When it comes to choosing your wedding photographer there are a lot of variables. One of the most important factors to consider is the photographic style of your wedding photographer. There are a number of different styles to choose from and no style is better or worse than any other – it really depends on you and what style you prefer.
The first style is traditional which has been around for generations and is most likely the style that your parents would have been photographed in on their wedding day. Traditional wedding photography is predominantly posed and controlled by the photographer. Usually there is a list of formal photographs and the photographer will work through this list carefully arranging each one. One advantage of this style is that you know what you are getting because the photographer has a list of photographs to work through. Also, if the photographer shows you a sample album then the photographs in your album will be very similar. A disadvantage is that the resulting photographs can appear staged and contrived. Another possible downside is that the photographer could be very controlling, directing you and your guests into the poses required by the check list.
The opposite to the traditional style is documentary (also called reportage and photojournalism). This style is purely documentary where the photographer is a fly on the wall with little interaction as the day unfolds. The photography is candid and informal, relying on the photographer being in the right place at the right time. Most documentary photographers will arrange a few formal family portraits but outside of that they are capturing moments as they happen. The advantage of this style is that the photographs show natural expressions and real emotions. There is also very little control of your day – you are free to do whatever you like. The main downside is that the results are very dependent on the photographer and their reaction to events as they unfolded.
The final main style is contemporary. This style combines elements of the previous styles (e.g. using a documentary style during the ceremony and a more traditional approach for the family portraits) and adds a pinch of creativity. The resulting photographs can be dramatic and the processing of the images can be innovative. People are often encouraged to interact rather than looking at the camera for a more spontaneous feel and a combination of posed and candid photographs are used to tell the story of the day. The advantage of this style is that it takes the best bits from traditional and documentary photography and combines them with a modern twist. A downside is that the style is very vague and difficult to define, almost any photographer who is not strictly traditional or documentary could describe themselves as contemporary.
Hopefully by now you have a good idea of which style suits you best! Some people will love the idea of having traditional timeless photograph. For others the appeal of a documentary photographer who does not control the day will be strong. More will like the idea of having a contemporary photographer create something a little more modern and artistic. As I said at the beginning, there are no wrong choices – it’s a matter of taste.
Now that you know the style of wedding photographer that you would like, it should be much easier to narrow down your photographer! There are still a few things to think about before choosing your photographer (such as their personality, products, experience and so on) and I’ll give some tips on these in future articles.