Choosing Your Wedding Photographer -
Wedding Photography Styles Explained
You've chosen your date, booked your venue and started shopping for dresses. Now you're looking for a
wedding photographer. There are a lot of styles of wedding photography out there, and while people in
the industry might know these styles inside out they be confusing for couples. Remember as well that
not only are you picking a style of photography, but different types of wedding photography can make
different demands on your time on your wedding day.
Picking 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 own personality and comfort in front of the camera.
There are plenty of different photography buzzwords out there. Vintage, editorial, artistic or
contemporary are just a few. Perhaps more confusingly they are used by different 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 full set of photos from completed weddings Do not rely on
the best five or six shots from several weddings to make a choice.
Wedding photography styles are a compromise between producing fantastic work and keeping to a
timetable. A photographer might produce brilliant photos, but if he takes too long to produce them you
probably won't enjoy the experience.
Traditional (or Posed) Wedding Photography
A lot of people think of traditional wedding photography as endless stuffy group photos where everyone
looks stiff as a board. Worse still, the different collections of people seem to go on forever. I think 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 actual
experience on the day for the bride and groom is very similar.
There is always a trade off between the type of work a photographer does and the time it takes to shoot
it. More formal posed photographs will take longer to set up and achieve. Any photographer who
produces artistic posed work will need a certain amount of time to produce his best work. It is important
that you find out how much time he will need, and work out how it will fit into your day. There are
photographers who 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 be able to help you and
put you at your ease but for many individuals it can still seem a bit daunting.
Reportage Wedding Photography (Wedding Photojournalism)
If traditional is all about posed photographs, then reportage wedding photography is the opposite. It
relies on capturing moments as they happen, and is more like a fly on the wall documentary. This form
of wedding photography means that the photographer spends most of his time in the background, and
so has become increasingly popular with couples. Weddings are also increasingly less formal than they
used to be. Documentary wedding photography demands a different skill set from traditional wedding
photography so you have to make sure that your photographer has the correct photographic
background and can show you full weddings to back this up. Wedding photojournalism is more about a
complete set of pictures from the whole day than a set of a dozen highlights. There are photographers
out there who will jump on the latest bandwagon to gain business, but still use the same old style they
always have. Wedding photojournalism is all about anticipation and being in the right place at the right
time. It is not about closely directing people, so it puts many traditional wedding photographers outside
of their skill set. There are some less ethical photographers who will use the latest buzzwords to
improve their search engine presence, but still shoot the same tired old pictures.
If you are reticent about having your photo taken, wedding photojournalism is probably your best
choice. The photography happens without you really realizing and you'll look your natural best.
Although these two approaches might appear polar opposites, in reality most wedding photographers
will offer a blend of these two styles. There are not many wedding photojournalists who don't shoot at
least some formal photographs and traditional wedding photographers will shoot informal pictures as
well. Find out what proportion of each a photographer likes to shoot, and better still ask them what they
like to shoot the most - chances are this is what they are best at.
Vintage Wedding Photography
Vintage wedding photography is a style that has been coming into vogue recently, but in lots of ways its
a hard one one to quantify. Vintage can mean anything from using old film cameras during some of the
wedding 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 certain style, you run the risk of your photos looking rather dated a few years later. If I was
hiring a vintage style photographer, I personally would want at least some of the wedding shot on film,
I'm not a huge fan of faking things. As always ask questions, see examples and make an informed
Editorial Wedding Photography
This wedding genre is inspired by the fashion editorials of glossy magazines, at it's best it can produce
fantastic high-end images. To produce 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 his or her style. Do your research to make sure that the time
requirements for this type of shoot fit in with your plans. If you really 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 describes as a trash or cherish the dress shoot, a separate 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. Don't necessarily think that it all has to be
done in one day.
Artistic or Fine Art Wedding Photography
Essentially an evolution of traditional wedding photography, this type of photography offers a
contemporary take on the traditional set of posed photographs, although these are both terms that
have been somewhat over used by the photographic community, so again do your research. At its best
this genre can produce moving romantic images, but some photographers can over use the same poses,
so it can feel a bit impersonal. Ask to see lots of shoots and don't be afraid to input your own ideas at
your pre-wedding meeting.
There are 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 is 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.
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