Wedding Photography

Key Wedding Photography Styles you need to know

One of the biggest decisions you will face when planning your wedding is deciding upon a theme & style for your big day.

Everybody has their own preference & personal style for what they like and how they like things to look. And you really want your special day to be an authentic representation of who you are, both individually and as a couple.

Portrait of a beautiful bride leaning into the chest of her groom

How your wedding style ties into the wedding day

The key to creating a truly amazing & memorable wedding is consistency & cohesiveness. So once you have decided on a wedding style you will want to base the rest of your plans on this common theme. This is so that your choices reflect the feel of the day, and everything is congruent. For example, if you envisage a relaxed, simple beach wedding, you will want all of your other wedding choices to be in line with this common theme. So when choosing a wedding dress, a light-weight, breathable & flowy dress would be more suited to the location than a heavy, multi-layered wedding ball gown.

The same is true of wedding photography styles. You will want the style of your wedding photos to reflect the feel of the day. So a dark & moody photographic style would be better suited to a winter wedding in a Scottish castle, more than a wedding that takes place on a sunny Californian beach.

It’s also important to recognize what you want in terms of the approach of potential photographers when it comes to capturing your wedding story. For instance, are you looking for lots of posed portraits, or would you prefer something more natural?

Bride and groom walking through woodland at Tyn Dwr Hall in Wales

Wedding Photography Approach

So what are the different approaches when it comes to wedding photography?


Formal group wedding photo of bride and groom with each set of parents

The traditional or classic approach is as the name suggests the original method of wedding photography, and is generally quite formal.

Traditional photographers direct and pose much of the day, including your bride & groom portraits, along with classic group photos featuring your family and friends.

This is the type of photography your parents & grandparents likely had, before the advent of digital cameras. And, it still very much has its place in today’s modern world of wedding photography, particularly if you are looking for those beautifully classic posed photos of you and your wedding party, to go on the wall, mantelpiece, and in your wedding album.

The traditional approach is always a firm favorite with older generations of the family too!

Photojournalism (also referred to ask documentary, candid or reportage photography)

Father of the bride crying in church as he hands his daughter bride over to the groom

In complete contrast to traditional wedding photography, documentary photography is completely hands-off with little to no direction & posing offered.

Photojournalistic photographers prefer to blend in with the background and capture the story of your day naturally as it unfolds.

This method works well for capturing moments like:

  • The natural moments as you get ready
  • Your guests during cocktail hour
  • Those fun dance floor shenanigans

With the candid approach, you can expect lots of storytelling imagery showcasing the special moments & social interactions as they play out.

Lifestyle Wedding Photography

Photo of bride hugging and looking at her grandmother

Lifestyle photography is a combination of the classic & photojournalistic approach and is how I personally approach a wedding day. I feel that with this method, the story of the day can be told in its entirety.

With lifestyle photography, you can expect a lovely mix of beautifully posed portraits, alongside lots of natural, documentary-style, storytelling imagery in your portfolio.

A further benefit of this approach is that the photographer can tailor an approach based on what is important to you the couple. So, if you prefer, you could choose to have mainly natural, documentary-style wedding photography, with a few posed portraits

Bride & groom cutting the cake at a French Chateau in Normandy

Once you have identified which type of photography approach best resonates with you, it’s time to look into the different styles of wedding photography that are offered.

So what are the different types of wedding photography styles?

Fine Art Wedding Photography

Fine art style photo of bride standing in front of the window at Villa Sola Cabiati

Fine art wedding photographers include an element of both the classic & reportage approach to photography with an emphasis placed on soft, romantic, and artistic imagery.

With fine art photography, great attention is placed on narration & storytelling through the use of thoughtfully curated captures, compositions, and posed shots.

Natural light features quite significantly in this genre, and you can generally expect soft, bright, and airy photos, with varying degrees of color intensity (depending on the editing style of the photographer).

Editorial Style Wedding Photography

Black & white blurred motion photo of bride and groom walking by the Louvre museum in Paris

If you want stylish images that look straight out of a fashion magazine, then you will want to go for a photographer with an editorial style.

Editorial photographers create contemporary & chic imagery, capturing visually striking poses & details.

Editorial images are usually bright & clean, with varying degrees of color saturation, and often include lots of edgy black & white photography.

Modern Style Wedding Photography

The modern style of photography usually involves trends based on styles that are popular at any given moment in time. Often as a result of what is popular or trending on social media, particularly on Instagram & Pinterest.

This can range from imagery that is colorful and high in contrast, all the way through to a hazy, desaturated look.

It is a style that can feel fresh and contemporary at the time, however, it’s important to be mindful that what looks good right now, may feel quickly outdated within a couple of years.

So I would exercise caution when choosing a photographer with an of-the-moment style.

Classic Style Wedding Photography

Bride & Groom in traditional pose smiling to camera

Classic wedding photography includes lots of traditional photos and usually involves very little manipulation of the images.

You can generally expect true-to-life levels of light & color, with carefully considered compositions.

With this style of photography, an emphasis is placed on the quality rather than the quantity of the images. And is a great choice if you are looking for timeless & elegant images that stand the test of time.

Dark & Moody Wedding Photography

Dark & moody style wedding photo of bride and groom having their first kiss as husband and wife

This style has become very popular in recent years and lends itself well to fall & winter weddings.

It pairs well with a boho theme (tipi, barn weddings, etc.), and includes lots of documentary photography in a photojournalistic style with many candid moments captured.

This style of wedding photography is a popular choice with cool, hip & trendy couples, that want to capture the emotions of the day with some artfully moody images.

Vintage Style Wedding Photography

Vintage style photo with boho bride hugging her groom

The vintage look is also quite highly stylized and pairs well with a rustic style of wedding.

It involves a mix of documentary style & traditional photography and can be quite similar to the dark & moody style with some degree of haze to the images.

Where can you find the best wedding resources for inspiration?

There are endless choices when it comes to seeking out wedding inspiration. Online you can search through wedding blogs, Pinterest & Instagram.

Wedding blogs tend to organize their content based on themes and styles, which can help with your search. Whereas with Instagram you can use hashtags to search for a specific theme.

The great thing about Pinterest is you can use this like a search engine. Type in the look you want to find, and then scroll through the images to see what appeals. If you spot an image that you love, you can click on that image and Pinterest will then serve you another selection of images that is in some way related to that one!

A screenshot of a pinterest board of wedding dress ideas

Also, don’t forget to check out the wedding magazines on offer, particularly if you prefer to flick through something a bit more tangible! For a more detailed round-up of what wedding resources are on offer check out my blog: HERE.

How to identify the types of images that resonate with you?

The best way to find out the right choice for you is to explore the different wedding photography styles out there.

Identify what types of images you are repeatedly saving on Instagram or pinning to your Pinterest boards. Are they classic images or do you prefer the candid style? Do you like to see family portraits or would you rather see natural interactions between your guests? Do you love images with romantic vibes or do you prefer fun & spontaneous photos?

Bride and groom posing outside of Villa Sola Cabiati in Italy

After a while, you will soon start to see a theme develop on what sort of images are you drawn to. Although remember that there’s no one size fits all when it comes to wedding photography, especially when it comes to the photographer’s approach. So use this research to narrow down your search for a photographer, and don’t be afraid to tell them exactly what your expectations are.

I hope you found this guide useful. If you are on the lookout for a photographer, don’t forget to check out my blog on Choosing Your Wedding Photographer.

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