Last week, I got into the nitty-gritty of how to pick a wedding photographer. While I hope I helped make the process less intimidating, I need to go a bit more into depth about Step 1 (Figure out what style of wedding photography you like). There really is no by-the-book definition for the different styles of wedding photography, so I’m going to give you a simple description of the different styles that I hope will help explain them and make figuring out which style you prefer a bit easier.
The classic style of wedding photography is typically what you see when paging through a wedding portrait album. If you look at your parents or grandparents wedding photos, they’re most likely the classic style of wedding photography. It truly is a beautiful, timeless style that is usually based off of a shot list that the photographer receives from the bride and groom. The images have a formal feel to them because everything in the shot is there on purpose.
This is the kind of wedding photography that produces a lot of amazing candid shots because the photographer has blended into the background and is shooting from the other side of the room to get the genuine interactions between the bride and groom. The photographer typically documents the day’s events as they happen to tell the story of your day. The images tend to be more intimate and personal and require the photographer to experiment with doing some out-of-the-ordinary things to get the shot.
Fine art wedding photography takes a path through the documentary style but breaks through into a realm that is really hard to describe. Many fine art wedding photographers have just as much of a background in art as they do in photography. You’ll find a lot of unique lighting, abstract angles, and you may even find your photographer shooting with film. In a nutshell, fine art photography produces the kind of work that makes you want to display it in your living room…..even if the picture isn’t from YOUR wedding!
There are some photographers that forego a flash and only use the light provided by the environment (which they usually hope is during the daytime). The photographer has to be very skilled in reading the available light in a given situation and adjusting accordingly. This type of photography produces a very eye-catching image because the photographer can manipulate dramatic shadows or harness warm lighting to express mood.
The contemporary style wedding photographer will operate with a bit more spontaneity and is a touch less formal. You’ll find less of the posing you’ll find in the classic style, and more adaptation to the environment to take advantage of a compelling background. Your photos will look very unique and be a very good representation of your day. The contemporary photographer will be cognizant of the latest trends but a GOOD contemporary photographer will know better than to use those trends as a crutch because overuse can definitely show.
The thing that may scare you is the fact that most photographers are some sort of hybrid between two or maybe even three styles. For example, I am a hybrid between Photo-journalistic and Contemporary styles. I tend to stay in the background to capture genuine emotion but I like to make every wedding shoot as unique as possible so that may require a bit of stretching the limits of what is considered normal. Your photographers style will shine the most when you and your photographer are doing the couple shoot. At the end of the day, ask yourself this question: Do your like the photographer and does their images make you happy? If so, that’s the photographer you go with.