Hey, I'm Chelsea

As a 6w5 with over 175 weddings under my belt, I'm here to make sure you're prepared in advance so you can live your wedding day to its fullest.

Wedding Photography Styles Explained: How To Pick the Best Style for Your Wedding

Candid photo of bride and groom walking in front of the Greetings from Chicago mural in Logan Square

When you first start researching wedding photography, you’ll run across a lot of different terms. Documentary, fine art, dark and moody, candid, editorial… the list of wedding photography styles seem to go on for miles. And, let’s be honest, it can be a little overwhelming.

But it’s important to determine what style of photography you want before you reach out to wedding photographers. As Brides put it, if you book first and learn about styles later, you could end up wishing you’d gone in a different direction.

Lucky for you, telling the difference between styles isn’t as daunting as you’d think. Pinkie promise. 

Here’s an easy-to-follow rundown of photography styles so that you can confidently book your wedding photographer.

What are the different styles of wedding photography?

To professional photographers, there are subtle differences between each style. But for couples who feel in over their head, photography styles fall into 2 different categories:

1. Technical Styles

Technical style is how the photographer approaches documenting a wedding day. It breaks down into 3 main categories:

Candid

If you’re drawn to photos full of emotion and action, you’ll want a candid style of wedding photography (also known as photojournalistic or documentary wedding photography). It’s photography that’s rooted in raw emotion and moments. Think of the phrase “being a fly on the wall”. 

Traditional

When you think of those classic photos of your parents and grandparents on their wedding day, you’re thinking of a traditional style of photography. They’re the kind of wedding photos that aren’t very creative, but they’ll never look dated. If you’re someone who loves photos of you smiling at the camera, but cringe at the thought of doing anything super posey or trendy, traditional photography is right up your alley.

Editorial

If your wedding board on Pinterest is full of real couples channeling their inner models, looking like they belong on the cover of a magazine, you’ll want to go with an editorial photographer (sometimes called fine art photography).

You can think of technical styles as a sliding scale. There isn’t a clear point where one style ends and the other begins. Some wedding photographers are completely hands-off (candid), others completely hands-on (editorial), but most will fall somewhere in the middle.

Example: I’d describe my wedding photography style as candid. I thrive on spotting + documenting those little in-between moments that show off your personality. But, when it comes to traditional family photos and wedding party portraits, I’m always ready to step in with posing tips to make sure you feel confident and look your best.

2. Editing Styles

After you’ve figured out what technical style you’re drawn to, it’s time to look at editing styles. That’s the way photographers tweak the colors of an image to make it *chefs kiss* perfect.

Again, editing styles can fall anywhere on the spectrum, but there are 3 big categories:

Dark and Moody

Pretty self-explanatory, but these are photos that have a darker feel to them. They really play into shadows and can have a sexy kind of romance to them.

True to Life 

This kind of editing style tries to avoid any trendy looks—the goal is that the colors and exposure is as accurate as possible to what it looked like in real life.

Light and Airy

Also straightforward—light and airy photos are bright photos that have more of an ethereal feel to them. Also romantic, but in a formal, Bridgerton kind of way.

How Technical and Editing Styles Work Together

It’s very common for wedding photography styles to match up like this ⤵️

Graphic illustrating the differences between between wedding photography styles.

By that, I mean a lot of candid wedding photographers will edit dark and moody, a lot of traditional photos are edited with true-to-life colors, and editorial photos are usually light and airy to recreate the look of film.

But wedding photography styles aren’t limited to those combinations.

You’ll find a lot of photographers who mix-and-match technical and editing styles to create a signature look. Like how I am a candid wedding photographer who edits true to life.

That’s why it’s important to figure out which technical and editing style you like best—that’s how you’ll find your perfect wedding photography style.

What style of photography is best for a wedding?

All types of photography can result in amazing wedding photos. When deciding what style you want for your wedding, it comes down to two things:

  1. What type of photography you’re drawn to so you love looking at your photos.
  2. What type of photography compliments your venue + vibe. 

Case in point: If you are getting married at a dark concert venue with a bunch of dramatic lighting, light and airy photos won’t have the same effect. You can still hire a light and airy photographer, but the photos may not look the same as someone who gets married in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows.


Now yourself on the back for surviving Wedding Photography 101: Styles Explained (and pour yourself your favorite drink—you’ve earned it).

If this made wedding planning a little bit easier, there’s more where that came from ⤵️

Here are more crash-course posts to help you get a handle on planning a personalized wedding:

A wedding photography and videography studio for personality-packed couples who want to remember the way they tore it up on the dance floor just as much as the way it felt to say “I do”.