When you first start researching wedding photography styles, you’ll run across a ton of different terms: documentary, fine art, dark and moody, candid, and editorial, to name a few. It might seem like the list of wedding photography styles goes on forever—and, let’s face it, it can feel a bit overwhelming.
But it’s important to determine what style of wedding photography you gravitate towards before you start reaching out to photographers. As Brides put it, booking a photographer before understanding the different styles could leave you 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 the various wedding photography styles, so 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: technical and editing.
Technical style refers to how the wedding photographer approaches documenting the day and physically photographs it. It can be broken down into 3 main categories:
Editing style refers to how the photos are tweaked after the fact. These styles typically fall into 3 main categories:
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”.
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.
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 style as candid wedding photography. I thrive on capturing those spontaneous, in-between moments that showcase your unique 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.
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 are as accurate as possible to what it looked like in real life. Photos will look lighter or darker depending on the weather and environment.
Light and Airy
Light and airy photos are bright photos that have more of an ethereal feel to them. Also romantic, but in a pastel kind of way.
How Technical and Editing Styles Work Together
It’s very common for wedding photography styles to align like this ⤵️
By that, I mean a lot of candid wedding photographers will edit dark and moody to emphasize emotions, traditional photos tend to be edited with true-to-life colors, and editorial photos are usually light and airy to recreate the look of film photography.
But wedding photography styles aren’t limited to these combinations.
You’ll find photographers who mix and match technical and editing styles to create a signature look. For instance, I consider myself a candid wedding photographer who edits true to life.
That’s why it’s important to figure out which technical and editing style you prefer—that’s how you’ll discover your ideal wedding photography style.
What style of photography is best for a wedding?
Your perfect wedding photography style will depend on two key factors: the type of photography that…
- Draws your attention (so you’ll love looking at your photos)
- Complements your venue and wedding vibe
Case in point: if you are getting married at a dark concert venue with dramatic lighting, you probably won’t want to hire a light and airy photographer. They could still capture beautiful images, but the photos might look different compared to a wedding in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
By now, you should have a clearer picture (pun intended 😝) of what style might best suit your unique wedding and reflect your personality as a couple.
Remember, your wedding photos will be the lasting memory of your day, full of personal touches, once-in-a-lifetime moments, and an unforgettable celebration. Choosing the right photography style is a crucial step to ensure those memories are captured just the way you envision them.
Searching for your perfect Chicago wedding photographer?
If you felt a connection with the candid, true-to-life photography style described in this post, it might be a sign that we’d be a great match for your wedding. Tap here to tell me all about your wedding plans and learn more about what it’s like to work with White Quill Creative.
Not quite ready to inquire? I get it! Until then, here are some more crash-course posts to help you get a handle on planning a personalized wedding: