What Are the Different Wedding Photography Styles?

Take your pick from some of our favorite wedding photography styles and consider how best to commemorate your special day.

By The Zola Team

couple posed in front or mural
Photo by Lisa Kay Creative Photography

Choosing a wedding photographer is one of the key parts of the wedding planning process. This person is the one you’re entrusting with capturing all the key moments of one of the most important events of your life; it’s a huge responsibility. (Need help finding a trusted wedding photographer? Browse Zola's vendor directory to connect with wedding photographers from Minneapolis, MN to Los Angeles, CA and everything in between.) As you are vetting different photographers, consider the photography style you’re looking for to commemorate your wedding celebration.

Just as there are countless flower choices, cake flavors, and wedding website designs, there are numerous wedding photography styles to choose from as well. Each photographer may have experience or dabble in more than a few, but most likely, they have a niche where they excel. That’s the one you want to capitalize on to get the best possible pictures from your big day.

You’ll be able to get an idea of the styles of wedding photography vendors by going to their website portfolio or checking out their work on social media. Additionally, if it’s a referral, ask the person who is passing along the information why they like the photographer’s work and what style they specialize in for weddings.

If you have your own vision for how you want your wedding to be photographed, discuss these wedding photoshoot ideas with the photographers you meet with. They’ll show examples and let you know if they think they’ll be the best match for what you want for your upcoming nuptials. To give you an idea of what to look for, we’ve listed a few of the main wedding photography styles to choose from.

Traditional Shots

The traditional style of wedding photography is one that a majority of couples are familiar with, since there’s a reflection of it at most weddings. It captures the posed shots of family and the wedding party with the intention to create a photo album of memories. It’s a classic way to capture the major moments of your ceremony and reception, such as the walk down the aisle, vow exchange, and cutting of the cake.

With the traditional photographer style, you will set up a specific shot list with your photographer. This avoids missing any key moments or group photos that you want to be taken on the day of your wedding. It typically doesn’t involve anything beyond the photographer and their camera.

However, it takes effort to wrangle everyone and place them where they’re supposed to be. A possible addition is an assistant to help with fluffing the bottom of your wedding dress and making sure everyone has their eyes open and can be seen in the shot.

Candid Moments

Another one of the most popular styles of wedding photography is the candid shot. This style is focused on capturing the essence of a wedding celebration through stolen glances between the couple, laughs, and all the numerous reactions that occur during the ceremony and reception. It’s less about everyone being perfectly poised and more about photographing the feelings of the wedding to capture authentic moments.

Examples of candid shots may include the groom wiping tears during the wedding vows, the couple dancing to choreography they’ve planned for their wedding guests, and all the precious moments that happen in between posed shots. Many couples opt for a mix of the traditional and candid type of wedding photography to get the best of both worlds. It’s nice to have structure without taking away the genuine feelings of the day.

What Are the Different Wedding Photography Styles Photo Credit // Lisa Kay Creative Photography

Artistic Editing Style

A person who specializes in an artistic wedding photography style knows how to stage a scene to create the best possible aesthetic. This often includes thoughtfully chosen locations, lighting, and props to ensure the shots are styled in the best possible way from the best possible angles.

This style also focuses on the unique positioning of wedding details, such as the rings, bouquets, cake, attire, and decor. While a lot of it is achieved by capturing the right type and number of photos, much of the artistic work is done in the editing phase by cropping, filtering, and implementing techniques post-production to give the photos their artistic flair.

Documentary Style

The documentary style of wedding photography is similar to candid moments, although the focus is on capturing the moments of the day without interruption or waiting for the perfect shot. This style of photography is often produced in black-and-white for an intimate look into the ceremony and reception from a storytelling perspective.

It involves photographers who have skills in quick aiming and camera adjustments, framing from afar, and shooting the moments as they happen rather than waiting for the posed photo-worthy moment. Also, photographers who specialize in this style may have video skills and can create a mix of still frames and animated shots to tell the story of the day in a beautiful manner. See more information on this in our guide Do I Need a Wedding Videographer?

Fashion Wedding Photography

As you flip through the latest bridal magazines or your favorite fashion pages, you’ll notice the art of styling and how it changes depending on the pose, scenery, and overall vibe of the layout. Posing for editorial photography requires a controlled environment.

To achieve this, excellent timing, lighting kits, stands, and props are all necessary to get the ultimate shot. The goal of this type of wedding photography style is to dramatize the poses with culturally relevant placement, attire, and scenery.

The results are gorgeous and unique, but require a lot of trust in the photographer and steady communication to ensure your vision is well executed. Even if you want your wedding to be shot from a fashion photography perspective, you want it to feel authentic. Don’t let the idea of staging get in the way of unexpected photo opportunities. It’s a playful, creative approach to capturing the moments of your wedding from a non-traditional point of view.

Natural Photo Shoot

This is one of the best wedding photography styles for outdoor weddings. The ability to capture natural lighting and avoid shadows, while battling elements like heat, wind, and possibly rain or snow takes a special touch. If you’re planning your nuptials outside, choosing a wedding photographer with this skill set is a good way to go.

A natural wedding photography style makes the most of the elements, while being flexible enough to adapt to any unexpected changes. There are mere seconds that pass when waiting for sunset or for clouds to pass overhead. However, having the natural light hit just right can amplify your already happy glow on the day you get married. Who wouldn’t want that?

What Are the Different Wedding Photography Styles Photo Credit // Sylvie Rosokoff

Things to Discuss With Your Wedding Photographer

When deciding on your wedding photographer, you may realize there are vendors who can handle various types of shots. It’s always a smart idea to get quotes and schedule meetings with a few to get an idea of what each specializes in and how well you communicate with each other. Both of these factors make a difference for the big day.

Once you’ve made your choice, create a list of the type of shots you want and the style you’d like to incorporate. Perhaps you’d like the majority of your wedding captured candidly, but you’d like a few artistic shots sprinkled in as well. Be as specific as possible with your shot list, and walk through your ideas and requests with your photographer well in advance.

Another thing to discuss is who you want in your photos. Some couples like their family wedding photo with extended members of the family, pets, and special items. Talk about how each fits into your wedding day and at what time the photographer should schedule getting the pictures you want. This will help your photographer create a schedule for the day.

Finally, it’s smart to talk about specific contingencies, especially if you are planning an outdoor wedding or during a season or location where the weather can shift without notice. Wedding photographers are well-versed at being able to adapt to changing situations, but mapping out a few backup shots or styles will put your mind at ease and give your wedding photographer some flexibility.

Deciding Which Wedding Photography Style You Want

Photos from your wedding day will be something you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. It’s important they fully capture every moment, feeling, and magic of the entire celebration. Each of you may have a different idea of how you want these special moments to look.

Brainstorm together how to incorporate as much of your personality into a primary style of wedding photography. If needed, you can always add in one-off shots that have a different approach to provide variety. As long as you find a talented wedding photographer you click with and are confident in, chances are your photos will be just what you envisioned.

After all the searching, brainstorming, and planning leading up to your wedding day, you’ll have nothing left to worry about but to smile and enjoy every single moment while your photographer captures it all. To make planning easier, use Zola to create a flawless wedding website.

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