Different styles – wedding photography guide

Dorset wedding photographer ianH photography

Choosing your wedding photographer’s an extremely important decision. One that you shouldn’t make lightly. It’s vital that you choose one that provides the style of wedding photography that you like. Otherwise you won’t be happy with the results. When I meet clients or talk to them on the phone for the first time I’ll ask them what style of wedding photography they like – quite often they don’t know! This is a whole new, exciting and confusing world they’re entering.

As I said, it’s vital that you choose the right style of photography for you. Don’t get rail-roaded by a photographer who’s keen to push their style onto you. Here’s my quick guide as to the main styles that are available – you can make your own decision as to which fits your requirements best. The advantages and disadvantages? Well, they’re my personal opinions, but here we go with “Different styles – wedding photography guide” ….

Traditional Wedding Photography

This style harks back to the days of film, when everything was very posed and very formal (believe me, I know – it’s how I used to shoot when I started photographing weddings in the Dark Ages!). The photographs are very staged, almost formulaic, and tend to follow a prescribed list of standard images.

The advantages?

It’s a very controlled style. You’ll definitely get the shots that the photographer showed you in their portfolio.

The disadvantages?

Because the photographer’s shooting a standard list, your wedding photographs will look the same as everyone else’s photos. Group shots and posed shots of the couple. The photographs will be consistent, but possibly lack imagination.

Fine Art Wedding Photography

This description covers a wide range of styles, but is probably best described as being quirky or unconventional. Unusual angles and posing, with perhaps a specific style of finishing applied to the images in post-production to give a “vintage” look.

The advantages?

Your wedding photos will be distinctive, certainly nothing like the Traditional style that I described above. “Funky” could be an appropriate description.

The disadvantages?

Well, as the old saying goes “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and this applies here. All imagery is subjective, what one person likes another doesn’t. Done well it can be extremely effective, but it can also date very quickly. I’ve been around long enough to see trends and “fads” come and go in wedding photography.

Fashion Wedding Photography

This borrows the styling and posing from editorial fashion magazines such as Vogue or Elle, often with dramatic post-production effects applied to the images

The advantages?

A chance to have a little fun and flirt with the camera, adding a modern fashionable touch to your images.

The disadvantages?

True editorial fashion images uses professional models, with photographers and fashion designers working to create stunning images. Bride and Grooms aren’t models, and wedding photographers have different skill sets to fashion photographers. Trying to emulate fashion isn’t always successful, and both the Bride and Groom will have to be fully committed to a large amount of posing in positions that will probably feel quite awkward (how many guys like posing for any photo?).

Documentary Wedding Photography, or Wedding Photo-Journalism

This is the complete opposite to the Traditional style I described above. A “true” documentary wedding photographer will capture the day as it happens, but they won’t include any posed shots. That means no family formals, no cake-cutting, no romantic portraits of the couple.

The advantages?

This is true story-telling, capturing the day as it happens. The couple enjoy their day with minimal input from the photographer (none, if the “true” approach is followed), they’ll probably not even be aware that the photographer’s shooting them.

The disadvantages?

Well, there are lots of photographers out there who describe their style as “documentary” or “wedding photojournalism”, because theoretically it’s an easy style to shoot. Stand on the sidelines, shoot photos, no groups or posing to worry about, just “spray and pray” – shooting lots of photos and hoping that they capture the right moment in there, somewhere. Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach, and it gets our industry a bad name. A skilled documentary wedding photographer works more like a sniper, reading the events as they unfold, anticipating and capturing the moment and then moving on.

Contemporary Wedding Photography

This takes the basis of documentary wedding photography and adds things like lighting and composition to create images that have a strong visual appeal.

The advantages?

Telling the story of day in a photo-journalistic way, but adding in touches of emotion and humour, plus some styled images.

The disadvantages?

None that I can think of, unless you give your photographer an endless list of “must-have” shots that you found on Pinterest! 

Trust your photographer

OK, I’ve mentioned it. The “must-have” list of photographs from your wedding. Possibly the most dreaded part of any wedding for any photographer. A list of shots, suggested by bridal magazines and blogs. The list of relatives that your parents want included in specific photos. Favourite images from Pinterest, usually in exotic locations with amazing light. Please, trust your photographer. By all means suggest a few images that you’d like to have included, but let your photographer do what they do best. Capturing the day and the people. Lots of groups and endless permutations mean you’ll have less time to enjoy your day!

So, what’s my Wedding Style?

Different styles - wedding photography guide - Dorset wedding photographer

Aah, the Six Million Dollar Question! Well, with many years of experience of shooting weddings, my style’s developed naturally. I’m not a trend-follower, chasing after clients who want the latest style so beloved by the wedding Bloggers. I prefer to shoot in a style that I believe in, so which one is it? The answer is ….. all of the above styles! I believe that you can mix fashion, artistic, documentary and contemporary photography – it’s just that you take the best from each. I also truly believe that an element of traditional photography is included, because family photos are so important.

My style’s predominantly that of a documentary wedding photographer, capturing the reality and emotions of a couple’s special day. But, I know how and when to incorporate the other styles when I feel it’s appropriate. As my friend Yervant says …..

“I am a Portrait Photographer, Fashion Photographer, Commercial Photographer, Landscape Photographer all within any five minutes of a wedding day. No stylists, no test, no redo’s – shoot and get it RIGHT frame after frame!”

Wedding photos should be timeless

Most people like to be fashionable, in whatever style they choose. But fashion changes – look back to photos of yourself from even 10 years ago and you’ll see what I mean. To me, wedding photography should be timeless – you should be proud to look back on your wedding photos in 20 or 30 years, not cringing at that funky style you chose because that fitted who you were at that time. You WILL change as you get older, and so will your tastes.

Do you like my ideas? Check out the images on my Wedding gallery . If you like my ideas and my images then perhaps we should work together on your wedding, so why not get in touch and we’ll have a chat – contact me now

If you like this wedding photography guide then you might be interested in this post about fashion wedding photography

Advice for Brides

Blog Post: Different styles – wedding photography guide

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