What’s the difference between styles of wedding photography?
Here’s an unbiased comparison of all different types of wedding photography styles couples can choose from photographers. A wedding client who was referred to me was wondering about this because she felt there was something she liked about a few of these wedding photography styles – but needed to know more about them to make her best decision.
I’m a big believer you have to be informed about something to make an intelligent decision. So here’s some help to better understand wedding photography styles. Below, I’ll list the advantages and disadvantages of traditional wedding photography, fashion wedding photography, artistic wedding photography (also called “fine art wedding photography”), documentary style wedding photography (also known as “photojournalistic style wedding photography”) and finally, editorial style wedding photography – and then let you form your own opinion of what works best for you.
So here’s some wedding photography styles explained:
Traditional Wedding Photography
Out of all the photography styles for weddings, this style of wedding photography is very formal. The photos typically are derived from a list compiled by the photographer or the studio they work for, which is a compilation of the shots they deem essential to depicting a wedding day.
Since all the pictures are from the list, you’re assured you’ll have the same photos you saw in the samples. No matter what happens at your wedding, they’ll get the photos which are on their list. There’s no deviation.
The wedding photographer stages the bulk of your photos from you getting ready to your last dance, so there’s a lot of intervention and posing throughout the day. This is the type of photography approach where they tap you on the shoulder in the middle of your first dance to stop and look at the camera. They pose you by the cake. They pose you greeting your best man and maid of honor. And so on. Because the photographer has this standard routine your photos might be the cookie cutter bread and butter poses.
Fashion Wedding Photography
Borrowing from pages of fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle, this approach treats your wedding portraits to poses and lighting inspired by those magazines. This is characterized by dramatic posing and stark lighting.
Adds a modern fashionable flair to your wedding pictures. Can be fun with with a little vamping for the camera.
Since there’s a difference between the expertise of fashion photographers hired by fashion designers and magazines, and wedding photographers, there’s a difference between expertly executing high fashion lighting and posing, and trying to make something that looks like it.
So this really not only calls for the photographer to have the techniques nailed down, but the photographer also has to be able to draw model-like expressions and poses out of couples, since most wedding couples aren’t models and aren’t already skilled at posing for the camera, like professional models in magazines are.
Artistic Wedding Photography
Artistic wedding photography (or fine art wedding photography) can provide an edgier look to your wedding photos. It could be with the photographer using interesting angles, nontraditional posing and unconventional subject matter in the pictures. In post production, a certain styling may be achieved to add to the artistic quality of the photos.
This wedding photography approach guarantees your wedding photos will look unique and certainly not routine. It can range from looking distinctive to cutting edge.
Depends on the artistic merit of the photographer. If the photographer is skilled and talented, this type of wedding photography can turn out stunning. In the hands of a non-artist however, it can look uninspired… and sometimes just plain bad. Art is subjective, so what looks great to one person may not look so cool to another.
Documentary Wedding Photography
Also called “photojournalistic style wedding photography” and “reportage wedding photography,” this is a storytelling approach to wedding photography. While it’s usually not photojournalism in its strictest sense, the wedding photos follow the lead of the couple and what happens on their day, rather than have the photographer directing the action.
There’s minimal intervention by the photographer. The photographer is more “fly on the wall” than hands on, so the wedding couple is freer to enjoy their day without interruption. They may not even sense the photographer’s presence at all. The resulting wedding photos capture whatever happens without the people in them being aware of the camera.
You’re depending on the wedding photographer ( or “wedding photojournalist”) to photograph the right moments as they unfold throughout the day, so again, you should thoroughly research possible photographers for their ability to get these fleeting moments. Many photographers deploy a “spray and pray” technique where they rapid fire their cameras hoping to obtain the right moment, but the better wedding photographers have refined their skills to be able to be more like a sharpshooter and nail the right moments.
If you’re inclined to have a documentary wedding style for your wedding photos, check out my post on how to interview wedding photographers for photojournalism style photos.
Editorial Style Wedding Photography
This particular wedding photography style maintains a photojournalistic type flavor, guided by the photographer’s input in the way of ideas with which to tell your story.
This type of wedding photography can offer a creative slant to the wedding images in depicting the wedding story by adding in elements of humor, sentiment and style.
Unless you want to enforce a strict Star Trek like Prime Directive type policy wherein no interference or tampering with the natural unfolding of the wedding day is permitted, I can’t say there’s a disadvantage.
My Wedding Style
For the record, I’m like my wedding client I mentioned at the beginning. There’s something I like about artistic wedding photography, editorial, fashion and documentary wedding photographs. And from traditional wedding photography I believe family photos are important for the wedding photographer to get.
Though I’m mostly a documentary style type wedding photographer because most of the day is about photographing a couple’s real life, and their family moments, and interaction with their dear friends. But when in the course of the day the wedding couple’s personality matches up with the right photo circumstances and slaps me on the head with “wow, this would make such a great editorial image!” I’ll do that. Then the very next second might find me photographing something in a more artistic manner (probably influenced by my art background). And I know I sometimes seize the moment to do a high drama fashion photo when the circumstances call for it.
To me the wedding photography style is a blend: it’s whatever the moment calls for.
(Like that? If so, let’s see if we should work together on your wedding and at least chat about it. Click here to contact me.)
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