Wedding Photography Styles | Finding Your Style

Photography, like any other art, has a style to it that is reflective of the artist.  Although everyone’s style is somewhat unique, wedding photography styles, in general, can be summarized into three-and-a-half categories (yes, I said three-and-a-half… you’ll see why in a minute).

When you’re looking at finding a photographer for your wedding day, you need to know what style of photography you want in order to find your perfect match in a photographer.


  • Also called “reportage” or “documentary” photography
  • Gives a very “candid” appearance to the photos; it tells the story of the day as it happens, unobtrusively
  • Heavily relies on the ability of the photographer to react to situations
  • Some 100% purely photojournalistic photographers will not pose couples for pictures which may lead the the couple later regretting not having those few posed shots.
  • A very relaxed form of photography for the bride and groom as a good photojournalistic photographer will rarely be seen during the day.  This is perfect for couples who hate having a camera around.
  • The parents of the bride and groom often do not like the end results of a photojournalistic wedding photographer as they miss that ‘traditional’ component.
  • Photojournalistic photography has a great deal to offer but one of the most major drawbacks is that you never truly know what you may get in the end as the content of the photos relies heavily on the energy level and action occuring at the wedding.
A photojournalistic approach to reception photography



  • Can be described as “timeless”, however the photos end up having a very “posed” and sometimes unnatural look to them
  • One of the benefits of a traditional photographer includes the use of a “must have” shot list
  • One of the drawbacks; however, is that the photographer may seem to be “ordering people around” all day
  • When a “must-have” list is involved, couples usually make unnecessarily complex lists of shots – this means longer photo sessions and less time mingling with guests
  • Most couples generally love their photos; however, their wedding photos will look the same as everyone elses wedding photos.  No uniqueness.
  • Traditional photography is usually considered ‘out of date’ by many young couples; however the older relatives of the couples are likely happier with these kinds of images.
  • Many truly traditional photographers will also opt to offer their clients physical prints as opposed to a DVD with electronic files.
A traditional wedding portrait




  • Sometimes called “Artistic” or “Illustrative”
  • Wedding photographers who take an “Illustrative” approach to their style often think in terms of the design elements of the photo and place their subjects in settings of interesting composition and backgrounds
  • Good use of lighting – often uses extra (or off-camera) lighting for added effects and depth
  • Photographer provides direction, but also encourges the couple to interact with each other and their bridal party to get a posed yet candid look to the photos
  • More spontaneous feel than traditional photography but more predictable than photojournalism
  • Illustrative photography will produce a unique record of your day – it will have the predictability and reliability of traditional elements but also the uniqueness of a photojournalistic approach too.
  • Illustrative photography can be thought of as the perfect combination between traditional photography and photojournalism


Whether you call it contemporary, fine-art or artistic – this wedding portrait is anything but ordinary!

As you can see, every style has it’s pros and cons and ultimately, it’s up to the couple to figure out what style they are looking for in a photographer and to shop around accordingly.

Now, if any of you are mathemagicians out there, you’ll notice that I started off this article stating that there are three-and-a-half categories of wedding photography, but I’ve only talked about three.  The mysterious half-category that I wanted to discuss is “fine art photography”.  The term “fine art” seems to be thrown around by many photographers these days – but what does “fine art” mean, anyways?  Isn’t all photography art?  Does “fine” just mean you can double the price?

I’ve done my research and you know what?  There really is no solid definition of what fine art photography really is.  I did; however, notice some common trends in how various people describe fine-art photography.  Fine-art photography is a subcategory of contemporary photography (aha, see – I told you it was a half-category!).  Unlike standard contemporary photography which captures a posed yet candid subject, fine-art photography focuses highly on posed photos with artistic flare (so no, it’s not like traditional photography at all).  Fine-art photographers typically do the bride & groom shoot on a seperate day from the wedding so that they can spend hours upon hours creating the kinds of images you could never have time to achieve if you were doing the photos on the wedding day itself.  Fine-art photographers, like all modern photographers, will thoroughly colour correct their photos and edit them for exposure and composition but fine-art photographers will also go an extra step with a select few of their images and further retouch them by providing services such as eye-colour enhancing and skin softening.  In terms of fine-art wedding photography packages, they are generally a hefty investment (starting at approximately $5,000 and quickly climbing) and include features such as leather bound albums and canvas prints.  Fine-art photography most definitely not in the budget of the average young couple.

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