Wedding Photography Styles
You might not have realised it yet, but you have probably been short listing your potential photographers based on their individual artistic “Style” even if you don’t consciously know what styles are out there or the difference s between them.
It’s always important to let potential photographers know exactly what artistic style you want. Bare in mind though that often photographers will have a blended style encompassing one or more of the categories below.
Traditional/Formal: In this ‘classic-style’ the photographer works from a “shot list” to ensure he or she covers all the formal elements that are typically requested. This is quite structured and can appear formal or “posed” and while a lot of clients tell me they want their photography to not appear posed, there is nothing wrong with this style for those that do.
Photojournalistic: This style is reminiscent of photojournalists who cover events and are more “documentary” in nature (but hopefully not like the work of a war correspondent). This style is quite candid, unstructured and spontaneous and you will rarely see people posing for the camera. These types of pictures capture the genuine moments and should tell a story. The downside to this approach is that you might not get all the photos you planned; you only get what happens on the day. If the photographer misses something you don’t normally stop and re-create that event because Uncle Dave has a habit of photo-bombing at the most inconvenient times.
Portraiture: This style traditionally uses posed shots of you and your friends, & family. A good portrait style photographer can create images that do not appear posed, but he/she will pose/direct you to achieve this and you need to be quite comfortable in front of the camera to pull off this style.
Fine Art: This can mean many things and is probably the most varied of the creative styles. Sometimes this means the images are very quirky, sometimes moody, sometimes dark and contrasted, sometimes very abstract depending on the artistic interpretation of the photographer. Not everyone will like the style of an individual Fine Art Photographer, but those that do love it, and they love that they have highly unique images of their wedding day. This style requires the highest level of trust from the client.
Illustrative: This style is essentially a blend of traditional and photojournalistic, with an emphasis on composition, lighting, and background. The photographer finds interesting environments and encourages the couple to relax and interact. The benefit of the illustrative style is that it seems to have the spontaneity of candids, while it actually offers the technical control of portraiture. The illustrative style is my preferred default approach to wedding photography.
Natural Light: Rather than using artificial lighting, the photographer utilises the natural light found in a setting, usually daylight. The feel of natural light is warm and muted. For this style to work, you must have a technically skilled photographer who knows how to deal with lighting challenges. I might argue that this is not so much a style as a shooting strategy and is employed by most photographers to various degrees of success.
So what is my particular style of wedding photography? That is actually a good question. I tend to gravitate by default to Illustrative and this is what most wedding couples tend to like (and this is what I shoot for most clients who just want images on file and are not interested in an album), but I love clients who want to be bold and decide up front that they want a strong Fine Art statement.