Your wedding is as individual as you and your fiancé are. Deciding on a photography style long before the big day is essential to ensure your happiness with the visual record of your nuptials. Wedding photography encompasses several common but distinct styles. Which one is right for you?
Just as you have style preferences for wedding themes, color schemes, and the like, choosing your wedding photography style in advance can help guide the rest of your wedding planning. The vibe you select for your photos can reflect everything from decor to dresses.
Digital, Film, or Both?
Before settling on a style, first determine whether you want your photographer to record your big day via digital, film, or a combination of both. Digital offers an instantaneous record, allowing you to see the first photos a day or two after your wedding. It’s the most common method of photographing weddings as it offers additional advantages, including using the boundaries of creativity by taking multiple shots and the ability to shoot in low light. On the other hand, film has a soft, organic quality and a better range from light to shadows, making it better suited for more artistic styles. Choosing a professional who will use both types of cameras will provide you with the best of both. However, if you choose film, note that this route is more expensive due to labor and processing.
Most Popular Wedding Photography Styles
Photographers bring your day to life through various styles. Considering the vibe you want to achieve will help you select a photography style that works for you. While you’ll find many different possibilities, these are the most common and popular ones.
Light and Airy
This soft and romantic style has no set rules, yet photographers achieve this look through pastel colors and the general characteristics of the photos. Light and airy wedding photos often use natural light and soft, pastel colors instead of bold, vibrant, and bright ones. You’ll often see lighter areas of images, including skies, blown out for effect. Flash is used sparingly and subtly to mimic natural light. These characteristics make planning how to photograph images in the right place at the right time of day crucial. The light and airy style works well in a storytelling format.
Dark and Moody
As the polar opposite of light and airy, dark and moody wedding photography takes advantage of the long shadows present at sunrise or sunset. Light is softer at these times of the day than when the sun is high overhead. Exposures are darker, and colors are bolder and warmer, embracing long, golden shadows that are cinematic in nature. The dark and moody style doesn’t mean sad but edgy instead. The tonality of these images is enhanced in post-production to achieve a specific mood, pushing the contrast between light and shadows. This style is ideal if you’re planning a boho or eccentric, themed wedding.
Classic or Traditional
These are the types of wedding photos that you see in your parents’ and grandparents’ wedding albums. Traditional wedding photography has never really gone out of style but has a modern, artistic take on the special moments at every ceremony and reception. You’ll get the traditional posed group shots with this style, but your photographer should also capture natural, candid moments that reflect the spirit of the day. Through artistic license, a photographer can turn classic shots into beautiful remembrances.
Documentary or Photojournalistic
This style has recently gained popularity due to the rise of relaxed, informal weddings. This style is casual, too, capturing little details that happen spontaneously, including priceless reactions such as laughing during an intimate moment, someone wiping away tears, or the look on your face during your first dance together. This style is all about capturing the moments that contribute to the day’s overall mood, yet angles and backgrounds are also key. While each photographer has their personal definition of photojournalistic style, it essentially captures real moments in time by capturing authentic emotion instead of the forced look that can occur with posed photos. Documentary-style photos tell a story without words.
Fine art wedding photography is a combination of styles. Fine art wedding photographers inject themselves into the day by carefully considering lighting, composition, locations and poses to create a work of art. It’s light, bright, and airy but with more color. This style is perfect if you have an outdoor wedding and want a romantic vibe while also visually narrating your story.
Lifestyle photography is all about you. It’s another type that defies description as it combines several different styles. Think of it as an approachable attitude to get the images you want from your wedding day. Lifestyle combines candids with direction and styling in a free-flowing manner to produce a set of photos that is unique to you and your new spouse.
Other Wedding Photography Possibilities
Some couples may want to achieve other looks on their special day. Aerial photography accomplished with drones can provide a unique perspective. Vintage looks are popular for traditional weddings, while location style can emphasize aspects of a destination wedding. If you’re not set on any particular style, discussing your needs and personal vision with prospective photographers can help you achieve a set of unforgettable images that will last a lifetime.