Wedding Photography Part 2 : Deciding on Style

A simple google search of "photography styles" can send you spiraling in a never-ending wormhole of the philosophy of photographic elements and never-ending lists of scholarly articles attempting to define the undefinable world of aesthetics. There are hundreds of ways to describe the “styles” of photography, but here is a list to get you started on your wedding photographer search. Once you've discovered your aesthetic and have it clearly put together in your vision board, it's time to decide what style of photography you want. Learning to speak the language of photography will be important to understanding what kind of style you want for your photos. Below are five of the most common types of wedding photography to help you decide what style(s) of photos you are looking for in your future wedding photographer's portfolio:


These are the wedding photos we have all seen: the classic shots. This style of photography is a mix between posed and candid shots. Photographers who excel at this kind of photography are able to capture poses in the flow of a wedding as well as directing the bride, groom and wedding party to get classic poses some of the shots. When looking for a photographer’s ability to take traditional photos, you want to focus on their portrait and lifestyle shots in their portfolio (along with any other weddings of course!). Their focus will be on capturing those symbolic moments throughout the day.


Documentary style photos are story driven and often have a raw and organic quality to them. Where Traditional photos primary purpose is to get a series of individual shots, Documentary style photos are focused on how all of the photos are speaking together. Storytelling format may differ dramatically from photographer to photographer, which will be your primary focus when reviewing their portfolio. What story are they telling? What’s the narrative arc? Focus on looking at the narrative arc in how they have assembled their photographs from events. Documentary style photographers will have a portfolios full of events, some will focus on one or two types of events, and some will be everything from political rallies, to concerts, to arts fairs to weddings.


Fashion photographers are a great option for focusing on the extravagance of a ceremony. Their portfolios will likely include editorial and commercial shoots with professional models and actors. They have a keen eye for how to pose and direct people to get the beautiful and glamorous shots. When looking at their portfolio, you will want to be looking at their environmental shots, those taken outside a studio, and look at where your eyes are drawn. Like all photographers, Fashion photographers’ style and skills are vast and wide, but in general, their focus is on how to draw attention to specific visual items in a photograph. So, if you want to show off your wedding couture, you’ll want to go with a Fashion photographer.


Illustrative photographs in one word can be described as “constructed”. There are many debates as to what qualifies as an Illutrative photograph, but in short, this really plays to an individual photographer’s ability to construct a photograph. Sometimes this happens in post production and sometimes in real time. When looking for a photographer who is focused more on the artistic aspects, you will want to look for artistic movements: surrealism, minimalist, naturalism, romanticism, futurism, etc. Focus on the shapes, colors and movement in their photographs. Illustrative photographers are illustrators and painters using photography as their medium.

Environmental or Lifestyle

These are very close to Documentary style photography, but instead of focusing on the story, Environmental photos primarily focus on showcasing the overall emotion of space. This is a wonderful option for outdoor or destination weddings. While the people in and at the wedding will still be photographed, the photographs seek to demonstrate how the wedding itself affects the individuals. Was the ocean breeze whistful and windy? Was the sunset deep and serene? When looking at an Environmental photographer’s portfolio, keep an eye out for a travel and tourism-like quality. The overall tone of Environmental photographs are shaped by context.

Feel free to shoot us an email and check back next for next week's #WeddingWednesday where we will delve into step three of finding the perfect wedding photographer: Communication & Workflow Essentials :)


  1. Detailed information on this wedding photography style was very helpful for me as going to get married soon. We just reserved one if iconic Chicago venues for reception and now looking for a talented photographer.

    1. Congratulations! So happy you found our blog helpful. :) Which venue will be using for your reception?