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How do I know which style of wedding photography is for us?
There are many different styles of wedding photography but what do they all mean? This is a useful guide to the various styles of wedding photographer. The main styles you will hear are Traditional, Photojournalist (or documentary), Fine art (or artistic) and Lifestyle. My own style is best defined as Lifestyle but let's look at each one in turn.
Traditional Wedding Photography
To me, what defines this style are rows of bridesmaids or groomsmen lined up with all arms posed the same way and facing the bride and groom in the centre with large forced smiles. The photographer is in control and will arrange people carefully to achieve the look he wants. There are many photographers who still practice this style and their portfolios are easy to spot. I am not saying this is a "bad" style, for me it lacks any true emotion but it all comes down to what the bride and groom want as memories of their big day.
Photojournalist or Documentary Wedding Photography
This style is all about capturing events naturally and as they happen on your big day. A purist photojournalist will not change anything so if will be a true record of the day. The photographer will rarely talk to the couple or guests. You will not get arranged group shots with this style of photography but should get some great memories captured; it depends on what happens and where the photographer is at the time. An experienced journalistic photographer will know where to be and when. Be sure to read Lifestyle below if this appeals to you! You may get group shots if the couple and other guests arrange them and the photographer is documenting this element. I would recommend taking a good look at the photographers portfolio when booking this style of photographer as there are many part time photographers who claim to be documentary style but in fact just take snaps. A good photographer does not take images "Uncle Bob" could take. See my guide on selecting the right photographer.
Fine Art Wedding Photography
Fine art wedding photography is where the photographer concentrates on making each image a work of art in its own right. Careful attention to composition and lighting define this style. The images will be mainly composed and styled by the photographer to achieve an artistic look. These images will look fantastic but will not be as "real" as journalistic or lifestyle wedding photography. This style may also blend art with photography by adding elements which were not in the original image to create a stunning work of art; a big "no" for documentary style.
Lifestyle Wedding Photography
Lifestyle photography takes its lead from Journalistic or documentary but adds some direction and group shots. I call it giving things a gentle nudge. I find most couple do want some group shots and these have to be arranged. You will not, however, see heavily posed group shots as in the traditional style (unless the couple do it naturally). This style captures true emotions with a creative and artistic twist and limited direction if needed.
What style do I prefer?
I would define my own style as largely Lifestyle although during certain parts of the day it could also tip into fine art. For some bridal preparation shots such as shoes, dress, flowers and the bride alone, a fine art style can produces stunning results. When I shoot group shots I will help with arrangement to make the shot interesting (this is not the same as symmetrical) but will then capture natural expressions. For speeches, I capture candid memories of the guests reactions as well as the person giving the speech. People often comment that my images are "full of life" and that, to me, is what defines my style.