Does Style Really Matter?
While seeking out a wedding photographer, you may have found by now that there are a multitude of different wedding photography styles - and it can certainly be daunting.
"Can't we just find a wedding photographer who does a good job? Why does it matter?"
Well, style matters to (most) wedding photographers, because we are artists who are following our dreams. (That's why we business owners start our own businesses in the first place - to do what what we enjoy most.) And so, as with all of your wedding vendors, you should try to find a wedding photographer who's vision matches yours. If you love candid moments of laughter and tears, for example, but you hire a classic, traditional wedding photographer, you may be unpleasantly surprised when you see your photographer not capturing any real moments on your wedding day and only picking up the camera after they've set up a shot perfectly. They aren't going to capture, for example, all of those hugs between you and your bridesmaids after you've come back down the aisle from the ceremony. That's just not going to happen. (I've worked with and watched classic wedding photographers, so believe me - this is how they work.)
Point being, there is a wedding photography style for everyone, and they are not all the same. To get you started, The Knot, the Emily Post Institute, Here Comes the Guide, Junebug Weddings, Fix the Photo, WeddingWire, Lin & Jirsa, Hitcheed, and even Martha Stewart all have articles describing different wedding photography styles. It can be confusing at times, certainly, because some styles seem to blend together and overlap, like "artistic photojournalism" or "dramatic editorial," and any one of the styles could fall under "natural" depending on the scene. "Documentary" is simply another word for "photojournalistic," and, with so many "lifestyle" wedding photographers out there, why is that style left out of most lists entirely? Plus, so many wedding clients think wedding photography styles consist of "light and airy," "dark and moody" and "looks like film," etc - those are editing styles, not shooting styles, but still something to consider!
"I've never been married and have never worked with a wedding photographer before. I don't even know where to begin. How in the world can I choose between all of this?"
Well, to find out if we're the right fit, instead of using the word "style," one of the first questions I'll ask is, simply, "What are you looking for in a wedding photographer?"
If you say, "I want every photo to be perfectly set up. I don't need that many photos . . . I only want the most artistic, flawless photos for my album and gallery wall. I want my wedding photographer to use a shot list and only take the photos that are on that list," that means you're looking for a traditional, classic style. And within that classic style are the myriad of other forms - "editorial," "high fashion," "fine art," "dramatic," and "commercial," etc. I will say that if this is your answer, I'll point you in the direction of an associate of mine.
But, if you say something like, "I want a photographer who will capture the day authentically, and not force us to pose or direct us all day. . . someone who will photograph everything as it unfolds in the most artistic, natural way possible, but not miss any real moments," that means you're looking for either "photojournalism" (a.k.a. "documentary"), or "lifestyle" (a.k.a. "candid"). And these styles are right down my alley.
What is Wedding Photojournalism?
According to the Wedding Photojournalist Association, wedding photojournalists are "telling the story of a wedding, not directing it." Now, most wedding photographers will present themselves as people who want to "tell your story" - even traditional, classic wedding photographers! So, watch out for that. Also know that most wedding photographers are not wedding photojournalists. Wedding photojournalism is actually a very rare style. Other than during the formal portraits portion of your day, a wedding photojournalist is never going to direct you to pose, is not going to touch your things unless you direct them to, is not going to tell you what to do or where to go or how to stand, and is going to be as invisible as possible. A wedding photojournalist will be capturing the scene exactly as it is without inserting themselves, looking for the best angles for light, composition, and creativity to tell the true story of the moment in the most artistic way possible. If that sounds a little freaky-stalker-ish, check out this myth-busting article by the WPJA here.
Wedding photojournalism is an avant garde style, perfect for couples who care more about enjoying their day and preserving their memories than having perfectly posed wedding photography that looks like everyone else's. If you think this might be the style for you, I would love to chat with you!