As with every popular photography niche, wedding photography allows shooters to explore their artistic freedom while seeking inspiration from others. This results in wedding photographers having several “specific” styles, depending on their intended purpose.
These approaches are not strict standards followed by wedding photographers, especially since every style tends to blend with other styles. But of course, it’s a good idea to understand them if you’re interested in becoming a wedding photographer and developing a unique style of your own.
Wedding Photography Styles
If you’re trying to get into wedding photography, you may want to try out these 10 different wedding photography styles. Aside from giving you an opportunity to hone your talent and skills, these will help you discover your own style along the way.
Photojournalistic Wedding Photography
Often mixed with traditional wedding photography, this style resembles reportage and documentary shooting, in which the shooter takes on a more informal approach in telling the story of the day.
A lot of creativity is required for this wedding photography style, not to mention some serious skill in quickly aiming, adjusting camera settings, framing, and shooting as moments unfold around the photographer. Aside from that, photographers will have to blend in, sometimes with a telephoto camera to easily capture candid moments from afar.
The results are real and natural images that will evoke a flood of emotions.
Illustrative Wedding Photography
Often used for pre-nuptial photo shoot sessions, illustrative wedding photography places emphasis on the composition, lighting, and background. The couple is asked to pose “candidly” in an often picturesque environment, which makes this style an interesting blend of traditional and photojournalistic wedding photography.
More often than not, illustrative wedding photography requires some skill in landscape photography, as well as in the use of wide-angle lenses and sometimes even aerial photography. Once you’ve got these down pat, you’ll also need to learn how to help your subjects relax and direct them to create more spontaneous-looking moments for the camera.
Portrait Wedding Photography
Portraiture certainly yields some of the most beautiful images, more so when it’s of the blushing bride or of the happy couple on their wedding day. This style is also considered formal wedding photography in the way that subjects are usually directed and posed for the camera. It’s not commonly recommended for solo shooters as it can limit your photographic results, but it’s definitely a must to include when shooting a full wedding feature. After all, it’s these images that end up showing the most emotion, and they’re usually the ones that the couple end up framing and displaying in their home.
Key moments for portrait wedding photography are those meaningful moments after the bride finally has her makeup on, once the couple has gotten into their wedding gown and suit, when they can privately pose for pictures with their parents, the first real moments after tying the knot—you get the picture.
Natural Wedding Photography
Often mixed with other styles, natural wedding photography basically involves taking photos using natural light rather than with your camera flash or other artificial light sources. The result is obviously more natural, although it’s usually best for outdoor weddings after sunrise and before sunset, or anytime in the day wherein the sun isn’t too harsh so as to avoid unflattering shadows on the subjects’ faces. However, the photographer will have to be very skilled in dealing with shadows and other lighting difficulties.
For this photography style, it’s usually best to use a bright lens with a wide aperture that allows more light in to achieve more well-exposed images. As long as you’re using the right white balance setting, the color temperature of sunlight will naturally result in warm photos and nice skin tones.
Fine Art Wedding Photography
Another style that often gets mixed with other styles is fine art wedding photography. This one usually involves creative framing, lighting, composition, and post-production techniques. Photographers who do artistic wedding photography are always anticipating moments where they can use fine art techniques and capture unique images. There’s no real posing involved, although it’s become common for shooters to slightly change the posture of their subjects and the placement of items—particularly wedding paraphernalia like rings, bouquets, and the outfits—to achieve their desired composition.
This style is similar to portrait wedding photography in the way that it’s not commonly preferred to be the only approach used for a wedding as it can greatly limit your results. However, if you’re going to be a secondary or tertiary shooter in a wedding photo team, you can execute this style with confidence that there will be others taking care of securing other key shots of the day, particularly traditional and photojournalistic ones.
Fashion Wedding Photography
Also considered a genre in itself, this wedding photography style focuses on showing off bridal fashion for commercial purposes. However, we’ve seen this style cross over to a lot of actual wedding and engagement photos in the past few years. With the use of lighting setups, fashionable poses and expressions, and beautiful backgrounds, this style gives photographers a chance to be creative with their posed shots and for couples to be “models” for a day.
Even without experience in commercial photography, it’s pretty easy to try out. Look for inspiration in fashion magazines and find ways to dramatize your subject and the clothes. It’s always a plus for couples if you can make them look extra stylish and glamorous on their wedding day!
Black and White Wedding Photography
Black and white wedding photography is a good way to capture classic and timeless images. Some clients prefer colored images while others greatly appreciate how lack of color can enhance the mood of their photos—it’s all a matter of preference. Monochrome imagery may not be appealing to some people, but it can actually yield vastly more compelling photos as it allows the subject and the composition to shine.
It’s a great technique that all photographers are encouraged to practice, but many shooters often use it to salvage images taken under mixed and difficult lighting conditions. In many cases, the photos actually end up looking even better. Take the photo above, for example. By taking out color, the photo becomes less distracting and the viewers’ attention instantly goes to the couple.
Vintage Wedding Photography
Thanks to the popularity of vintage photo filters, there’s a huge market for couples who prefer vintage wedding photography. There’s just something about old and timeless images that appeals to people—perhaps due to the feelings of nostalgia that they can evoke. This kind of photo treatment using color distortion filters instantly turns mundane images into artistic works of art, which is why people keep on using them even for daily snapshots.
Many weddings of today are incorporating rustic themes, further proving that there’s a pretty huge market for retro-loving clients. This is a good wedding photography style to learn aside from others at the top of this list.
Traditional Wedding Photography
If you look at wedding photo albums, they tend to include a lot of traditional shots. These are usually classic and posed, such as group shots of the couple with the entourage and their families, shots of the cake cutting and wine toasting, and the first kiss of the couple as husband and wife. Though photographers have been practicing this style for decades, both shooters and clients find that it’s the best way to achieve “key shots” of the day and timeless photos of the couple’s friends and family together.
This style typically requires the photographer to get involved in guiding and directing and posing the wedding party for photos, so it’s important for the photographer to gain experience beforehand and be comfortable with taking charge. But to take more priceless photos, it helps to also capture real and unguarded moments.
Aerial Wedding Photography
If you’re aspiring to be a modern wedding photographer, it helps to keep up with the latest trends. One photography style you may want to learn is aerial wedding photography. This one will obviously require more equipment, particularly an aerial drone with a pretty decent HD camera mounted on it.
Aerial shots are great for showing outdoor wedding locations and the couple in a remote area with beautiful sceneries. Image composition is not that crucial as bird’s eye view shots are usually always very interesting, as long as you exclude elements that look out of place.