The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Wedding Photographer

blurry, soft focus, black and white photo of lgbtq lesbian two brides walking away from their ceremony spot at camp hale

I think this goes without saying, but wedding photography has evolved over the years. Especially compared to your parents wedding in the 80s or 90s. And as wedding photography has evolved, so have the wedding photography styles and wedding photographers.

To me, wedding photography styles include photographic approach (style), editing/aesthetic, and trends. Each photographer has a different artistic approach, and potentially they are using a mix of many of these styles. That’s what I do. To determine what you think my style is, head to my portfolio and tell me what you think in the comments below!

If you’re here, you likely need a little clarity on wedding photography styles because you’re in the search of the perfect wedding photographer for you (more on that later).

So let’s get into it: some of the most sought-after wedding photography styles, each offering a unique perspective and aesthetic.

Visual Editing & Aesthetic

I define a wedding photographer’s style by their visual aesthetic first. It’s the most obvious. This includes the use of composition, lighting, color, tones, and mood. Some photographers may prefer clean and minimalist compositions, while others may favor more dramatic or whimsical styles.

True to Color

The goal for true to color is to capture images that accurately represent the true colors of the scene. Photographers who edit this way strive to capture the true hues, tones, and saturation levels of skin tones, objects, fabrics, and surroundings. This results in images that look natural and true to the original scene.

I would define true to color wedding photography as preserving the authenticity and natural beauty of the images. Photographers may perform basic adjustments, but they avoid heavy-handed editing techniques that alter the colors or overall look of the photographs.

Light & Airy

Light and airy wedding photography aims to capture the emotion and romance of the wedding day. The images often incorporate a soft focus and whimsical atmosphere to enhance the romantic mood of the images. Photographers may use shallow depth of field to create a soft, blurred background, drawing attention to the main subject and adding a sense of depth and intimacy to the scene.

Photographers use editing techniques such as exposure adjustments, softening effects, and subtle retouching to enhance the brightness, softness, and overall aesthetic of the images. The editing style is often understated and natural, with a focus on recreating a soft film inspired look.

Overall, light and airy wedding photography is known for its soft, romantic, and timeless quality. It creates a sense of warmth, joy, and serenity, capturing the beauty and emotion of the wedding day in a dreamy and ethereal way.


Vintage wedding photography is a style that draws inspiration from the past, evoking a sense of nostalgia and romance. My friend Kisa Conrad‘s style reflects this. It often incorporates elements from different historical periods to create a really vibey look. Soft, warm tones or a faded appearance are typically the look of this overall aesthetic.

Photographers using this style may use color grading techniques or film-inspired effects such as grain, vignetting, and light leaks to achieve a vintage color palette. This type of style celebrates the beauty of the past while capturing the love and joy of the present moment.

Dark & Moody

Characterized by its dramatic and atmospheric aesthetic, dark and moody wedding photography styles emphasize deep shadows, rich contrast, and intense emotions to create images that are evocative, cinematic, and emotional. My friend Rachel Beckwith embodies this style.

In dark and moody wedding photography, the focus is often on the emotions and connections between the couple rather than on elaborate details or decor. Photographers may use minimalistic compositions and selective focus to isolate the main subjects and create a sense of intimacy and focus.

The tones are typically deep and velvety. And the photographer adjusts the colors through post-processing techniques to create a sense of depth and drama.

Overall, this style creates images that are cinematic and emotional, capturing the depth and complexity of human emotions and relationships.

Stylistic Approach

I’m referring to the techniques and equipment that a photographer uses when I talk about stylistic approach. Factors like camera settings, lenses, filters, artificial lighting, and post-processing techniques influence the characteristics of their images. For example, a photographer who prefers shooting with prime lenses and natural light may have a different stylistic approach than one who uses wide-angle lenses and and on camera flash.

Traditional Wedding Photography Style

With a structured and formal approach, traditional wedding photography focuses on capturing posed portraits of the couple, family, and guests. This approach provides guidance and/or prompts on positioning and expressions.

The purpose of this style is to capture key moments, keep it timeless, and shoot with clarity. Legacy is the real star of the show here. Formal portraits that will adorn your grandparents mantel? Yes, this is the vibe-ish. At heart, this type of wedding photography style is straightforward and no-nonsense. The images are clear, well-composed, and evenly lit, with an emphasis on capturing everyone looking their best.

When is this style typically used?

I use this wedding photography style for formal portraits like family and wedding party photographs, in addition to formal ceremony events. This type of photography also happens during couples portraits when couples look to the photographer for direction and guidance.

Documentary Wedding Photography Style

Or photojournalistic. Or candid. Whatever you decide to call it, this documentary wedding photography style captures the raw, unscripted moments of the wedding day. It involves capturing real-life moments and events as they naturally unfold, without staging or manipulation. This means photographers aren’t asking people to “re-do” a scenario. The focus of the art is on the beauty of life itself and not staging photos for the gallery. The goal of this style is to tell a story through candid and honest images that reflect the realities of the subject matter.

When is this style typically used?

I would argue that a select amount of wedding photographers are purely photojournalistic. Again, because many people like a mix, I find this to be particularly evident when real, unscripted events are happening and no one is looking to the photographer to direct the time frame. This can, but does not always happen during getting ready moments. I always get the best candids during the ceremony, reception, and cocktail hour.

Editorial Wedding Photography Style

Inspired by fashion editorial shoots, editorial wedding photography emphasizes style, glamour, and sophistication. Photographers in this style pay attention to every detail, from the couple’s attire to the overall wedding design and aesthetic. The goal is to create images that look like they belong in a high-end magazine spread. Editorial wedding photography often involves posed shots with an editorial flair, showcasing the couple in elegant and romantic settings.

When is this style typically used?

I see this style often being used at the luxury level, when flatlay images for invitation suites are important to keep the storyline cohesive. This can also be used in any capacity where detail images are present.

Fine Art Wedding Photography Style

Fine art photography is a mix of styles, genres, and approaches. It includes landscape, portrait, still life, abstract, and conceptual photography. Fine art wedding photography is characterized by its creative and artistic approach. Photographers in this style often use unique compositions, lighting techniques, and post-processing to create visually stunning images. The focus is on creating images that are not just documentation but pieces of art. The focus is on capturing the emotion, beauty, and intimacy of the wedding day in a visually compelling way.

When is this style typically used?

I think this style was made up by wedding photographers, honestly. And who knows, maybe I’m wrong, but I tend to think that because our jobs blend all these styles into one shoot or event, this was the artistic name someone chose and then it caught on.

Wedding Photography Styles Conclusion

I truly tend to think most wedding photographer blend their stylistic approach to use and combine a few of the different wedding photography styles based on the needs and wants of the day and client. So another way to differentiate the type of style of photography you like it based on the editing, which I share more about below. Editing styles tend to be the type of styles people tend to recognize first, so let’s dive into that.

So, how do you choose the perfect Wedding Photographer for you?

Since you’re looking here for guidance, I would search for your perfect wedding photographer in the following order:

  1. Visual Editing. Start with the overall look.
  2. Stylistic approach. Then try to see how they approach the day based on full galleries (ask for a few).
  3. Personality. I’d start with contacting the photographer. Start by noticing email response times, planner recommendations, and then hop on a call.

The right wedding photography style is a deeply personal decision that should reflect the couple’s personalities, preferences, and vision for their special day. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of traditional photography, the candid moments captured by a documentary approach, or the artistic flair of fine art photography, there’s a style to suit every couple’s unique love story. By understanding the different photography styles available, couples can find the perfect photographer for them.

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