Let’s face it photographers are the Rock Stars of the wedding industry! Without them all the hours of work that went into your wedding day, your partners face as you walked down the aisle and all the other little moments in between would be archived to the memory banks for ever.
If you have a small wedding or an elopement it can be very important to have those physical images and memories to share with the people you love that weren’t there. So choosing the right photographer for you as a couple is a pretty big deal.
Because it’s a big deal and because wedding people can sometimes talk their own language I have asked my friend Katie from Summertown Pictures to explain to us what styles of photography there are out there.
Less mystery, more knowledge and generally more love all round. Enjoy the read. x
What Katie has to say:
So you’re looking for a photographer to document your wedding. You’ve been told by your mother that your uncle has been putting up some excellent family photos on Facebook and that you should consider him for your wedding, especially because it would be free. But you don’t like that every photo is quite posed.Your best friend recommends her wedding photographer, but you’re battling to make sense of the shot in front of a two perfectly placed firetrucks. You look on pinterest and you see a photo that you like where a bride and her bridesmaids are are having a giggle together. How do you make sense of all these different styles and how do you find the right photographer? Well let me explain a little bit about some dominant styles you will find out there, and when you have decided which you prefer, you can begin to narrow down your search.
The Traditional Photographer:
This kind of photographer is quite particular about lighting each scenario appropriately, often using flash or additional lighting, making sure the subject is positioned correctly within the surroundings. Usually they will have done all the formal training to do with photography, and will most probably have worked with or at least trained using film. Traditional photographers will most often take great care with the photos of the key moments eg. individual shots of the bride before the ceremony, the signing of the register at the ceremony, family and group shots after the ceremony etc. Each photo is planned, set up, and posed perfectly. Less emphasis is placed on natural, unposed moments, instead traditional photographers act as a kind of creative director. This kind of photographer will mostly distribute a very specific collection of photos, and you will never have to worry that the photos will be out of focus or incorrectly exposed. Bear in mind that getting these perfect photos requires quite a bit of time to set up, and so you may find that things like your couple shoot could take up to 2 hours.
The Photojournalist / Reportage / Documentary Photographer:
A photojournalistic style is the antithesis of a traditional photographer. Rather than directing the action, the photojournalist will adopt a much more surreptitious approach, watching and waiting for the more candid moments that happen when the guests and the couple think they are not being watched. They will let the events unfold naturally and present the photos as a kind of story for the day. Couple shots tend to be natural and unposed, “caught in the moment”. Reportage photographers tend to use less artificial light and rely more on natural light, depending on the circumstances.
This sort of photographer to me is one that stands out and has a very specific style that is quite distinctive from his/her contemporaries. Often they will have done some editorial work or had a grounding in fine art, and they are most definitely a wizz on photo editing software. There is an element of traditionalism in that the shots are planned and set up, but the shots tend to be epic pieces of art that you might see in a gallery. Much emphasis is placed on composition and colour, and the subject of the scene is carefully directed. These photographers are style pioneers, streaks ahead of the average photographer, and may overshadow the personality of the couple coming through in the wedding day itself.
The Contemporary Photographer:
This is a little difficult to define, but I’d say it is a combination of a photojournalist approach and artistic approach. Contemporary photographers recognise the need for some poses and set ups, but they will also place much emphasis on candid moments. Usually they keep up with trends and will usually look for moments where they can be more creative and do quick set ups for more artistic shots. They will usually use what light and scenery there is to create visually strong, epic images. This sort of photographer might have a few elements about their work that make them slightly distinctive but very often weddings will be less distinctive of the photographers style, and more truthfully representative of the couple’s personality coming out in the wedding.
That said, no photographer really falls neatly into these each of these categories! Most often photographers will adopt various percentages of each. Some photographers don’t even fit into these categories at all, and in fact resent being pigeon-holed into any of these boxes. The best bit of advice I could offer all you busy brides and grooms out there is, after you have gone through their online portfolios and figured out what style they might predominantly employ, to actually meet with photographers before you book them. You will be spending a lot of time with them on the day, so it is important you like them and click with them as a person, as well as liking their style of shooting. That way you’ll be way more comfortable and relaxed on the day, confident that you will end up with with images you will be happy with. Couple shoots also really help to make sure you like they way you work together.
Hopefully this explanation (which is by no means exhaustive and in truth quite stereotyped) helps you to at least know what you would or would not like to see in your images. Good luck 😉