December 10th 2014, Planning your Wedding Photography
My wedding photography style
It’s really important when booking a wedding photographer that you find someone whose style and approach is a good fit for you and how you want your day to be recorded. In this post I’ll be talking a little bit about my work and how my style and approach can fit into your wedding plans.
As a creative person so many factors influence you; films you’ve seen, exhibitions you’ve been to, places you’ve visited, the relationship between your subjects and even your relationship with yourself can have an impact on your creative output. You can choose to push your style in a different direction or you can choose to really hone it, and focus on consistency.
This image is as close to a single image that defines my style as it’s possible to get. Quirky, documentary, colourful, telling a story and a little bit messy and chaotic. It’s one of my favourite images that I’ve ever made.
I’d probably describe myself as a creative documentary wedding photographer but I am definetly influenced by other styles. I love artistic, editorial style portraits, for example and I also think those traditional family group shots are some of the most important pictures we’ll take all day. I especially love colourful images and joy and real, authentic moments. I don’t believe in presenting everything in a way that makes it seem perfect. I’d much rather search out authenticity.
Clear as mud, right? Well to make things a little less complicated here’s a break down of the different approaches I use over the course of a wedding day.
Creative Documentary Wedding Photography
I shoot in a documentary style 90% of the time. Documentary wedding photography is all about taking a story telling approach to photographing your wedding day. Photographing the day as it unfolds, with a focus on narrative. Everything from the moments that happen between people, to the mood.
I always say I am just as likely to photograph what you had for breakfast as I am your first kiss because, for me, all of these things come together to create the story of your wedding day. I especially love context. When people get ready at home, it really anchors their day to their real life. Everything that came before and everything that will come afterwards. I love really personal weddings for the same reason.
When I am working in a documentary style I shoot everything as it happens. From crying as you say your vows, to sweaty shape pulling on the dance floor, and laughing so hard you snort Champagne out of your nose during the speeches.
Fine Art and Editorial Wedding Photography
While I predominantly shoot in a documentary style, I also love to work with you to create some editorial style portraits. I still love these to be really authentic though, rather than posed. My focus is on you interacting with each other naturally.
An editorial approach means presenting elements of the day in a way that makes them look beautiful, rather than focussing on realism. I would rather focus on realism personally. It’s much more interesting.
Of course I still aim to take beautiful pictures of the beautiful things at your wedding, I love a sunset or a breath taking landscape as much as the next photographer, but if we can also create portraits that are interesting or that really represent you as a couple, then I’ll be a happy photographer.
My shots of details are usually editorial in style but it all depends on the couple and the feel of their wedding. I also only allocate a small amount of time for detail shots, as my couples would usually rather have more coverage of their friends and family having an awesome time.
Alternative Wedding Photography
I’m not sure about the alternative wedding photographer label. I think initially, when the term was first coined, it meant an alternative to the main stream approaches that were available at the time. It’s come to mean wedding photography for couples who are doing things a little differently and a lot of alternative wedding shooters cover quite non-traditional weddings.
For me this particular label means taking the same creative approach whether your wedding is in a castle or on the side of a mountain, and working with you to create an artistic record of your day that focusses on you as an individual.
More than anything it’s about the way I use my experience and skill to interpret you as a couple, whether you’re having a rocker wedding or getting married in a stately home, whether your heavily tattooed with blue hair or more classic in your style, whether you’re an indie kid or an opera singer. I guess it’s also about taking a different approach to things like portraits and detail shots too. Presenting things in a fresh and unique way, with a focus on the couple and the details of their day.
However non-traditional the wedding, there are always some traditional elements. My couples almost always have group shots / family formals and while they’re not the most enjoyable part of the day for anyone, they are one of the most important.
My aim with this part of the day is always to work quickly, painlessly and to get you back to your party as soon as possible. This article about stress free group shots explains my approach in a bit more detail.
We can also spend some time taking a more creative shot with your bridesmaids and ushers. As far as your family shots go though, the “everyone standing in a line looking happy” will always result in the shortest amount of time away from your drinks reception.
Contemporary Wedding Photography
While this wasn’t in my initial list, I feel this is worth a mention. Contemporary Wedding Photography often employs highly stylised portraits, utilising hard light and interesting angles and compositions. Again I do take this approach sometimes, instead of more natural portraits. Again this depends on factors like the couple, their style and my reaction to my environment on the day.
If you made it this far, well done. I think you’ll agree that my style is influenced by a lot of different factors and doesn’t neatly fit into any one box. That’s just the way I like it. I am really fortunate to work with a really diverse client base and I see the above style choices as a tool box that lets me react to my environment and create something that suits each individual couple and their personalities.
If I had to pick just one style, I’d call myself a documentary wedding photographer because that’s what I do for most of the day and I think that is the reality for most photographers today. We use a mixture of approaches and techniques to deliver a comprehensive set of images to our couples.
What do you think? Is there one style you favour over another? If you’re getting married, what style of photographer have you picked? If you’re a photographer, do you have a range of different approaches? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Check out the link to read more in my Planning Your Wedding Photography series.