you may not know what's the difference. If you understand these terms, you can search for the keywords accordingly to find your perfect wedding photographer.
Classifying by approach:
1. Traditional wedding photography
These are the wedding photos which your parents most likely will hang on their walls at home. It's when everyone is standing and smiling in the camera. The poses are formal, and the wedding photographer helps with the positioning of everyone in the photo. All these photographs are very standard with classic composition.
2. Candid wedding photography
Candid is what we can see from looking at the photo when people look natural and not posed. There are two approaches: documentary and lifestyle approach.
Documentary (or also called photojournalistic) photography is captured as the event happens. The photographer has no control over the scene and doesn't interrupt the flow.
Lifestyle photographer captures what appears to be natural photos. However, in reality, they are being staged or posed to look that way. The photographer controls the results by directing the couple, and often choosing the location and time of the day.
3. Posed wedding photography
Posed photography is exactly as it sounds. The photographer will give you exact directions for posing to create the creative vision they have in mind.
Classifying by use of light:
1 Natural light wedding photography
Natural light photography is about seeing the beauty of the light around us. It may be limiting as you are dependant on the conditions which you can't change. However, you can have wonderful results when it's done right with the right conditions.
2. Flash wedding photography
Flash photography can give the photographer absolute control over the scene. The main advantage is that the photographer can be as creative as they want when expressing their vision no matter the lighting conditions. The disadvantage is that it may be more time consuming when preparing all lights.
Classifying by overall style:
The overall style of a final wedding gallery is dependant not only on the photographer's style but also on the wedding itself. Your wedding photos will reflect your choices, such as the venue type, the colour scheme and the time of the day your pictures are taken.
1. Light and airy wedding photography
Light and airy photos are typical for its look with a blurred background (usually nature or plain walls of light colour). The colours scheme consists of neutral and pastel colours. The location choice is very important because it's hardly possible to create light and airy photographs at a dark barn venue with wooden walls and dark ceiling.
2. Dark and moody wedding photography
Dark and moody photos are often dim and contrasty. They can also have a painterly look. The best time of the day for dark and moody photography is late evening and dusk. This look is not achieved only by editing but also by the right use of light. It would be nearly impossible to create dark and moody photos at the midday sun.
Fine art wedding photography
Fine art photography is often associated with the light and airy style. However, there is no particular style or approach to fine art photography. Fine art photography is about expressing someone's creative vision and using photography as a medium to communicate this vision. The aim is to express an artist's personal perception or emotion, sometimes beyond realism.
"Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with things you see and everything to do with the way you see them."
(Veronika J. Fine Art Photography)
How is the wedding day impacting the photography style?
Most wedding photographers won't strictly use a single photography approach, and neither I do. It's simply because of the nature of weddings. There are different expectations throughout the day and various limitations of control over the scene. That's why photographers need to adapt to weddings accordingly.
During a wedding ceremony, the photographer may be limited with their movement and use of equipment (flash). Therefore, in such a situation, the photographer will rely on the documentary (photojournalistic) approach using natural light only.
For the group family photographs, it will be most likely traditional photography style when the photographer directs and poses everyone in front of the camera.
Wedding couple portraits
A photographer usually has the most control during the couple portrait session. The photographer can choose the location, pose the couple, and, most importantly, control the lighting to express their unique style.
Examples of different photography styles
Every photographer is different with a unique approach to wedding photography. And most photographers won't follow a particular style because they don't want to feel limited. They want to have freedom in their creative process. See these examples of different photographers for better understanding.
Veronika J. Fine Art Photography
I'm a natural light photographer who creates luminous photos for the elegant & romantic bride. I aim for a candid, natural and dreamy style. I won't try to stage any shots and pose you, but I will slightly direct you instead. When editing, I mostly aim for light and airy images. However, I do some dark and moody photos too, when the conditions are right.
''My creative vision is a constant search for a pure beauty where the most important elements are balance, elegance, romance and feminine touch.''
Learn more at: https://www.veronikaj-photography.co.uk
Gareth Roy Photography
Gareth uses exclusively natural light to create his art with dark and moody vibes. He uses a mix of documentary and posed photography approach.
Besides for weddings Gareth also enjoys landscape photography which translates into his wedding photography in its way. His wedding couples are mostly adventure seekers who don't mind hiking to gorgeous locations to have their portraits taken with stunning backgrounds.
See more of Gareth's work at: https://www.garethroyphotography.com
Phillip Parnell Photography
Phill doesn't limit himself to the natural light only. He loves getting creative in his photography. Phill uses a posed photography approach and gives clear directions on how to pose to achieve his vision. He uses light stands and flashes to create the desired effect.
This kind of photography approach requires high skills with flash photography and a strong understanding of light. The main advantage of such photography style is that it gives unlimited options of expressing the photographer's creative vision.
See more of Phill's work at: https://www.phillipparnell.co.uk
I hope this article helped you understand some of the most common wedding photography styles. Now, when you know the differences, you can decide which style you like the most and search for your photographer accordingly.
I wish you good luck with your wedding planning journey! Xx
Wedding planning is not easy. In fact, it can be very overwhelming and stressful. But every bride wants to have a beautiful wedding which everyone will talk about and remember.
I create unique photographs & videos with an artistic touch, so my brides feel proud of their memories which won't be forgotten.
Learn more about my wedding photography here.