This article serves as a detailed guide on different wedding photography styles, providing essential techniques and tips for photographers of all levels :

01. Traditional Wedding Photography
02. Photojournalistic Wedding Photography
03. Artistic Wedding Photography
04. Documentary Wedding Photography

Understanding Different Wedding Photography Styles

Imagine standing in the middle of a bustling wedding reception, the air buzzing with the intoxicating blend of laughter, chatter, and the soft melodies of a love ballad playing in the background. Now, picture trying to capture not just the images, but the essence of this magical atmosphere—each smile, every tear of joy, and the myriad of emotions that weave through the day. This is the art of wedding photography, a craft that transforms unforgettable moments into eternal memories. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer, a budding professional just stepping into the enchanting world of weddings, or a couple dreaming of the perfect wedding album, understanding the different styles of wedding photography is crucial in creating or capturing your story.

Overview of Wedding Photography Styles

Wedding photography is much like painting; each photographer brings their own palette and brushes—in the form of their camera and lenses—but the true artistry lies in their approach and style. The style chosen can dramatically alter the perception of a wedding, affecting not only the look and feel of the photos but also how the day’s emotions are captured and later recalled.

Documentary Style Wedding Photography
Documentary Style Wedding Photography

Traditional Wedding Photography

Often seen as the cornerstone of wedding albums, traditional wedding photography is akin to the classic portraits painted by the masters. It is timeless, poised, and structured, offering a sequence of events and key moments with a touch of elegance and formality. Traditional photography ensures that every crucial moment is captured with precision and grace. Picture the bride walking down the aisle, the first kiss as a married couple, or the first dance, all captured with a deliberate and mindful approach that ensures these pivotal moments are never missed.

Photojournalistic Wedding Photography

If traditional photography is akin to classical music, photojournalistic photography is the jazz of the photography world. It’s spontaneous, candid, and has a rhythmic quality that captures the flow of the day without interruption. This style tells a story as it naturally unfolds, capturing moments that might otherwise go unnoticed—like a tear quickly wiped away during the vows or a laugh shared between old friends. It’s about finding the narrative threads between the scheduled events and weaving them into a comprehensive story that speaks to the heart.

Artistic Wedding Photography

Artistic wedding photography, on the other hand, invites you to imagine a scene from a theatrical play, where every prop and backdrop is intentionally placed to enhance the drama and beauty of the subject. This style allows photographers to explore their creativity, using unique compositions, dramatic lighting, and advanced camera techniques to create striking, memorable images that stand out as works of art in their own right.

Documentary Wedding Photography

Finally, documentary photography is the cinema vérité of wedding styles. It’s real, raw, and immersive, capturing the wedding as it genuinely happens, with little to no intervention from the photographer. This style is perfect for couples who want to look back and see the real emotions and natural reactions of their guests, offering a true-to-life recount of their special day that can be relived for generations.

Engaging the Reader

As we explore each style further, consider which resonates most with your personal or professional vision. Are you drawn to the elegance and formality of traditional styles, or do you find yourself captivated by the candid, narrative-rich approach of photojournalism? Perhaps the creative potential of artistic photography excites you, or the authenticity of documentary photography appeals to your desire for genuine storytelling.

In the next sections, we’ll dive deeper into each style, providing you with the insights and examples you need to refine your approach or make an informed choice for your own wedding. Engage with the content by reflecting on which style best captures the essence of the stories you wish to tell or remember.

Traditional Wedding Photography
Traditional Wedding Photography

Traditional Wedding Photography

In the realm of wedding photography, the traditional approach is akin to a well-rehearsed orchestra—every element and participant perfectly placed, every moment meticulously timed, and the outcome, invariably elegant and timeless. This style is steeped in the rituals and customs of weddings, ensuring that every significant moment is captured with grace and precision.

Key Characteristics of Traditional Wedding Photography

At its core, traditional wedding photography is characterised by its highly structured and posed nature. The focus is on posed shots that require the photographer to arrange people and settings to capture the classic images that are often seen gracing the pages of family mantelpieces and wedding albums.

  • Posed Shots: These are the hallmark of this style. From the exchange of rings to group photos with family and friends, each shot is carefully posed to look its best.
  • Formal Settings: Traditional photography often uses the ceremonial settings of the day—the altar, the aisle, the ornate gates of the venue—as backdrops for the photographs.
  • Classic Shots List: A typical list would include the first kiss, the cutting of the cake, the first dance, and family portraits. These photos adhere to a tried and tested formula that ensures no key moment is missed.

Equipment Typically Used

The equipment for traditional wedding photography generally includes a range of cameras and lenses suited for capturing detailed and well-composed shots. A DSLR or mirrorless camera with a selection of lenses, such as a 70-200mm for tight shots and an 85mm prime for beautifully blurred backgrounds, is common. Additionally, flash units are crucial, especially for indoor settings or dimly lit environments, to ensure each photo is brightly and evenly lit.

Best Scenarios or Themes for This Style

Traditional wedding photography shines in formal weddings where the emphasis is on the ceremonial aspects of the day. It is particularly well-suited to grand venues like churches or stately homes, where the grandeur of the surroundings complements the style’s focus on elegance and formality.

Real-World Example: A Traditional Wedding Shoot

Allow me to take you through a case study from a traditional wedding I documented last summer. The venue was a magnificent Château Pape Clément in South Of France—a perfect match for this photography style. The couple, Kayla & Kevin, wished for their wedding photos to reflect the solemnity and the splendour of their setting. Check out the picture below :

Different Wedding Photography Styles
Kayla & Kevin – Wedding at Château Pape Clément

Planning and Execution:

  • Pre-Wedding Consultation: We met several times to discuss their vision and to compile the shot list. Attention to detail was paramount, ensuring we planned for every family combination and key event.
  • On the Day: The day was rigorously structured. I arrived early to capture the preparations and decorations. As guests arrived, I took formal portraits, followed by the ceremony. Each part of the ceremony was captured from multiple angles, ensuring all expressions and emotions were documented.
  • Post-Ceremony: After the ceremony, while guests enjoyed a cocktail hour, we took more formal shots with the bridal party and families in the lush gardens of the church. The reception followed, where speeches, the first dance, and the cutting of the cake were all captured in a traditional style.

The result was a collection of photographs that not only adhered to the traditions of wedding photography but also encapsulated the personal story and style of Emily and John. Each image was a testament to the elegance of their day, preserved forever in their meticulously crafted wedding album.

In the traditional approach to wedding photography, every frame is a pause, a moment caught in time, reflecting the beauty and the solemnity of the wedding day. For those who value the classic and timeless, this style remains a steadfast favourite.

Photojournalistic Wedding Photography

Imagine yourself as a fly on the wall at a bustling wedding celebration; you’re there in every moment, observing quietly, capturing the laughter, tears, and spontaneous dances without ever intruding. This is the essence of photojournalistic wedding photography—a candid, documentary approach that aims to tell the authentic story of the day as it naturally unfolds.

Emphasis on Capturing Moments as They Happen

The core of photojournalistic photography lies in its raw, unscripted nature. Unlike traditional photography, where poses and settings are often predetermined, photojournalism thrives on spontaneity. This style captures the day’s events not as a series of posed moments but as a fluid narrative, rich with genuine emotions and unguarded expressions. It’s about seizing those fleeting glances, the tears quickly brushed away during speeches, and the laughter erupting from impromptu antics.

Skills Needed: Quick Reflexes, Eye for Detail

To excel in photojournalistic wedding photography, one must possess not only technical camera skills but also an intuitive sense for capturing the moment. Quick reflexes are essential; a photographer must anticipate and react swiftly to capture a moment before it passes. An eye for detail is equally important, as it allows the photographer to notice and frame subtle interactions and expressions that might otherwise go unnoticed, turning them into powerful images that tell parts of the day’s story.

Ideal Wedding Themes for This Style

Photojournalistic photography is versatile and can adapt to any setting or theme, but it particularly shines in weddings that are laid-back, full of personality, and perhaps a little unconventional. Outdoor weddings, with their unpredictable elements and dynamic settings, or urban weddings that move from quaint chapels to bustling city streets, provide rich backdrops for this style. These environments offer endless opportunities for candid shots that a photojournalist can artfully capture.

Real-World Example: A Day in the Life of a Wedding Through a Photojournalist’s Lens

Let me walk you through a wedding I documented last summer at the Ardington House, a splendid venue known for its breathtaking grounds and elegant architecture. The couple, John & Georgina, were keen on a natural style of photography that would capture their day without intrusion.

Wedding Photography Styles
John & Georgina at Ardington House

The Day Through My Lens:

  • Morning Preparations: My day began with capturing the flurry of activity in the bridal suite, the bridesmaids giggling as they got ready, and the groom’s nervous adjustments to his tie in the mirror.
  • The Ceremony: As guests gathered, I took candid shots of their arrivals, the stolen glances, and the casual reunions. During the ceremony, I focused on capturing the emotional exchanges: Sophie’s teary-eyed joy, Alex’s adoring smiles, and their parents’ proud, emotional faces.
  • The Reception: The reception was a treasure trove of moments. I photographed the couple mingling with guests, the spontaneous dance-offs, and the children playing on the lawn. The speeches were particularly emotive, with plenty of laughter and a few tender moments that tugged at the heartstrings.

Engagement: Interactive Before-and-After Editing Samples

To illustrate the impact of subtle photojournalistic editing, here’s a before-and-after look at one of the day’s memorable shots: John & Georgina sitting on the stairs outside Ardington House. The original image captures their relaxed postures and genuine smiles, a brief moment of respite in their exhilarating day. The edited image enhances the natural lighting and shadows, bringing a warm, intimate focus to their expressions. Check this picture below :

John Georgina Ardington House
John & Georgina sitting on the stairs

This style of photography allows us to be silent storytellers, to document the day as it truthfully unfolds, capturing memories that are not just seen but felt. For those who cherish authenticity and emotion in their wedding photos, photojournalistic photography offers a beautiful, unfiltered reflection of their special day.

Artistic Wedding Photography

In the tapestry of wedding photography, the artistic style is where the photographer’s individual creativity takes centre stage, painting each frame with the brushstrokes of their unique vision. This style is not just about capturing moments—it’s about elevating them into a form of art that transcends the ordinary, making the memories not only palpable but visually mesmerising.

Infusing Art into Wedding Photos

Artistic wedding photography is akin to an alchemist’s lab, where the mundane is transformed into the sublime. Photographers become artists, utilising every tool at their disposal to infuse each photo with a sense of artistry. They play with light and shadow, composition and perspective, to create images that might as well belong in the hallowed halls of a gallery. Each photo is a deliberate creation, an orchestrated moment where the emotion of the day is captured with an aesthetic flair that only the eye of an artist can conceive.

The Dance of Collaboration

The creation of these artistic images is not a solo performance; it’s a duet, a collaboration between the photographer and the couple. It is vital that the couple shares their vision and trusts the photographer to interpret it through the lens. This partnership is built on communication, trust, and a shared vision, making the resulting images a perfect harmony of the couple’s personality and the photographer’s artistic instincts.

Crafting the Creative Shots

Artistic photographers seek out the types of shots that are often described as ‘creative’ – those that feature silhouettes against a twilight sky, reflections in rain-kissed surfaces, or the dramatic interplay of light and shadow in an urban backdrop. They leverage dramatic backgrounds, such as the striking contrast of a red-brick building against a bridal gown, to create a visual narrative that tells the story of the day in a way words never could.

Real-World Example: Rachel & Chris’s New York Wedding

Take, for instance, Rachel and Chris’s wedding, set against the iconic backdrop of Washington Street, New York. The couple stood hand-in-hand next to a red-brick building, the epitome of New York’s characterful architecture. The photo played with the duality of highlights and shadows, the light wrapping around them to create a halo effect while the shadows added depth and drama to their embrace.

This moment, frozen in time, wasn’t just about their union but also about the story of the place they chose to represent their bond. It was a dance of contrasts and textures, the warmth of their connection set against the cool poise of the city’s charm. Check this picture below :

Artistic Wedding Photography
Rachel and Chris’s wedding in New York

Engagement: A Gallery to Captivate and Inspire

A gallery of artistic wedding photos allows readers to stroll through a virtual exhibit of love and artistry. As you view Rachel and Chris’s moment captured on Washington Street, alongside other artistic images, you’re invited to select your favourite. Which image resonates with you? Which one captures the imagination and holds a story that you wish to tell? Through these interactive galleries, we not only showcase the breadth of artistic photography but also engage with the audience to understand which styles speak to them the most profoundly.

Artistic wedding photography isn’t just about documenting a day; it’s about capturing the essence of a couple’s love in a way that will forever remind them of their commitment to each other, and the beauty of the day they became one.

Documentary Wedding Photography

In the vivid landscape of wedding photography, documentary style emerges as the candid chronicler, the unseen observer who quietly etches the narrative of the day onto a visual canvas. This is where my heart lies, in the honest and unscripted storytelling that documentary photography affords.

The Storytelling Tapestry

Documentary photography is about the authentic tale of the wedding day, weaving together a series of moments that, when united, tell a complete story. It’s about the anticipation vibrating through the bridal suite, the nervous fidgeting of the groomsmen, the misty eyes of parents, and the uninhibited joy on the dance floor. It’s not just the significant moments; it’s the in-betweens, the laughter between old friends and the children twirling in their Sunday best—these are the threads that form the rich narrative tapestry of the day.

Embracing the Unscripted

This style isn’t without its challenges; it requires a keen eye and the ability to anticipate moments before they unfold. It’s about being in the right place at the right time, without ever dictating the flow of events. The reward, however, is immeasurable. Each photograph holds a truth, a genuine slice of time that together doesn’t just show a wedding but tells the story of your day.

Preparing for the Day

As a photographer, preparation for a documentary-style wedding is less about shot lists and more about understanding the couple, the venue, and the guests. It’s about knowing the day’s schedule so intimately that you can be at the helm of each moment as it occurs, all while blending seamlessly into the background.

Real-World Example: Behind the Scenes

Consider Amelia & James’s countryside wedding at South Farm—a day filled with heartfelt moments and the rustic charm of the English landscape. Behind the scenes, I was everywhere and nowhere; capturing the quick smiles and fleeting glances, the nervous hands clasping tightly, and the sigh of relief as vows were exchanged.

From the first light of dawn casting shadows through the barn to the last candle flickering out under the starlit sky, every picture told a part of their story. No poses, no re-enactments, just pure, unadulterated joy, sorrow, excitement, and love, documented for them to relive for years to come.

Documentary Wedding Photography
Amelia & James Wedding at South Farm

Engagement: An Interactive Journey

Imagine an interactive timeline of Alice and Sam’s wedding day through the lens of a documentary photographer. Click through the moments, each photo a chapter, each chapter a cornerstone of their wedding story. Engage with the timeline, witness the day evolve, and see the power of unscripted photography in narrating the unparalleled story of a wedding day.

Documentary wedding photography isn’t just about taking photos; it’s about capturing life, love, and all the moments in between. It’s the art of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and etching the ephemeral into eternity.

Conclusion

As we’ve journeyed through the different wedding photography styles, from the poised elegance of traditional to the raw truth of documentary, we’ve uncovered the profound impact that photography has on capturing the essence of a couple’s union. Each of these different wedding photography styles offers a unique lens through which we can view and remember one of life’s most significant milestones.

The traditional style, with its structured composition, appeals to those who adore classic beauty and formality. Photojournalistic approaches offer a candid narrative, perfect for couples who wish their story to be captured as it naturally unfolds. Artistic wedding photography is tailored for the visionaries who yearn for their romance to be immortalised with creative flair. Documentary wedding photography resonates with those who seek authenticity, desiring a true account of their day, told one unposed image at a time.

As we reflect on these different wedding photography styles, the importance of aligning your chosen style with the couple’s personality and wedding theme cannot be overstated. It is this harmony between subject and style that elevates wedding photos from mere images to cherished memories.

I invite you, whether you’re behind the camera or in front of it, to consider these different wedding photography styles carefully. Which style speaks to you? Which one mirrors your personal narrative or artistic vision? Engage with us, share your preferences, or pose questions about which of the different wedding photography styles might best suit your unique love story. Your insights and queries are the heartbeat of our community, and together, we can unveil the different wedding photography styles that will best tell your tale of love.

Meet Your London Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

About The Author

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Tom Kornatowski, an acclaimed wedding photographer and videographer, brings a deep-rooted passion for capturing the essence of weddings through his lens. Inspired by the classic beauty of Renaissance art, Tom’s photography is marked by its elegant, timeless style.

With a portfolio spanning over 300 weddings, Tom has honed his craft not only in the UK but also in exotic locations worldwide, including the scenic Amalfi Coast, Lake Como, and the historic castles of Spain and France. His dedication to capturing the unique atmosphere of each wedding makes him a celebrated name in the field.

Tom is dedicated to continual improvement and regularly engages in professional development through various courses in videography, photography, and production. This commitment ensures he stays at the cutting edge, consistently producing top-tier work.

Known for his professionalism and meticulous attention to detail, Tom has earned accolades from many couples. His ability to vividly capture the special moments of a wedding day has made him a preferred photographer for those wishing to immortalize their celebrations.

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