Choosing a wedding photographer can be a difficult process especially if you don't know what to look for. With so many different photography styles to choose from, it is important to figure out what type you prefer.
Some of the names for these include the following: Photojournalism, Traditional, Documentary, Illustrative, Contemporary, Reportage, Candid, and many others. However, when shopping for a wedding photographer you cannot assume that the name fits the actual work. The only way to figure this out is to research each website and look at the photos. I will attempt to provide a very brief summary of the 4 major styles that are most prevalent:
A documentary approach to wedding photography that emphasizes candid photos with little or no posing. Also known as Reportage, Documentary or Candid wedding photography. The final wedding album should tell the story of the day in an artistic fashion. Hopefully, a true photojournalist will capture emotion, laughter and the fun present at virtually all weddings. Photojournalists will interact much less with the bride and groom throughout the day and will usually take less of the couple's time.
Traditional photographers like to call their style "timeless". Some will work off of a so-called "shot list" that the bride and groom are asked to complete before the wedding. They will use classic, romantic poses and there is more emphasis on capturing the family and friends in posed photographs. Much more interaction with the bride and groom is present and it may take more of the couple's time to complete the shoot. An excellent traditional wedding photographer should be an expert in lighting, posing and family portraits.
Illustrative photography may be one of the newer style designations, but it has been around for quite a while. It's not exactly a mixture of photojournalism and traditional photography but it does contain some elements of both. An illustrative photographer will try to shoot a wedding in a documentary fashion, but will improve the circumstances where possible. This may include choosing a great outdoor background to shoot the couple in front of, or changing the lighting indoors to improve the end result. One example of illustrative wedding photography involves the photographer asking the bride to get dressed and put on her jewelry, etc. close to an open window with natural light available. In theory, this should improve the photos, by providing complimentary lighting.
Contemporary photography is one of the more recent styles that has emerged in the last few years. The focus here is on creating high-fashion types of images. Striking poses, glamorous make-up and edgy backgrounds are all part of Contemporary wedding photography. The photographer will bring in studio lighting or maybe even backdrops to create images with impact. A very hands-on approach is taken with both the bride and groom. You will be instructed to make very deliberate poses, the types you may see in publications like Vogue. At times, you will feel like a model does during a magazine cover shoot. This style is probably not for the shy, reserved bride, though some of the best at this art would tell you that they are able to make anyone feel comfortable in front of the camera. In many cases, that is probably true, but it becomes increasingly important who you choose. This type of coverage can be just as time consuming as Traditional wedding photography, but the results can be spectacular.
The fact is, most wedding photographers probably won’t fit neatly into one of these categories. However, a very large majority of them will tell you that they incorporate all these styles into their work. Of course, the true test is the actual photos. Ask the photographer how they fit into the categories above, but most importantly, look at the work!