Wedding Photography Styles : A Comprehensive Guide

Wedding Photography Styles : What Types Are There?

Hello again! This is another post on wedding photography and its ever-varying style. This article effectively follows on from last week’s piece on earlier wedding photographic history, which covered the origins of wedding photography in the 19th to early and mid-20th centuries. We outlined that from the mid-1800s through to the 1970s, wedding photography was largely dominated by an awkward, overly-symmetrical, stiff and restrictive style, thanks to the limitations of technology and the general lack of experience with the concept of photography as an art-form. So take a look at that first if you have stumbled across this post on its own.

These photographic styles are not definitive, mutually-exclusive categories. Many photographers may describe themselves as a mixture of all, or may have made up their own style altogether. Such is the evolutionary nature of this business.

Formal or Traditional

A relic from the history of wedding photography, the concept of formal wedding photography has changed very little from the evolution of the artform over the last two centuries. The over-symmetry, awkwardness and stiffness have mostly been done away with, but apart from that it’s just the quality and quantity of the photographs that has changed.

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This posed style of wedding photography is also known as Creative or Illustrative. This is a further evolution from formal wedding photography and contains perfectly framed photographs with an emphasis on beautiful backdrops. Sometimes the photographs resemble portraits and tend to look quite epic. They can also be presented off-camber (non-horizontal).

Reportage or Photo-journalistic

This is a comparatively recent development in photographic style that has been inspired and influenced by documentaries, and usually captures an uncontrived, natural aspect of weddings. This voyeuristic approach has arisen thanks to a desire to escape from the formalities of posed photographs. This style often employs black and white filters and relies on an unobtrusive approach, whereby the subjects are not aware of the camera’s presence.


It’s as if we’re going full circle with this style, a derivation that copies elements of early to mid-20th century photography (we tend to class 1970s-1990s as retro rather than vintage). Sepia, grainy, scratched black and white and de-saturation are effects created digitally or even by using a genuine old camera.


This is a relatively all-encompassing style that combines certain elements of the photographic genres described above. Colour-popped, Dutch-angled (slightly wonky), reportage or natural photos are mixed in with mostly artistic, and a few formal posed photographs. In this style, photographs of wedding guests are almost as important as those of the newlywed couple. Shots of the venue and grounds are also prominently featured.

Non-traditional posed photographs are also a substyle of contemporary wedding photography, and usually feature the newlywed couple in unusual poses, positions and locations.


Wedding photography now comprises a major part of the overall photographic trade, with many studio or portrait photographers offering wedding packages as an integral part of their service.

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