Your Guide to the Most Popular Wedding Photography Styles

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Like most decisions involving your wedding, choosing your own photographer isn’t a simple process. Not only will you need to do a great deal of research to ensure that you’re choosing the right person, but you’ll also need to make sure that your photographer’s signature style caters to you event’s tone. What does this mean exactly? There are dozens of photography categories out there, each with its own unique purpose, look, and approach to documenting major life moments. The first step in nailing down a photographer, then, is making sure their go-to aesthetic speaks to your own.


The best way to do this… Take some time looking at photographs first-and then photographers.  While looking, ask yourself what you want to see when you look back on your wedding day images (What kind of coloring, tones, or trends do you learn towards?  What poses and light do you like? What images evoke emotion for you? When you find a common thread, note what it is you love about those images). Then seek a photographer with that style!

Traditional

If you want timeless, classic wedding photos, a photographer who shoots with a traditional approach will probably be the best fit for you; it’s also a modality to bookmark if you want to curate a family album full of posed shots. You see more dresses perfectly placed around the bride, a good variety of smiling-at-the-camera images, and an emphasis on family shots.

Illustrative

Illustrative photographers skew towards the dramatic, these artists emphasize composition, use more artificial light, and do more editing post-wedding.  You often find dramatic lighting and maybe even some elaborate poses.

Portrait

The main objective of portrait photographer is to, as their name implies, capture the important people on the big day.  This can apply to couple portraits, as well as bridal party photos.  These experts typically have a subspecialty, too.  You can be a traditional, candid, or natural portrait wedding photographer!

Natural

The main objective of natural photography is to use natural light when snapping images. For this reason, a natural photographer is an excellent choice for outdoor ceremonies and receptions. On an ideal day, a natural photographer will use the golden hour to get your best photos.

Fashion

The type of photography that you spot on the glossy pages of fashion magazines falls under this category, which is a surprisingly popular choice for wedding photography. The reason? It’s dynamic and action oriented.  Most fashion photographers will show lots of movement, showcasing a look, moment, or dress in a controlled light environment. Most couples, however, don’t want this particular style to carry throughout every single photo-just a few. To ensure this happens, we recommend chatting with your photographer ahead of the wedding day to ensure that not every image feels editorially charged.

Candid

A photographer who specializes in this authentic, of-the-moment style makes those candid moments happen. A candid wedding photographer is not one that is hands-off…These images have loose posing, but are still directed. I think of this more of sculptures like Winged Victory, which is Hellenistic (meaning it tells a story!) and has more movement and a variety of expressions.

Documentary

Just as its name suggests, documentary-style wedding photography is more journalistic- and story-focused. This approach is similar to what a “photojournalist documenting a news story” would do, it is “completely unobtrusive.” This is more of a fly on the wall approach-which is why it’s one of the better forms for documenting raw, uninterrupted emotion. It’s also often best illustrated through black & white photographs.

Fine Art

Much like the photography you’d see at a fine art museum, the images captured by a fine art photographer are focused on aesthetics. A fine art photographer is one who is also a creative artist, in a sense.  They will put a focus on the little details of the story. They also curate the light, the backdrop, and use natural, candid, and traditional poses (often with an editorial approach) to tell the story of the wedding day. 

If you can’t decide on one type, don’t stress… most photographers flip between several styles on the big day, depending on who or what they’re shooting!