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Whether you are a pro photographer, an amateur learning the ropes or a couple looking for that perfect someone to capture your special day, I hope you will find some useful information in the following guide.
Styles of Wedding Photography
Wedding photography 'styles' can be a daunting minefield of various names such as reportage, contemporary, modern, vintage, journalistic, fine art, traditional, storytelling, candid, documentary plus many more.
What is your style?
I have a few favourite photographers whose blogs I follow simply because their photos are fabulous and tell a story. This 'storytelling' theme very much follows my aim as a photographer on a wedding day. I aim to capture the wedding as it happens so that the final photos give the couple genuine memories where they will not look and think 'we were posed for that shot' but more where they will think 'oh my god, I don't even remember that moment, how beautiful' - this was an actual quote from one of my brides; it gave me the best feeling in the world hearing that I had managed to capture that for someone.
The reality is that a lot of photographers have a main style that usually overlaps at certain points of the day with other styles of wedding photography.
I describe my style as fine art wedding photojournalism. I am a member of the Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association - something I am very proud of as my website is reviewed as part of the membership to ensure that my photographs accurately represent the 'fine art wedding photojournalism' style. A lot of brides who contact me having viewed my photographs will also describe my work as 'vintage' and 'storytelling' - as a photographer, it is important to remember that your description of your work is not the only description that matters and what is portrayed to a potential client should also be in line with this. 'Vintage' and 'storytelling' fit nicely within the fine art photojournalistic style however if I had someone describing my work to me as 'traditional' then I would need to re-think how I describe my work! Confusion is never good and your photos should reflect the style you describe.
Of course, popular styles change with time and as a photographer it is always important to adapt but to also keep this in line with your underlying style. Potential clients do not just buy into photos, they buy into the photographer and if the photographer knows their style then this will instil confidence into the client, despite what competition may be in the market. Some clients will prefer a different style to what you are offering and that is absolutely fine - it is sometimes important to point this out to a potential client; if a potential client is asking for 30 traditional posed shots and part of your style only involves a few group shots (and only then, if the client wants them) then to book that client isn't in sync with your style and will only provide disappointment on both parts - honesty and confidence in your style works best! I usually take around 5/6 group shots and have not (to date) had any of my clients ask for more and this is because my style is clear from the moment they land on my website to when a client books me. The client already knows that I am not a 'traditional' photographer that is going to pose them constantly throughout the day and spend an hour shooting formal group shots. I have absolutely nothing against traditional photographers however this just isn't my style of photography.
On the wedding day, I do break from the wholesome 'photojournalistic' style when shooting the few group formals and the couple portraits; I do this because it adds an extra layer to my photography style and allows me to put push myself by trying new things artistically. I still do not 'pose' couples in the traditional sense during the couple portrait session and the emphasis is on the couple spending some quiet time together, away from the guests and the rush of the wedding day, to allow some time to have some fun. The couple portraits are always relaxed and I usually engage the couple in conversation and then let them run with it whilst I snap away, capturing the natural moments between them.
My main aim is to capture beautiful, unique photos, that tell the story of the day naturally and in a creative way. That is the long description of my style and, to me, fine art wedding photojournalism is the short description even if there are a few other elements thrown into the mix throughout the day.
Last words for...
Photographers - find a style that is you and stick to it. Make sure that your description (whatever that may be) matches the end result.
Couples - try not to be confused by descriptions and find someone who you think represents you and your day and that you get along with. I remain friends with all of my couples and this is because they match me as a person, not just my style as a photographer.
"It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the equipment" - Eve Arnold.