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Photography ‘styles’ explained

When I built my website, I quite quickly realised I would need to use a few precise words to sum up my style of wedding photography. Of course, my portfolio would be the main answer to this question but more often than not, I would be asked to explain and found that with some research I would be happy to go with relaxed documentary – natural and stylish. I felt that all these words explained to someone that I preferred to do non-posed, candid, and natural style photographs with a touch of lifestyle (often referred to as refined documentary) photographs.


I felt so pleased that I had selected the right description for my work but have later realised that, as a trained photographer with a good understanding of the meaning of those words I still needed to carry out research for their selection so it is equally likely that a couple may have absolutely no clue what I’m whittling on about!

So, this blog post is my attempt to try to explain the most commonly used ‘Buzz Words’ linked to photographic styles and how to select a photographer whose style suits you (even down to the wording!).

Classic/ Traditional/ Formal

All these words and versions of them suggests a timeless quality to the photography with elements of the history of wedding photography. This doesn’t perhaps mean that the photographer will be using film or be old fashion in their views but more likely that they will focus on a scripted shot list, very posed shots with plenty of direction and will usually cover the key elements of the day without too much spontaneity.


Artistic/ Fine Art

This is a difficult genre of wedding photography to pinpoint mainly due to the word ‘art’. Art is subjective so can apply to a broad spectrum of imagery, but it generally means that the photographer has a specific aesthetic look which may be achieved with certain poses, angles, lighting or editing.

Editorial/ Contemporary/ Modern

These photographs are highly stylised and posed to produce dramatic and high impact pictures. This often results in the photographer giving a lot of direction and many lighting techniques which can be a lengthy process. For this reason, it is likely that this style would only be used for a small amount of posed shots on the day.

Documentary/Reportage/ Candid

This is a category which I feel my style very much falls into and describes a photographer who is fully involved in the day, following the bride and groom and photographing the events of the day as they unfold. They often do not pose people or give direction (I give a little to make sure everyone is looking their best) but often capture ‘true moments’.

Lifestyle/ Stylish

This style combines most of the above styles and is sometimes referred to as ‘refined documentary’. This style best suits me, not only in aesthetics but in my process on the day. The lifestyle photographer will document the story of your day while anticipating ‘moments’ to allow them to create a more ‘artistic’ image. They are usually more hands off with posing and direction and often make use of natural light compared to a editorial and dramatic style which would involve more set up. They will also take measures to document details of flowers, jewellery etc while taking any requested formal group shots.


I hope this guide has been helpful in deciding the type of photographic style would best suit your big day. I find that my documentary/lifestyle approach to wedding photography delivers a fantastic range of images which really help to tell the story of your wedding day.

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