In

15 min read

Wedding Photography Styles: The Ultimate Guide

15 min read

Last updated:

wedding photography styles.
Quick summary

A comprehensive guide for beginner photographers on starting a wedding photography business, emphasizing the importance of understanding various styles such as vintage and aerial photography, the necessary gear, posing techniques, and the value of continuous learning and creativity expansion in the field.

Wedding photography is a popular genre of photography that offers limitless opportunities for photographers to capture a couple’s special day. Every couple is unique, and so is their wedding, which is why wedding photography styles are so diverse.

However, with so many different styles of wedding photography to choose from, it can be challenging to know which style suits your photography style and what camera gear to bring to the wedding.

In this article, we will explore the different photography styles for weddings, their characteristics, and what to consider when working with each one.

Exploring the Different Types of Wedding Photography Styles

The world of wedding photography is diverse, with several styles, each with unique visual flavor and emotional impact. Each style of wedding photography can bring out a different facet of the couple’s emotions and the overall atmosphere of their wedding day.

A bride and groom are dancing while there is a bokeh effect in the background.

Contemporary Weddings

Contemporary wedding photography is a style that blends modern and traditional photography techniques to create a unique and artistic style vision. It focuses on capturing the couple in natural poses while using creative angles and lighting to capture stunning images.

Contemporary photography suits couples who seek a different, creative, and modern approach to traditional photography. It enables you to inject your own unique style into the session without restraints.

As a contemporary wedding photographer, you’re expected to plan, be creative, and be flexible. You need to have an eye for detail, the ability to work in changing light conditions, and be comfortable with post-processing workflows that enhance your images.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Wide-Angle Lens: This lens type allows you to capture a broader view and hence, is perfect for group shots and landscapes. It also helps in capturing the venue or church in its entirety.
  • Prime Lens: Known for their sharpness, they are excellent for portrait shots. A good prime lens can help capture the emotions of the couple clearly and vividly.
  • Telephoto Lens: This lens type is useful for capturing intimate moments without intruding on the couple’s space, like the exchange of rings or the first kiss.
  • Flashgun: Essential for indoor shoots or evening receptions. A good flashgun can help balance the lighting and add depth to your images.
  • Reflector: Useful tool to bounce light where needed, especially when dealing with tricky natural light situations.
  • Tripod: To ensure stability when shooting long exposure shots or when working with slower shutter speeds.
  • Extra Batteries and Memory Cards: Weddings can last for hours, and the last thing you want is to run out of battery or storage space.
wedding photoshoot.

Contemporary Image Ideas

The contemporary style involves a lot of natural poses and creative angles. You can shoot from low angles, bold compositions, silhouette shots, or movement shots to capture dynamic images.

Here are some posing ideas for the contemporary style:

  • The bride’s hand holding the bouquet
  • Close-up of the wedding rings
  • Reflection of the couple in a mirror or water body
  • The groom’s first look at the bride
  • Guests’ reactions during the ceremony
  • The couple walking down the aisle
  • The wedding cake before cutting
  • The couple’s kiss
  • Fireworks or sparklers in the background as the couple celebrates
  • The couple’s departure in the wedding car

When coming up with your shot list, it’s important to let the unique story and personality of the couple inspire you. Use your understanding of their relationship, their shared interests, or even their wedding theme to inform and add a personal touch to your photography styles.

A traditional wedding photo of a bride and groom after the ceremony being showered with confetti as they leave the ceremony venue.

Traditional Style Weddings

A traditional photography style follows a set of classic wedding images. These shots follow a tight schedule that aims to take formal shots and group photos of the couple, family members, and bridal party.

It’s usually best suited to the more traditional couple that wants a more formal approach with posed shots. This is one of the most popular wedding photography styles you’ll encounter in the business.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Full-frame DSLR camera with a standard zoom lens: In terms of focal length, a range between 24-70mm is deemed ideal. This range provides enough flexibility for capturing both wide shots and intimate close-ups.
  • High-speed flash: Provides additional lighting in low-light situations or to create desired lighting effects.
  • Reflector or diffuser: A must for traditional wedding photography. It helps to balance out harsh sunlight and soften shadows.
  • Multiple memory cards & batteries: An absolute must for any event photographer! Ensure you have enough storage and charge available so you don’t miss a single shot.
  • Tripod: Essential for stabilizing the camera and capturing sharp images, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Prime lens: Great for capturing portraits with a shallow depth of field and detailed shots.
A photo looking through the electronic viewfinder of a camera at a bride and groom sitting on a ledge looking into each others eyes.

Traditional Image Ideas

These traditional photography styles involve formal posing of the couple and guests. Poses can include the bride and groom holding hands, the wedding party standing in a straight line, and individual portraits of the bride and groom.

Here are some shot ideas for your list:

  • The bride and groom share a kiss while the wedding party cheers on in the background.
  • Capture the couple’s first dance, focusing on their entwined hands or locked eyes.
  • A formal shot with both families, with the couple in the center.
  • A back shot of the bride walking down the aisle, focusing on the detail of the dress.
  • The couple cut the wedding cake together, capturing their shared joy.

The traditional style of wedding photography, with its emphasis on formal posing and classic shots, continues to be the most prevalent choice among couples. Its popularity lies in its timelessness, capturing the moments that best display the essence of a wedding day.

This is a candid black and white image of a bride and groom facing away from the photographer in front of some chairs holding hands.

Photojournalistic Weddings

The photojournalistic style of wedding photography involves capturing candid shots of the couple, guests, and wedding details in a relaxed and creative manner. It is also called reportage or editorial wedding photography.

The goal is to capture candid moments of the emotions and atmosphere of the day as it unfolds in a documentary-style fashion. This wedding photography style is suitable for couples who want to see their day captured organically.

The photographer’s role is to remain inconspicuous throughout the day, capture important moments, and creatively tell the wedding story.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Prime lenses: Photojournalistic style photographers rely on fast prime lenses, which allow for capturing quick and precise shots. These lenses have wide apertures, enabling better low-light performance and creating shallow depth-of-field effects.
  • Full-frame digital cameras with high ISO capabilities: These are preferred by journalistic photographers as they produce high-quality images even in challenging lighting conditions. The larger sensor size helps in capturing more detail and reduces noise.
  • Using a fast memory card: A large capacity is recommended to ensure smooth, continuous shooting and efficient storage of high-resolution images.

Photojournalistic Image Ideas

This style of photography involves candid shots of the couple and guests in natural poses and moments. Poses may include the couple standing together and holding hands or the bride laughing while conversing with guests.

  • Documenting the couple’s preparations, like the bride getting ready or the groomsmen sharing a laugh, can provide intimate glimpses into the anticipation and excitement before the ceremony.
  • The moment when the couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day is full of raw emotion, making it a perfect candid shot for journalistic photography.
  • Images of guests’ reactions during the ceremony and reception can add a lot of personality and warmth to the wedding album.
  • Photographing elements like wedding rings, bouquets, or décor provides a break from the more emotional shots and adds depth to the story of the day.
  • Dancing, toasting, and general merriment are excellent opportunities for capturing a range of expressions and interactions. These scenes embody the joy and celebration of the event.
A bride and groom sit n a wooden bench surrounded by indoor plants in front of a window that shows some trees outside. This creates a beautiful illustrative wedding scene.

Illustrative Wedding Photography

The Illustrative style combines the best of traditional and contemporary photography. It involves taking photos that use light, composition, and color to tell a story and create an artistic image. This style suits couples who prefer creative and scenic shots that highlight their personalities.

The photographer’s role is to use their creativity to create stunning shots using various resources such as light, color, and composition.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Prime lenses with fast f1.8 or f1.4 aperture lenses: As an illustrative photographer, having prime lenses with wide apertures like f1.8 or f1.4 allows for greater control over depth of field and low-light performance, resulting in stunning and visually appealing images.
  • Full-frame sensor camera: A camera with a full-frame sensor provides superior image quality, wider dynamic range, and better low-light performance, making it ideal for capturing detailed and high-quality illustrative photographs.
  • Tripod: A tripod is an indispensable tool for illustrative photography, offering stability and eliminating camera shake, allowing for precise composition and long exposure shots that showcase intricate details and artistic effects.
A bride and groom in a scenic location underneath a rock arch.

Illustrative Style Image Ideas

Illustrative wedding photography involves posing the couple in scenic locations. You may use reflections, leading lines, and the rule of thirds to create stunning images that look like a magazine cover.

  • Position the couple in a wide, scenic location and capture the expansive background. This can create striking and dramatic photos.
  • Make use of water bodies, mirrors, or shiny surfaces to capture unique reflections of the couple, adding a creative element to the photos.
  • Create dramatic and romantic images by placing the couple between the camera and a light source, resulting in a silhouette effect.
  • Capture close-ups of the couple sharing intimate moments. These shots show their emotions and the details of the wedding attire and accessories.
  • Encourage the couple to engage in spontaneous activities, like dancing or running. These candid shots can create dynamic and lively images.

Illustrative wedding photography styles blend creativity, technique, and emotion. It captures the couple’s precious moments against picturesque backdrops, producing images that are both captivating and memorable.

A bride and groom head off into the sunlight on a farm road with well worn in tire tracks.

Natural or Outdoor Wedding Photography

Natural wedding photography, or weddings outdoors, focuses on capturing the couple and their guests in their natural environment. It’s a candid style that aims to capture genuine emotions and moments as they happen. This style is suitable for couples who want to remember their day exactly how it was.

Your role is to remain unobtrusive and wait for the moments to happen. You need to have excellent observational skills and the ability to anticipate wedding photos before they occur.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Full-frame cameras: Natural photographers prefer full-frame cameras with prime lenses for their superior quality and clarity. The larger sensor size of full-frame cameras allows for better low-light performance and greater dynamic range. Prime lenses, with their fixed focal length, offer sharper images and wider apertures for more creative control.
  • Lenses: Wide-angle lenses are always handy for capturing group shots and expansive landscapes. They allow photographers to fit more into the frame without sacrificing image quality. The wide perspective can also create a sense of depth and emphasize the foreground.
  • Tripods: A sturdy tripod is another essential tool for natural wedding photographers. It provides stability, especially for long exposure shots where camera shake could ruin the image. Plus, it allows the photographer to frame shots with precision, ensuring each element is in perfect alignment. It’s especially useful when photographing in low-light conditions, where slower shutter speeds are required.
  • Good image stabilization features: Image stabilization is an important feature to consider, especially for handheld photography. It helps reduce camera shake, allowing photographers to capture sharper images, even in challenging lighting conditions or when using longer focal lengths.
A photo of an outdoor ceremony with rows of empty chairs and a sign that says "welcome to our wedding".

Natural Image Ideas

Most natural photography involves shots in candid poses rather than traditional posing. You may use a shallow depth of field to create amazing portraits while getting the right moment.

Here are some compositional ideas for your next shoot:

  • A candid shot of the bride and groom holding hands, with the focus on their interlocked fingers and the wedding rings.
  • An image of the couple’s reflection in a nearby lake or puddle adds a creative twist to a traditional portrait.
  • A backlit photo of the wedding dress showcasing its intricate details and the beauty of the bride.
  • A shot of the couple framed by natural elements, such as tree branches or flowers, provides an organic and intimate setting.
  • A playful image of the bridal party, caught off-guard in a moment of laughter or celebration, capturing the joy of the occasion.

The beauty of natural wedding photography lies in its ability to capture real, unscripted moments, making each photo a unique testament to the couple’s love story.

An image shot behind the groom that focuses on the bride accented by the natural lighting in the window.

Fine Art Wedding Photography

Fine art photography is a style that takes an artistic approach to weddings. It involves using creative techniques, light, and unique locations to create stunning images. This style is suitable for clients who want timeless, sophisticated, and elegant shots on their wedding day.

Fine art wedding photographers need to step out of their comfort zone to capture wedding photos that take creative risks. You also need to have a dedicated editing style, as you may need to post-process images to get the perfect shot.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Prime lenses: Capture sharp and high-quality images with excellent depth of field.
  • Tripod: Ensure stability and minimize camera shake for clear and steady shots.
  • Reflectors: Manipulate lighting conditions by bouncing light onto the subject, enhancing the overall look.
  • External camera flash: Provide additional lighting when shooting in low-light conditions with optimal camera settings.
  • Lens filters: Add creative effects, such as polarizing or ND filters, to enhance your photographs.
This image is of the backs of a bride and groom under an archway and surrounded by brick walls.

Fine Art Image Ideas

Artistic wedding photography involves formal posing of the couple and guests using a creative approach. Shot angles may include tilt shots, photographing through objects, and capturing dramatic lighting.

Here are some photo ideas for your fine art shot list:

  • A silhouette of the couple against a dramatic sunset highlights the romantic atmosphere.
  • An overhead shot of the wedding dress spread out in all its grandeur, signifying the bride’s anticipation.
  • A close-up of the couple’s hands intertwined, focusing on their wedding rings, symbolizing unity.
  • A candid image of the couple in a quiet moment amidst the festivity, reflecting the intimacy amidst the chaos.
  • A shot of the wedding venue’s unique architectural elements, depicting the grandeur of the event.

In fine art wedding photography, every shot is a well-thought-out piece of art. The creativity and precision in composing each frame translate into a gorgeous collection of images that beautifully narrate the couple’s love story.

An image of a wedding dress draped over a chair. A bouquet is seated on the dress and the high heels are set beside the chair.

Fashion Wedding Photography

Fashion photography is a sophisticated and artistic approach to weddings. This style of wedding photography focuses on editorial and fashion-inspired shots. It’s a dramatic style suitable for couples who want bold, artistic shots that mimic a high-fashion editorial.

As a fashion photographer, your job is to use your creativity to create stylish shots of the couple and guests. You’ll need a good understanding of lighting and posing, as well as the ability to communicate and direct your subjects.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Fashion photographers typically opt for full-frame cameras, which allow for capturing high-quality images with exceptional detail and clarity.
  • They also prefer prime lenses, known for their wide apertures and ability to produce sharp images with beautiful bokeh effects.
  • Portable lighting equipment is a must-have for fashion photographers, enabling them to control and manipulate light to create the desired mood and highlight the subject.
  • Wide-angle lenses are another favored tool in their arsenal, as they offer a unique perspective and help to capture the entire scene, making the visuals more immersive and impactful.
A photo of a bride slipping her shoes on for the wedding/ The dress is draped over the chair in an elegant fashion.

Fashion-Inspired Image Ideas

Fashion involves more creative and stylish posing of the couple and guests. Shots include the bride and groom in dramatic poses and guests in unique lighting settings.

Some ideas to get you started include:

  • An image of the bride and groom striking a dramatic pose against the backdrop of the wedding venue enhances the aesthetic appeal and editorial style.
  • A group photo of the wedding guests styled and posed unconventionally, mimicking glamourous high-fashion photography.
  • A close-up shot of the wedding attire details, capturing the intricate designs, textures, and colors, exuding a sense of luxury and fashion-forward design.

Fashion-inspired wedding photography is an exciting blend of creativity, style, and high aesthetics. By incorporating these tips into your practice, you can curate a portfolio that truly stands out and captures the magical allure of a fashion-forward wedding.

A B&W image of a bride and groom holding the bouquet together.

Black and White Photography

Black and white wedding photography involves capturing beautiful black and white photos. This style suits people who love elegant, timeless essentials.

As a black-and-white photographer, you need to have an eye for detail and artistic vision. You also need to have a deep understanding of lighting, contrast, and tones.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Full-frame cameras with prime lenses: Ideal for capturing high-quality wedding shots with excellent clarity and depth of field.
  • Tripod: Essential for achieving steady and sharp images, especially in low-light conditions or for long exposure shots.
  • Powerful light sources: Ensure well-lit nighttime wedding photos, allowing you to capture the beauty of the occasion with precision and detail.

B&W Image Ideas

Black and white photography suits natural poses with the couple or guests showing a full range of emotions.

  • An intimate moment between the bride and groom is captured in a candid shot, focusing on the expression and emotion of the moment, which would be amplified by the black-and-white color scheme.
  • A detail-oriented shot of the wedding decorations or venue, portraying the contrast and textures unique to black and white photography.
  • A dynamic image of the entire wedding party, capturing a moment of joy or celebration, accentuated by the dramatic shadows and highlights that black and white photography offers.
A vintage photograph of a bride and groom in a grassy field with their foreheads touching.

Vintage Wedding Photography

This wedding photo style uses classic elements, colors, and poses. It’s perfect for couples who want something classic and timeless.

As a vintage wedding photographer, you need to have an eye for color tones and shadows. You need to have an understanding of how to achieve the vintage look by editing style in post-production.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Tripod: A tripod is an essential tool for vintage photographers to ensure stability and avoid camera shake, especially when using slower shutter speeds.
  • Lens filters: Filters for the lens are commonly employed by vintage photographers to add various effects such as color correction, diffusion, or adding a vignette to their images.
  • Vintage camera bodies: Vintage camera bodies are favored by vintage photographers for their unique aesthetic and the nostalgic charm they bring to the photographs.
This photo is of a vintage car with a "just married" sign on the back.

Vintage Style Image Ideas

Posing in the vintage style involves classic poses and capturing their emotions beautifully.

  • An image capturing a couple posed in front of an old building or vintage car, reflecting a time gone by.
  • A shot of the bride’s vintage-inspired attire and accessories, focusing on the intricate details and textures that embody the vintage aesthetics.
  • A close-up of antique rings, decor, or other wedding elements that evoke a sense of nostalgia and timeless beauty.

Vintage wedding photography is all about invoking a sense of nostalgia and capturing timeless beauty. With the right equipment, an eye for detail, and classic posing techniques, a photographer can create a wedding photo that transports viewers back in time.

An aerial shot of an outdoor wedding ceremony.

Aerial Wedding Photography

Aerial wedding photography is an innovative style that offers a bird’s eye view of the wedding. It offers a new perspective on wedding day activities and provides a view of the events that are difficult to capture.

This wedding photography style is rapidly gaining popularity due to its unique and panoramic perspective. This innovative style, often facilitated by drone technology, provides an expansive view of the wedding venue and proceedings, delivering captivating images that traditional photography methods can’t match.

As an Aerial wedding photographer, you expertly coordinate drone technology and comply with FAA regulations to achieve great shots.

Camera Gear Considerations

  • Drone: An essential tool for aerial photography, a high-quality drone equipped with a good camera is the cornerstone of capturing spectacular overhead drone shots. Look for a drone with a high-resolution camera, stable flight capabilities, and a decent flight time to ensure you can cover all the key moments.
  • Gimbal: A gimbal stabilizer is vital for shooting steady and smooth aerial footage. It helps to counteract any wind or movement from the drone, ensuring a sharp wedding photo.
  • Spare batteries and SD cards: Since weddings can last several hours, it’s crucial to have several fully charged batteries on hand to keep your drone in the air. Additionally, having extra SD cards ensures you won’t run out of storage space at a crucial moment.

Aerial Image Ideas

In aerial photography, the image ideas you choose can greatly enhance the uniqueness and the panoramic perspective that this style offers.

  • Capturing the wedding venue from above, showcasing its layout and the guests gathered for the occasion.
  • A top-down wedding photo of the couple during the wedding ceremony or their first dance creates a private moment within the larger event.
  • An aerial group photo of all the wedding guests, arranged to form a heart or other symbol around the couple.

Embracing aerial wedding photography requires careful planning, the right equipment, and an artistic vision to truly capitalize on the unique perspectives it offers.

A drone image captures a bride standing on a cliff in a desert.

Conclusion

Wedding photography is an amazing field that offers limitless opportunities for creativity and success. As a beginner photographer looking to start a wedding photography business, understanding the different wedding photography styles, gear considerations, and posing techniques will help you create stunning images that will last a lifetime.

Starting with one style of wedding photography, such as vintage, can provide a solid foundation for mastering the technical aspects and honing your artistic vision. Once comfortable, branching out into other areas, such as aerial photography, can offer new perspectives and challenges, expanding your creative repertoire and market appeal.

Take Away

See more in

Shares

Share with friends

28
Articles
Perrin lives as a nomad in Canada and spends his time shooting landscape photography while exploring the wilderness. Throughout his career, Perrin has been a wedding, portrait, and product photographer. However, his passion always leads him back to the outdoors, where he teaches people how to photograph and interact with the natural world.
Perrin lives as a nomad in Canada and spends his time shooting landscape photography while exploring the wilderness. Throughout his career, Perrin has been a wedding, portrait, and product photographer. However, his passion always leads him back to the outdoors, where he teaches people how to photograph and interact with the natural world.
Responses

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hey there!

    I just stumbled upon your article on wedding photography styles, and I couldn’t resist leaving a comment. First of all, kudos to you for putting together such an informative piece. As someone who’s been dabbling in photography for a while now, I found your insights not only enlightening but also incredibly useful. Your explanations of various styles like photojournalistic, traditional, and fine art were spot on. It’s evident that you know your stuff, and your passion for photography shines through in your writing.

    I particularly appreciated your tips on how to choose the right style for a wedding. Your advice about considering the couple’s personality and the overall theme of the wedding makes so much sense. It’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of photography, but your article reminded me that the emotional and artistic elements are equally important. Thanks for that reminder! Your writing style is engaging, and I felt like I was having a conversation with a fellow photographer. Keep up the fantastic work, and I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more of your articles in the future. Cheers! ??

    1. Hi!

      Firstly, thank-you for the kind words! From one photographer to another you truly understand what it’s like to receive a comment like yours. I find that not many people are aware that there are so many “sub-niches” to wedding photography (actually, many main genres have this phenomenon) and it’s a wonderful way to diversify your portfolio. The nice thing about the technical aspect is that it is easily taught whereas the creativity or theme of the wedding is done from a more intuitive approach. I find spending time with the couple helps to nourish and grow this awareness.

      I hope you have an excellent day!

Connect with aspiring and professional photographers

Learn how to improve any kind of photography

Get access to exclusive discounts, courses, rewards, etc
Find daily inspiration in a diverse community
Recommended Articles
Discover the natural wonders through the lens of Daniel Kordan, a renowned nature and landscape photographer featured in our Trend Report. Unveil his camera bag essentials, insights on gear innovations, and predictions for upcoming photography trends. Dive into Daniel's world and unlock his secrets for capturing breathtaking landscapes with finesse.

Last updated:

Shares

The World Nature Photography Awards is an annual competition open to nature and wildlife photographers worldwide. Explore the winners in 14 categories for 2024.

Last updated:

Shares

The Mobile Photography Awards is an annual competition that recognizes mobile device photographers worldwide. Discover 15 remarkable award winning images from the 13th annual contest.

Last updated:

Shares

We have fantastic news: from April 2024, we will launch our 'Great Big Photography World' podcast again! Stay tuned!

X

Photo Karma 2024 - Free Trend Report