Wedding Photography Styles (From a photographer’s perspective)

Wedding photography styles are as varied as the couples who hire photographers to capture their big day. But all Wedding photography styles have one common goal: to beautifully document the wedding day, from start to finish. While every photographer is unique, there are a few general characteristics, categories and terms that will help you understand the different styles and approaches of photographers.

The Primary Shooting Styles

Most wedding photographers cannot be pigeonholed into one single style below. In reality, most wedding couples want some of every style below depending on the intended use of the photo and the portion of the wedding day. Let’s start with the three primary shooting styles for wedding photographers.

Traditional Wedding Photography

Traditional Wedding Photography is a straightforward approach to wedding photography that you may have seen in your parent’s wedding photos. These photos do not focus or prioritize creativity but instead they emphasize more technical rules and guidelines. Often times the images don’t have anything “wrong” with them, but they are also not the most impactful.

the couples poses will include a lot of “look into the camera and smile” photos, and the group poses will mostly be symmetrical with everyone looking into the camera.

Photojournalistic Wedding Photography

Other names: Candid Wedding Photography, Documentary Wedding Photography

Photojournalistic wedding photography focuses more on capturing the day as it happens with a more “fly-on-the-wall” approach. Photojournalistic or candid wedding photographers anticipate emotion throughout the day and find perfectly timed photos of these moments. Rather than setting up a scene or reenacting moments, these documentary photographers tend to let things unfold on their own. In their portfolios, you might find lots of tears of joy during first looks, cute or funny photos of kids at weddings, fun and energetic dance floor photos and other impactful moments throughout the day.

colshaw hall wedding damian brandon photography

Image by Damian Brandon

Editorial Wedding Photography

Other names: High Fashion Wedding Photography

Editorial Wedding Photography is what you might find on the cover of a magazine. With this style of wedding photography, you might see more variation in group poses. For example, in some group photos, you might see some subjects standing and some sitting like the example below.

While in traditional wedding photography, most of the photos has the couple looking into the camera and smiling, with editorial wedding photography, you might see the couple looking off camera with different expressions such as the image below.

editorial wedding photography

Image by Lin and Jirsa

The Primary Post Production Styles

Below are the most popular post production styles for wedding photography. Keep in mind, however, that the final look is a combination of shooting styles and post production styles. In other words, photographers generally don’t just throw a “filter” or “preset” onto any photo to create the overall aesthetic. Instead, the final product is a marriage of the shooting style and the editing style as we’ll explain further below.

Light and Airy Style

Other names: Fine Art, Bright and Airy, Filmic, Soft, Romantic Wedding Photography

One of the most popular styles of wedding photography editing is Light and Airy Wedding Photography. This style utilizes natural light primarily and aims for a soft, filmic, bright aesthetic like you see in the image below.

erich mcvey photography

Image by Erich Mcvey

Dark and Moody Style

Other names: Dramatic Wedding Photography, Boho Wedding Photography

The opposite of light and airy is dark and moody photography which takes advantage of shadows to create a more contrasty look. This style has become popular in recent years as it can add a lot of drama and visual interest to wedding photos. Check out the examples below.

jay cassario twisted oak photography Jay Cassario environmental portraits x

Image by Jay Cassario


Other names: Warm Wedding Photography, Colorful Wedding Photography, Vibrant Wedding Photography

Another popular style is the contemporary or modern style of wedding photography. This style is characterized by its vibrant, colorful look. The goal of this style is often to achieve realistic, true-to-life colors but with a little bit of pop. Check out the example below.

lin jirsa vibrant wedding photography hawaii

Image by Lin and Jirsa

A slight variation of contemporary/modern is the more high contrast/punch style of wedding photography is characterized by vivid colors and a bump in contrast. Imagine the contemporary/modern style mentioned above but with the colors turned up. See the example below:

renaissance banquet wedding lin and jirsa photography

Image by Lin and Jirsa

Other useful Term and Characteristics

Here are a few other terms you’ll find when researching wedding photography styles.  We don’t necessarily consider these wedding photography styles but rather characteristics or types of photos that you’ll find within the styles of wedding photography.

Black and White Wedding Photography

In a sea of color among the sensory overdrive that is known as modern life, black and white photography provides a new perspective that is welcomed with open arms. Stripped of its hues, the simplicity of a good black and white commands the viewer to slow down and savor the capture.  Turning an image black and white can add to the overall beauty of a photo.  This is especially true if there are distracting colors in the scene.  Photographers have many different reasons for turning a photo black and white.
sacha miller South Wales Wedding Photographer Cardiff

Image by Sacha Miller

Landscape or Environmental Portraits

Environmental portraits are images that feature stunning landscapes as well as the wedding couple, such as the photo below.

dave moss abby plus dave wedding photography

Image by Dave Moss

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