January 24, 2024

Wedding Photography Styles Explained

If you are recently engaged (congratulations!) you’ve probably ventured into the world of wedding photography styles trying to find the perfect photographer to capture your wedding.

On its face wedding photography seems pretty straightforward. You hire someone to show up with a camera and take photos. Easy peasy, right?

Turns out that wedding photographers vary widely from one to the next. They are all different in how they approach weddings, their aesthetic, and their wedding photography styles.

Today we are going to cover everything you need to know about wedding photography styles so that you can pick the perfect wedding photographer!

Are wedding photography styles important?

Each wedding photographer shoots with their own style and artistic eye. That’s why finding the right wedding photography style for your wedding is absolutely *key* to you finding a wedding photographer that you love!

Wedding photography styles encompass the whole wedding photography process from start to finish. It includes what gear and equipment a photographer chooses to use, what images they choose to capture, how they compose and frame those images, and after the wedding it influences how they edit your final images so yeah, it’s a big deal!

What wedding photography styles are available?

Wedding photography styles, like the trends in the wedding industry, are constantly changing and shifting with new players coming on the scene (hello blurry wedding photos!).

It’s also worth noting that while most wedding photographers favor one particular style of wedding photography, they will often incorporate parts of other styles. This can be seen when an editorial wedding photographer uses heavy flash, shutter drag, and a more paparazzi style during the reception candids to capture excitement and motion. It’s not the main course, but adds a little spice.

I’m going to try to cover the most common wedding photography styles that I see out there right now – traditional wedding photography, photojournalistic or documentary wedding photography, fine art wedding photography, dark and moody wedding photography, paparazzi style wedding photography, and editorial wedding photography.

Traditional Wedding Photography

When you hear traditional your brain may go straight to your parent’s wedding album full of stuffy, stiff posed matted prints.

While the traditional wedding photography style is often associated with being outdated, that’s not necessarily the case!

The traditional wedding photography style is heavily influenced by classical art.  

Lighting is very important to traditional wedding photographers and focuses on sculpting the face of the subject.  


  • Posing in traditional wedding photography is typically static (not a lot of motion) and posed rather than candid.  
  • Traditional wedding photography focuses on only capturing the couple in poses that provide symmetry and are classically flattering.  
  • The couples will often be looking directly at the camera and smiling.

Photojournalistic or Documentary

Photojournalistic Wedding Photography, also know as wedding photojournalism, is defined by the photographer’s shooting style rather then the “look” of the images.  

A true wedding photojournalist shoots the entire wedding day in a completely candid manner, often with no posed or formal photos.  Some wedding photojournalists do a hybrid and still shoot some posed images, so be sure to ask what you an expect so that you are both on the same page.  


  • Wedding photojournalists capture the whole day – the good, the bad, all of it.  It is a complete unvarnished story of your wedding day.
  • No retouching or “we’ll photoshop it out later”
  • Limited to no posed photos of you and your family or guests
  • Works with whatever lighting and backdrops are there naturally with no alteration other than using on-camera flash.

Fine Art (or Film-Style)

While not always synonymous fine art wedding photography and film wedding photography often overlap. These two wedding photography styles focus on light, dreamy, and often abstracted images with the main focus being conveying emotion and artistic vision.

Fine art and film wedding photography has several sub-sets; wedding photographers who shoot only film cameras, those who shoot both film and digital and process them to have a film look, and those who shoot digital but process their images with film look presets.

Film wedding photography is charecterized by a light, airy images that are usually low contrast, slightly desaturated, and have vintage color shifts – especially in the green and blue tones.  This style is defined by the finished “look” and can be shot in a style that is anywhere from traditional to candid.


  • Light and airy editing style
  • Either shot using a film camera or processed to look like film
  • High emphasis on artistic vision and artistry

Dark and Moody Photography

On the opposite end of the visual spectrum you will find dark and moody wedding photography.

Photographers who use this style tend to favor images that have a lot of contrast and are purposefully shot in a way that the background is dark (versus blown out skies or an overall bright image).

Dark and Moody is a whole *vibe* and often attracts the brides who are alternative, dramatic, and edgy.


  • Dark tones throughout your images
  • Lots of shadows
  • Moody colors and subject matter

Paparazzi Style Coverage

Confession, I totally made up the term paparazzi wedding photography but I think we should make it a thing!!!

This style of wedding photography is something that has really taken off lately and focuses a lot on on-camera direct flash (often zoomed in to create a natural vignette around the image).

I also consider light trail and blurry photography to fall into this style of wedding photography.

The vibe is a little gritty and raw, but modern and fun.


  • Lots of flash photography – especially on camera direct flash
  • Looks and feels like you are being followed by your own paparazzi. Lots of candid intimate moments
  • Light trails and motion in your images
  • Dynamic feel, high contrast

Editorial Wedding Photography

The defining characteristic of editorial wedding photography is curation.

Editorial wedding photography is named that because it aims to simulate an editorial feature in a magazine or publication. The emphasis is on telling the whole story – place, people, details, events – in a way that inspires and showcases the best parts of the wedding day.

An editorial wedding photographer shoots your details, events, and portraits in a way that maximizes the good and minimizes the less than ideal elements on your wedding day.


  • Extra time scheduled for detail photos
  • A mix of posed and candid moments
  • Scene setting shots of the venue, wedding area, and each event or location
  • A large portion of your gallery will be detail focused images

What Wedding Photography Style do I use?

I choose to shoot wedding in an editorial style because I want my couples to always look their absolute best.

I know that having your photograph taken is stressful and intimidating.  When I am photographing my couples, I want them to know that their only job is to focus on each other and be in the moment.  I will take care of guiding them into beautiful poses that are natural, joyful, and genuine.

Editorial wedding photography also puts emphasis on carefully staged detail shots.

I am an unabashedly detail focused photographer!

I know that you spend hours searching for, planning, and agonizing over choosing the perfect details for youe wedding day.  That is why I always schedule at least 45-60 minutes that is dedicated entirely to creating beautiful images of your wedding day details – shoes, dress, jewelry, invitations, flowers, and decor.

Would you like to see more examples of Editorial wedding photography?

Visit my website to view my portfolio and see samples galleries from real weddings!


We will be in touch soon. 

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