Types of Wedding Photography
There’s a lot of terminology, and in some cases jargon, used by wedding photographers to describe different types and styles of work. Much of this terminology can be quite useful, but some just seems to be used for marketing purposes more than anything else. Often it is simply assumed that future brides and grooms will understand what these phrases mean, and we all know the famous saying that assuming makes an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me’, so here are a few explanations.
Artistic Wedding Photography
This is the hardest term to tie down in a single definition. I would suggest that an artistic-style wedding photograph is one that you could imagine people hanging on their wall even if they didn’t know the bride or couple in the picture. Sometimes this style makes use of effects such as sepia colouration, or darkened corners (vignetting) etc.
Candid wedding Photography
Candid photography attempts to photograph the subject without them noticing. This may also be referred to as the ‘fly on the wall’ approach.
Contemporary Wedding Photography
This is another tricky one to define. It could be regarded as shooting in whatever style(s) are currently most fashionable. Alternatively, contemporary wedding photography could be said to take aspects from all the other key styles of wedding photography. Contemporary photography and fashion-style photography are often used as interchangeable terms.
Documentary Wedding Photography
Generally, documentary photographers seek to convey the way things are, as objectively as possible, and without interference. This term is used less in relation to wedding photography these days, since it has largely been replaced with the more glamorous term ‘Photojournalistic’. Outside the wedding field, ‘documentary photography’ arguably implies an in depth photographic study, without much text accompaniment, whereas ‘reportage’ implies a larger degree of accompanying text. This distinction becomes largely meaningless in relation to wedding photography.
Fashion-style Wedding Photography
This is the aspirational style that you will see in the magazines. It is usually semi-directed, choosing the best backdrops and lighting and then partially posing the bride or couple too look ‘natural’.
Formal Wedding Photography
Formal photographs are the carefully arranged group shots where everyone looks towards the camera. You wouldn’t want your entire wedding photographed like this, but your parents and grandparents will probably expect a few shots of this sort.
This refers to book or album designs that use several images over a page or double page spread to create dynamically designed layouts, often telling miniature stories from different parts of the day.
Photojournalistic Wedding Photography
This style of wedding photography attempts to tell the story of your day without interference or direction. This term has largely replaced the term ‘documentary wedding photographer’ because ‘documentary’ implies (rightly or wrongly) a more objective, warts-and all-type of approach, whereas the ‘photojournalistic’ approach will tell the story of your day whilst remaining entirely flattering. This type of photography is often black and white.
Reportage Wedding Photography
This term is almost completely interchangeable with ‘photojournalistic’, but arguably sounds more up-market.
This refers to images in which only part of the image has been left in colour, with the rest of the photograph having been converted to sepia or black and white. Overuse of this effect should be avoided as it can leave a book or album looking ‘gimmicky’ and may cause your wedding photography to look dated before its time.
Traditional Wedding Photography
This phrase refers to the oldest style of posed photography, dating back to times when camera exposures were several seconds, or even minutes, long and subjects needed to be carefully arranged and stay very still. Whilst this style is not the most fashionable at the moment, family members inevitably want some of this sort of imagery to keep. These formal/staged shots ensure that the happy couple are pictured with all of the key groups of family, friends, bridesmaids and best men etc.
If these loose definitions help you convey your tastes to your wedding photographer, then great! Most photographers now shoot a mixture of the styles above anyway, so I would suggest that you don’t get too bogged down in terminology, and instead go with a photographer you feel you will get on well with, and whose work you love!