Wedding Photography Styles – My Complete Guide
Hey there! Planning a wedding is exciting, but choosing from many wedding photography styles might feel like a mystery. It’s OK – I’m here to help you understand the different styles and labels used by photographers. We’ll quickly explore different styles on this page, with examples, finding the perfect style to capture your day in a way that’s perfect for you.
An Important Note About Styles
It’s important to understand that these styles are not fixed categories set in stone. Wedding photographers often use these labels to define themselves in the market and to help couples find a photographer who matches with their vision. However, the lines between these styles blur significantly, and many photographers, including myself, don’t limit themselves to just one of these.
I combine elements from various styles to create a unique, beautiful collection of pictures of your special day. Below I have chosen images from my own portfolio that I feel exemplify each style.
Documentary wedding photography is like having your own personal storyteller at your wedding. It’s all about capturing real moments as they happen, without posing or acting up for the camera. It’s like a behind-the-scenes look at your big day, full of genuine smiles, tears, and laughter. No cheesy poses or forced smiles — just the real, heartfelt emotions of your special day. It is also referred to as a photojournalistic or candid style.
Analogue / Film
I love 35mm film and offer this as an option in my wedding collections. Already you can see how easily these styles overlap. You can be a documentary wedding photographer using film which perfectly marries the first two styles on this list. I love film for its subtle colours and its grain, which ensures photos feel more soulful. I use film at the most important parts of the day, particularly for the couple photos.
Black and White
I have put black and white photography third on this list on purpose – just so I can say that the first three styles can all be practiced perfectly together! You can shoot black and white film in a documentary style and all of these are brought together.
I adore black and white photography and two of my photography heroes – Henri Cartier-Bresson and music photographer Anton Corbijn are famous for their monochrome. Many wedding photographers provide just a small selection of the photos in black and white, however I provide individually edited colour and black and white versions of every image.
This more than any other style shows the power of a label. A certain look has certainly developed that people might describe as “fine art”. I would say that the style is exemplified by use of medium format Portra film for the portraits and a bright and airy feel. The couples are often posed quite particularly for the portraits. The Portra film – or its digital emulations produces beautiful soft greens and gentle skin tones.
Traditional wedding photography almost refers to a style without a style. I think at its heart it’s not aiming to be overly artistic, modern, quirky or have a particular look. So when some people hear ‘traditional’ they might just think ‘old-fashioned’, but that’s not fair. A skilled photographer can take beautiful, timeless photos with emotion and flair. These images will always have a timeless look and will be loved for generations.
Dark and Moody
OK, so now we arrive at a style that is very particular and is in contrast to the lighter, brighter styles we have seen. This is the point in the article that I’m realising I’m quite an eclectic wedding photographer. Dark and moody might be more technically described as low-key lighting.
This is simply when the background is relatively dark and just a little light is needed to depict the subject. Moody really might not be the best word – these pictures can be full of romance, atmosphere and elegance. Think of the emotion Italian painter Caravaggio conjured with his chiaroscuro technique and you might be inspired by this dark romantic style.
Portrait Wedding Photography
I love portrait photography and it’s an important part of my wedding photography style. However, just because you set aside a little time for portraits it doesn’t mean that they have to be extremely posed and stuffy. Throughout the day I will take both candid and posed portraits. My secret is to try to make the candid ones beautifully composed and for the posed ones to have a little bit of a natural candid feel about them.
This particular style or label is something I have something to say about. I certainly love natural light as much as any photographer, but I would be wary of any photographer who described themselves purely in this way. While all photographers are happy when there is beautiful soft light to work with – wedding photography is about making the best photo in the lighting conditions that are available at the time that moment happens. I have noted that the sun goes down and when it does a skilful pop of flash can save the day.
Creative wedding photography is all about capturing your day in a unique and artistic way. It’s not just about the standard poses; photographers who specialise in this style like to think outside the box and use their imagination to make your photos stand out. They might play with different angles, lighting, or even add some fun props to the mix. The result? You get wedding photos that are not only beautiful but also full of personality and flair.
I would say that a little creativity and quirkiness goes a long way in wedding photography. If I see a unique shot I’ll take it, but no one want every picture to feel like an art project.
Looking For a Wedding Photographer?
If you feel a connection to any of these pictures I would love to talk to you about your wedding day. I photograph right across the UK and worldwide.