Wedding Photography Style Glossary

Though there are no standard "dictionary definitions" of photographic styles, it’s still a good idea to have an understanding of the following approaches before you interview wedding photographers.


Traditional, Classic:

The main idea behind this timeless style is to produce posed photographs for display in a portrait album. The photographer works from a “shot list,” ensuring he or she covers all the elements the bride and groom have requested. To make sure every detail of the shots is perfect, the photographer and her assistants not only adjust their equipment, but also the background, the subject’s body alignment, and even the attire.


Photojournalism:

Bride and groom with wedding party by Curtis Myers Wedding PhotographyOriginally favored by the news media, this informal, reality-based approach is the current rage in wedding photography. Rather than posing your pictures, the photographer follows you and your guests throughout the wedding day, capturing events as they unfold in order to tell the story of your wedding. The photographer has to be able to fade into the background and become “invisible” to the crowd in order to get these candid or unposed shots. Since the photojournalist does not give direction, (s)he’ll need a keen eye and a willingness to “do what it takes to get the shot.” Many photographers refer to this style of photography as a "documentary" style.


Illustrative Photography:

This style, which is often used for engagement photos, is a pleasing blend of traditional and photojournalistic, with an emphasis on composition, lighting and background. The photographer places subjects together in an interesting environment and encourages them to relax and interact. Illustrative captures some of the spontaneity of candids, while offering the technical control of posed shots.


Portraiture:

Bride and groom in the garden by Cage and Aquarium.

Traditional photographers generally excel at the precision required in portraiture—formal, posed pictures that emphasize one or more people. Couples interested in a more edgy result may prefer Fine Art Portraiture, with its dramatic lighting, unique angles and European flavor. In the wedding world, you may hear this style referred to as the “formal portraits.” These formal photographs include posed shots of the bride and groom, as well as portraits with family members.


High Fashion:

Commercial photographers excel at creating striking, simple photographs that dramatize the subject—and, of course, the clothes! Though not a style generally included in wedding photography, you may want to choose a photographer with high fashion experience if looking artsy and glamorous while showing off your dress is important to you...or if you want your wedding photos to end up in a stylish bridal magazine or blog!


Natural Light:

Bride and groom holding bouquet by Allyson Magda

Rather than using a camera flash, photographers use the natural light found in a setting, usually daylight. The look is warm and, well, natural—yet the photographer must be skilled to deal with shadows and other lighting challenges.


Now, wondering what to ask the photographers who've made your short list? Check out these 38 Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer.


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