Different Styles of Wedding Photography – Which one do you prefer?
Different Styles of Wedding Photography – There is a myriad of different wedding photography styles out there; with many photographers not realising that what they do is classed as “Style x” or “Style b” for example. Many brides also don’t understand what the differences are and not much is done to explain those difference on wedding photographers websites!!!
I’d hazard a guess that 90% of photographers will do a mixture of the wedding photography styles below. Very few will stick to one format for a whole wedding and you will get many different styles of wedding photography.
Different Styles of Wedding Photography
Documentary Wedding Photography
This usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle both significant and relevant to history and historical events and everyday life. A Documentary Wedding Photographer will be in the background observing what is going on and will photograph just that. There will be interference from them, no staged managed set pieces, no moving of objects into or out of the frame to make it a better photograph. Documentary photographers rarely cover formal group photographs unless they are set up for other guests to take.
Documentary photographers rarely cover formal group photographs unless they are set up for other guests to take.
Documentary photography generally relates to longer term projects with a more complex storyline, while photojournalism concerns more breaking news stories. The two approaches often overlap and can often be confused. It is best to say that if your wedding photographer classes themselves as a Documentary Photographer they are also a Photojournalist Photographer as well.
The image at the top of the page is a Documentary Style Wedding photograph. Different styles of wedding photography require different skill sets from your wedding photographer also.
Fine Art Wedding Photography
There doesn’t seem to be a definitive explanation or definition for what Fine Art Photography is, but there do appear to be things that help define what it is; which is a shame because every photography seems to label themselves as “Fine Art” and then increases prices!!
Before work can become fine art the artist has to have a vision of what they think their work will look like when it is finished.
Fine art is an idea, a message, or an emotion. The artist has something that they want to have conveyed in their work – often you need to look for subliminal messages, not just those that stand out from the image at first glance.
That idea or message may be something small, a single word such as abandon, or it may be a whole statement, like exploring the way the moon affects the tides. It is a start. It is like a hypothesis. Does your wedding photographer have a wedding photography style thank invokes this emotion?
The work you create to demonstrate your vision and ideas has to have a consistency to it. When all the work is together it has to have similarities. A wedding photographer specialising in Fine Art or calling themselves a Fine Art Photographer must have a portfolio that is at least 90% Fine Art as far as I’m concerned. One or two posed/staged shots, edited superbly does not make you a Fine Art Photographer. 90% of the shots should be posed/staged shots, edited superbly!!!
This is where different styles of wedding photography really show up.
Body of Work
In the end, there has to be a body of work that shows your ideas, subjects and techniques. If you were to get your images into a gallery there would need to be a uniformity to them all.
Indeed using this style of wedding photography all the images in a portfolio of, for instance the bride, would look pretty much the same.
Finally, you would most likely need an artist statement. A short explanation of what the work is about, why you created it and how. This is difficult to convey for a wedding photographer; but when you meet a Fine Art wedding photographer they should be able to talk you through each and every image and exp[lain why they did things, how they did them and what their vision was to be at the end of the process. If you can’t do this for every photograph you claim as Fine Art – you’re not a Fine Art photographer in my opinion.
Contemporary Wedding Photography
The word itself comes from the Latin “con” (=with) and “temporarily ” (=of the time, from “temps”, time) and has the same meaning as modern. So contemporary photography is modern photography.
But as is the case with modern paintings, contemporary usually refers to abstract or unusual work. Just as a painter living today and painting classical landscapes is not considered contemporary in some circles, so does photography; “contemporary photography” tends to mean the abstract or unusual and not all of the today’s photographic work.
A simple meaning may be to think about Contemporary Wedding Photography one in which the image as a whole is more important than the subjects in the photograph. You either hate this or love it. Contemporary Wedding Photography tends to follow fashion trends and can be dated very quickly.
Light leaks, lots of sun flare (usually faked), dreamy photoshop filters, natural light etc is what people usually do to call themselves “Contemporary”
Classic Wedding Photographer / Traditional Wedding Photographer
Don’t think old fashioned here. Think timeless. With the exception of the wedding dress and possibly suits a Classic Wedding Photograph will not age. It will be the same as your parents and grandparents had. Simple, easy on the eye and no fuss. Minimal poses. Classic Wedding Photographers will take loads of group photographs (back in the days of film this was really expensive; now we have digital, however…).
They will take the great images of the bride and groom just being together. Times and attitudes change and so the poses will be different than your parents, but the look and feel will still be there. You will get more photographs from a digital Classic Wedding Photographer than one using film – that’s the benefit of digital. However back in the days of film use (yes I can remember that far back!) a standard wedding collection would be maybe 36 photographs. A large wedding would be 48 photographs. Above that then your just showing off!! Film and hand developing were expensive so this reduced the number of photographs.
To me looking at the different styles of wedding photography, the classic is one that most resonates. I prefer to call my style “Created Moments”.
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Andrew is a Bristol Wedding Photographer specialising in Created Moments wedding photography