Wedding photography – what’s your style?

The photography is only a part of your big day – but very important none the less.  Obviously, you want to focus on enjoying the occasion itself, as do your family and friends.  However, it’s also about creating memories that everyone can return to, as well as preserving the moment for future generations. The photographs shape the story, so you want to make sure they tell it in a way you are happy with.  As the famous photographer, Ansel Adams once said “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”.  There are conscious decisions to be made, and the biggest one is to settle what style you want.

It’s important to think about this early on, as you need to find a photographer who offers the approach you’ve chosen.  And when talking to photographers they’ll be anxious to know exactly what you have in mind.

Formal portraiture

Do you want classic staged shots of the two of you, posing against a variety of different backgrounds – in front of the altar, signing the register, cutting the cake, on the lawn or kissing in the gardens before the reception starts?  And do you want formal group shots where everyone is neatly arranged and smiling to camera – the bride and bridesmaids, the two of you with your parents, the groom with the best man and ushers, including a few of the entire party?   There’s a lot to be said for this approach – but you might want to consider some others as well.


Perhaps you’d prefer a more relaxed, candid and spontaneous style with shots that are not posed but catch fleeting moments - people talking and laughing, champagne corks popping and glasses being raised, tears being brushed away and confetti being tossed into the air?  This style is more akin to photojournalism and you’ll rarely see people staring directly to camera. It’s about telling the story of the day as it happened, with all the emotion and energy, laughter and fun, that made the occasion so magical.

Fine Art

This approach is similar to documentary photography but the photographer is given greater artistic licence to add their own interpretation and vision.  While they shoot what actually happened they may use filters, effects or different colour tones to heighten the sense of drama or mood.  Objects or people in the foreground may be sharply in focus, while those in the background may be slightly indistinct.  Quite often there will be motion blur, as people dance, children run about or glasses are raised in a toast.  Some photographers who lean in this direction may still shoot on film, and they may favour black and white pictures.  If you go down the more artistic and creative route be aware that the photographer may not shoot formal portraits – so if you really want some of those (or your parents do!) be sure to get someone who can do both, or hire a separate person to provide those shots.

Edgy and Brave

This style is a more extreme form of fine art photography.  This approach is characterised by unusual compositions, tilted angles (called Dutch angles) and unconventional framing. So instead of a straight-on shot of you exchanging vows at the altar the whole thing will be tilted, with an object like an altar arrangement or a candle in the foreground.  Or you might have a picture where you are having your makeup done, but shot from above, perhaps with an emphasis on the eye shadow brush rather than on your face.  Then again you might have a portrait of a bridesmaid, but cropped so that her face only fills one corner of the shot and the rest is taken up by the background.

Some wedding photographers specialise in just one approach, but many are more flexible.  They might blend formal portraiture with documentary style shots, or do the conventionally posed stuff mixed in with images that are a bit more imaginative and surprising.  The important thing is to be absolutely clear about what shots you want to end up with, and the style or styles you’d like.  It’s your day, your life, so you decide then find a photographer who can do exactly what you want!