You’ve got your ride-or-die, and you’re headed toward your wedding day! Congratulations to you!
There are endless things to think (and dream) about, but one thing you won’t want to overlook is the style of wedding photography that speaks to you.
If you’re not knee-deep in photo inspiration, you may miss the nuances in the different popular wedding photography styles. A beautiful photo is a beautiful photo, right?
No, friend. It’s not that simple.
Why Do You Need to Know About Different Wedding Photography Styles?
Well, you need to choose your wedding photographer, don’t you? How will you choose the right one for you out of all the potential photographers you could hire?
You’re going to want to know what type of wedding photography they shoot.
Their aesthetic should line up with yours. That’s how you’ll get wedding photos that you adore.
Of course, whether they shoot film or digital is important because that will affect their style and budget. But, you’ll also want to think about the way they shoot.
If you love deep, dark tones that remind you of a castle in the Pacific Northwest (if there are even castles in the PNW), but you get someone who creates bright images that are more reminiscent of, I don’t know, a light and airy balloon ride (it makes sense to me), you’re not going to be happy.
So, what exactly are the different wedding photography styles?
The Most Common Wedding Photography Styles
Every professional will have a style of wedding photography. After all, we are a melting pot of different perspectives.
However, you should be aware of a few main photography styles within the wedding industry.
Traditional wedding photography is the most classic style. Think modern-day versions of your mom and dad’s wedding album.
Uncomplicated and straightforward, the traditional style is all about the traditional shots. No BS here. If you just want to document who was there and what they were wearing, this is the style for you.
Most photographers do implement this style at some point in the day, typically to do family formals. It’s nothing particularly creative, and it won’t be serving up any kind of stories or personality.
But it has been the workhorse of the wedding photography world for a reason.
If you’re into formal and straightforward, look for a photographer who leans heavily on the traditional or classic style.
This is all about the candid moments. If a photographer mainly shoots with a photojournalistic style, there will be far less staging throughout the wedding day.
The purpose here is to let the events unfold naturally and to capture them authentically throughout the day. Your photographer will be more focused on telling your overall wedding story than capturing specific shots on a shot list.
If you need a lot of direction and coaching, this may not be the style for you. But if the in-between moments are always your favorite, look for a photographer with this style.
This is for the ones that want to live in a magazine.
If you flip through the latest and greatest bridal mag, hit that one page with edgy poses and an off-colored wedding dress, and your brain just lights up a little bit brighter. Well, then this one is for you!
Let’s be real. All wedding photography is art. But the editorial style takes it to the next level. It’s not a typical style for most photographers, but there are those out there who own this method!
This style will require a very hands-on and controlled environment on your wedding day. Your photographer will be heavily involved in what you do and how you look. Bride and groom portraits are going to be the life-blood of this style.
Everything will be hyper-posed, and the end product will look straight out of a fashion magazine.
If you want to ooze luxury, find a wedding photographer with an editorial flair.
Dark and Moody
Let’s get as moody as your next-door neighbor’s angsty teen. The dark and moody style is having its moment, and it is serving some gorgeous vibes.
It’s become one of the more popular styles over the last few years, and I don’t see it going anywhere soon.
The moody style is all about lighting and post-production. Your photographer will use shadows and harsh lighting to create dynamic, intense photos. The vibe can be warm and playful or serious and introspective; just because the style is moody doesn’t mean you have to be.
But the most important thing to note is that your photographer will likely underexpose the image and lighten it a bit while editing. This creates more dark tones and shadows than a more bright and airy style would.
If your soul looks like a postcard from the PNW, look for a photographer who inserts moodiness into their photos.
And here we are at the opposite of dark and moody – fine art wedding photography.
Think bright, think light, think airy. If marshmallows or cotton candy could become a photography style, you know for sure it would be this one.
Fine art wedding photography is either shot on film or, if shot on digital, it has a much softer and more delicate look.
Natural light and a healthy dose of whimsy abound in fine art photography. So, if you’re channeling all the romantic vibes, then book a fine art wedding photographer. You may also want to prioritize plenty of natural light or even choose an outdoor wedding.
Who says everyone can’t be happy? Lifestyle wedding photography is the happiest of in-betweens. It’s a blend of photojournalism and tradition. Your photographer will be adept at catching moments as they unfold naturally throughout the day.
But he/she also won’t be afraid to give direction and help you pose when they see fit. The difference here is that the aim is natural-looking photos.
So, instead, you’re likely going to be given prompts. Actions you can take that will make you react a certain way and create genuine moments.
It’s like manufacturing magic, and it’s true sorcery of its own.
If you love a casual, natural look but you want someone to help you get there, then hiring a lifestyle wedding photographer is your best bet.
I’ve got a few bonus wedding photography styles for you. They don’t make the official list because they’re styles within a style.
And within the above styles, a photographer could (and probably will) incorporate some of the following sub-styles.
Black + White
I’m sure there are wedding photographers who specialize in black and white wedding photography, but it’s certainly not typical. You’re more likely to see a few black and white photos scattered here and there throughout. Usually, a photographer will decide whether a picture looks better in color or black and white on a case-by-case basis.
This is becoming far more popular with the accessibility of drones. We may all loath a drone when it’s flying over our head (just me?), but the photos you can capture with an aerial view like that are *chef’s kiss.*
If you’ve chosen to have your wedding in a visually stunning place, then you’ll likely have a high percentage of landscape photos. This doesn’t necessarily mean horizontal images; it’s simply about taking in the landscape around the wedding couple. So if you decide to throw on your wedding dress, strap on your hiking boots, and head out to your favorite glacial lake, you’ll want a photographer who can nail a landscape image!
What Style of Photography Is Best for a Wedding?
So, what style is the best? And by that, you’re asking me which style you should choose.
There are no easy answers here, friend. You’re going to have to figure out this one for yourself. However, a helpful exercise is to start pinning some wedding photographs that you love. And I mean, drool over.
Only choose the ones that cause you to audibly *gasp* when you scroll past them.
After a while of that, take a look at what you’ve got. Do you see a trend among the photos? Your vision should be emerging. Maybe a lot of them have unique shadows and PNW vibes? You’ve got yourself a moody style.
Maybe you’re into the light handholds and side glances, the bated breath, and the belly laughs? Get you a photojournalist.
There’s no one right answer. There’s only the right style of wedding photography for you.