When choosing your wedding photographer the best advice I could give you is to find a photographer who’s style you like. This is easy enough to judge when flicking through their portfolio but sometimes we photographers use terms like “reportage” or “fine art” and we forget that not everyone understands what that means in terms of wedding photography.
I’d like to try and help you understand the different styles photographers have so you can get a better idea what it is that you’re looking for and also give you some idea of what questions you might want to ask your potential wedding photographer.
In my opinion a photographers style is defined by two things. Firstly by how they go about taking the photographs on the day and secondly by how they edit the photographs before handing them over to you.
A PHOTOGRAPHERS STYLE ON THE DAY…
Wedding photographers can approach the wedding day in very different ways. No one way is more or less right than another however you might decide that one style fits more with what you have in mind for your wedding day. This is about the time when the word “REPORTAGE” is going to get thrown around a little. But do not fear it’s quite straight forward when you know what on earth it is we’re talking about.
Think of reportage wedding photography as being like a “fly on the wall” account of your wedding day. The photographer floats around capturing people as they naturally go about their day (your wedding day).
This style of photography is less about marching guests into specific locations to get the perfectly composed shot in front of a perfectly framed scene, it’s more about capturing the people as they are, enjoying your wedding day naturally. Guests are not having to pose and think about putting on a big fake grin for the photographer nor are they being taken away from all the action and chitter-chatter with the other guests.
A good wedding photographer will make sure he/she has got photographs of all the guests that are there so you should be presented with a selection of photographs which includes each and every one of your guests, albeit not necessarily in a line outside the front of the wedding venue.
Reportage wedding photography is a great style if you don’t want to spend too much time on the day having lots of group shots and instead you want everyone to have a great time and have pictures of them doing so.
The downside to reportage wedding photography can be that you don’t have as many of the “traditional” wedding photographs which parents and grandparents might be expecting to see. And if they’re not expecting it, it may upset one or two people when you come to show them the album.
So what is the other option…
The other style of wedding photography can by described as “CLASSIC”, “TRADITIONAL” or “STYLISED” and this approach means that the photographer is likely to be much more involved in shepherding your guests around on your big day.
As I said before there is no right and wrong way and if what you want is an album of traditional wedding photographs brimming with all the different group photographs you, your parents, you nan and you in-laws could ever need then this is the way to go.
Your record of your wedding day is important and you need to take control of how you want it to be recorded. If you want more traditional wedding photographs you need to plan the day wisely with time allocated to getting all your guests lined up for the photographs you want. Ask your wedding photographer how long you’ll need as it’s best to plan this time out in advance. The last thing you want on the day is your wedding breakfast going cold whilst the photographs are being finished off.
Your photographer will probably ask you for a list of the groups you want photographing. My advice to you is to be thorough and ask all your relatives in advance what photographs they require (you can always say no to some if the list becomes too much).
The reason I advise this is because on your wedding day when the group photos are being taken, if there’s not a list which is stuck to it becomes a free for all which can considerably take over your wedding day schedule.
If Uncle Ted decides he wants a photo with you and his sister in between two of the family shots and then Aunt Alice thinks that’s a great idea and starts gathering her mob, before you know it something in the schedule will be getting cut out or the food will be getting cold.
And there is A THIRD OPTION…
A photographer is unlikely to tell you that they just don’t do group shots or that they just don’t do reportage photos. Their style is more a guide of what they naturally prefer and what they tend to shoot more of. So there’s no harm in asking a reportage photographer if they would take 3 or 4 important group photos mixed in with their fly on the wall style pictures.
They’ll no doubt be more than happy to do so. What I would say is decide which style overall is most important to you and pick a photographer who shoots in that style, so you won’t be disappointed with the results.
I mentioned that there was a second way in which a photographer creates his or her own style and that is when they process the photographs.
A PHOTOGRAPHERS EDITING STYLE…
Now you might think that you will not be able to identify the editing style of a photographer (not being a technical photo editor yourself) but I think I can show you the different editing styles which photographers broadly use so you can articulate better what you like.
It’s quite easy to choose…
Do you prefer bold bright colours that pop, soft dreamy colours or colours that are as natural as possible?
BLACK & WHITE
Do you like bold dark edgy black and white photos or softer black and white photos?
And then you can choose a cream rather than a white…
They might try and tell a story through the image, they might use props or manipulate the scene or background of the shot so it looks like you were somewhere completely different. Some fine art wedding photographers create a fantasy fairytale style world through their images. In short you can achieve beautiful images which are something really special.
These sorts of images can take a little time to get on your wedding day and you’re likely to only get a handful of stunning beautifully edited images in the time it might take a traditional photographer to take 30 or 40.
I don’t usually shoot such images at weddings due to time constraints on the day but below are the images which I have taken which would be categorised as fine art or conceptual photography.
I do offer a package where a bride (and groom) can get dressed up again some time after the wedding and head out to a London location to get some great shots in their wedding attire before it’s lost forever in a box in the attic. On these shoots there is the luxury of time and really lovely shots can be taken which will give you some fabulous memories of your wedding, without it taking any time out of your wedding day.
I hope this post has been helpful in demystifying wedding photography styles. Don’t worry about getting bogged down with all the terms, they’re just here as a helpful explanation.
You’ll know from looking at a photographers portfolio if their style is something you like. Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer if you can see a full wedding that they have photographed as this can give you a better idea of what you can expect from them across the whole day.
If you have any questions you’d still like answering please do not hesitate to drop me an email email@example.com