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The 6 Wedding Photography Styles You Need to Know

From fine art to dark and moody.
wedding photography styles
HEIRLUME PHOTOGRAPHY
maddy sims the knot associate editor
by Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Associate Editor
  • Maddy writes for The Knot, with a specialty in beauty, sustainability, mental health and inclusivity.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Maddy wrote for several different publications, including Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School ...
Updated Apr 15, 2021

Every couple has different style preferences—from color schemes to wedding themes to wedding outfits. But one of the biggest decisions you'll have to make is which wedding photography style to use to capture your big day. Whether you're drawn towards dark and moody pictures or bright fine art shots, there's a style out there for every kind of couple. Plus, deciding on your wedding photography style can help you choose your wedding photographer, since different pros specialize in different aesthetics. "It's important for clients to choose a photographer who represents their desired wedding photography style," says Moesia Davis, owner of Mo Davis Photography. "Many photographers will not deviate from the style that represents their specific brand. From the initial meetings, there has to be a clear perspective of your wedding photography expectations."

Another pro of deciding your wedding photography style ahead of time? It can help guide the rest of wedding planning process. Knowing the vibe of your pictures can help you decide on decor. A dark and moody style, for example, brings out deep, bold hues, while fine arts pictures look gorgeous with bright, bold colors. If you're unsure about what kind of wedding photography style to choose, we rounded up the most common to help you decide. Read all about them below.

What are the different types of wedding photography?

wedding photography styles digital versus film
BROOKE BUCK PHOTOGRAPHY

The first decision you'll need to make for your wedding day is whether to go with digital or film (or a mix of both, which some photographers will do). Digital is the most common way of photographing a wedding ceremony. The biggest advantage? Time. Depending on your photographer, you could see snaps just days after your wedding. Digital cameras can also shoot in very low light—a perk when you're photographing an afternoon-into-evening wedding. And thanks to a display screen, your photographer can preview shots and adjust accordingly. "A digital photographer has more freedom to explore lighting options and angles," says Jasmine Star of Jasmine Star Photography. "You can push creative boundaries without the limits of film." For you, that means lots of images to choose from when putting together your album.

But there are pros to going with film for your wedding photos. Images shot with film have a soft, organic quality to them. "Film has a better range, from highlights to shadows," says Braedon Flynn of Braedon Photography. But shooting with film is more work and more money too. In addition to purchasing rolls of film, processing and editing images take time. "My costs in film and processing are around $1,500 per wedding," Flynn says. "I wait to get photos back from our lab and then I need to edit them, so there's about a four-week turnaround."

The Most Common Wedding Photography Styles

There are several different wedding photography styles you can choose from on your big day. Whether you want a sweet, romantic vibe or an edgy look, your photographer can bring your vision to life. Here are a few of the most common styles of wedding photography.

Classic

wedding photography styles classic
ANGEL PATRICIA PHOTO

Like the ones in your grandparents or parents' wedding album, classic images stand the test of time. They're striking, gorgeous and a bit formal. These photos reflect reality, but they're infused with the shooter's artistic license. They generally include posed shots, like family portraits. "As a photographer, you're always waiting and watching, and thinking what can I create out of ordinary moments," says Genya O'Neall of Vue Photography. "When things happen naturally, it's the best." Love this traditional style? Ask to have the simple moments captured. "It's a photographer's job to turn your ordinary into beautiful," says O'Neall. "If you like a classic look, let them know you'd love a modern take on the shots you've seen for years."

Fine Art

Fine art is similar to the traditional wedding photography, but it has a slight twist. It's known for being light, bright and airy—perfect for your romantic celebration. It's generally softer and more delicate than classic digital images. "The primary goal is to visually narrate a story with an artistic but selfless approach," Davis says. "The artist must remain authentic to the art but unwavering to the needs of the client." This popular style plays especially well with bold, bright color and pretty outdoor weddings (thanks to all that natural light). If you're dreaming of a soft, romantic wedding album, look for a pro who specializes in fine art.

Photojournalistic

Rather than posed shots, photojournalistic photography captures candid moments or spontaneous pictures of people, décor and action. (Think: You laughing with your partner during the first dance or your best friend wiping away a tear during a toast.) Also known as documentary style, photojournalistic style is all about those special, in-between moments. "The style reminds me of a National Geographic photographer," Davis says. "The story is told through photos by focusing less on capturing the perfect technical photo but more on capturing the moments that contribute to the 'mood' of the overall wedding day." 

Even though nothing is staged, pros who use the photojournalistic style work to capture everything (even those candid shots) in the best light. "I choose angles and backgrounds that make everything look its best," says photographer Charlotte Jenks Lewis. "And once I've done that, I try to capture something real from the couple." Look for an intimate space for group portraits. "You get more interactions with everyone and you'll create better moments," Lewis says.

Lifestyle

If full-on candids sound intimidating, consider lifestyle photography instead. It's a lovely middle ground between spontaneity and a styled photoshoot. "Lifestyle photography is photojournalism redefined," says photographer Allan Zepeda. "It's candid, yet done so with some direction and styling—it has an approachable feel and a relaxed result." A good photographer will look for moments but also set the scene, says Zepeda.

Dark & Moody

Looking for that little extra something? We love a dark and moody style because it's similar to lifestyle—but it has an edge. This photography aesthetic (also known as filtered overlay) looks straight off Pinterest or Instagram because of the editing style. The tonality of the images are altered in post-production to give them a filtered effect. If you're hosting a boho, quirky or moody wedding, this style will complement your event's vibe perfectly.

Editorial

Think of this style as your own magazine photoshoot. "Editorial photographers are the most technical of the wedding photography society," Davis says. "The focus is more on lighting and posing." The process is completely different from the photojournalistic style, for example, because the photograhers are more hands-on and the environment is more controlled, Davis adds. If you want your wedding album to look straight out of a magazine, this style is for you.

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