Understanding the Different Kinds of Wedding Photography
It’s no small feat trying to navigate through an ocean of wedding photography and wedding photographers in NYC and the North Jersey area. I mean, what the heck is “light & airy”, and why do some of us (both photographers and engaged couples alike) gravitate towards certain photography styles and not others?
For many of us, wedding photography marketplace is like the topping station at our favorite fro-yo place: we know what we like, and we know what we definitely don’t like. But what about that curious rainbow sprinkled, chocolate-covered gummy bear in the corner? It sounds/looks incredible – but then again, you’re not sure if you want to sacrifice 1/3 of your topping limit on something you don’t quite understand either.
But it looks irresistible, doesn’t it?
The best thing about wedding photography (or frozen yogurt toppings, for that matter) is that you can have anything you want, any way that you want, all with a proverbial cherry on top. So to help you with your search for the perfect wedding photographer, I’ve compiled a list of some terms you’ll probably want to familiarize yourself with.
“Light & Airy” vs “Dark & Moody”
Do you like your photos bright with lots of whites and pastels? Or do you like your photos with lots of dramatic color, lighting, and shadows? The end-product will have less to do with your venue, your decor, or even your mood board; it’ll all come down to how your photographer likes to shoot & edit. So how do you know if you’re looking at a “light & airy” or a “dark & moody” wedding portfolio?
“Light & Airy”
Will generally feature lots of greens, florals, pastels and brighter whites
Will generally feature more portraits and wedding details
Will generally feature generous amount of bokeh (hence, the “airy” part)…and tons of it.
Images are typically achieved with natural/available light
“Dark & Moody”
Will generally feature more shadows, deeper blacks, and an overall darker tone
Much of the image is typically in focus.
Images may involve hard sunlight or use of artificial lights
While wedding photographers can/will switch between the two genres of wedding photography throughout the course of their career, they will generally gravitate towards one style over the other. Again – there’s no right or wrong approach. If your photographer does shoot both styles however, this might be a great opportunity to let them know what you love most about their photos, and see if they can shoot more of that on your wedding day.
“Traditional” vs “Conceptual”
Traditional wedding photographs include all the photos you’ll find in many photographers’ portfolios, with some photographers executing them better than others. While shooting with this traditional approach, your photographer is doing whatever is known to work, in order to achieve a final product that is pretty much consistent with whatever they’ve done in the past. Conceptual wedding photographs will include all the photos you won’t find anywhere else. This photographer is likely trying new/unfamiliar/different things in order to achieve a final product that isn’t always guaranteed. The only thing guaranteed is that when it works, it will be one-of-a-kind, and won’t be easily reproduced by others. Here’s how you ‘em apart:
The couples are generally configured in a “prom pose”, or dipping in front of something/anything
Whole faces, bodies and limbs are typically visible in the photo
Can be found in most wedding portfolios
Can be found in any major wedding publication (Martha Stewart, Harpers Bazaar, The Knot)
Grandma’s going to love the photos
The couples are generally moving, or posed/directed in an unconventional way
Body parts are intentionally cut off, either via cropping or lighting choice
Can be found in any major wedding photography industry groups (Fearless, ISPWP, WPPI, MyWed, Rangefinder)
These images may not be grandma’s cup of tea
Just like the “Light & Airy” vs “Dark & Moody” comparison above, your photographer probably shoots a little bit of both styles – but will probably gravitate towards one style of shooting more than the other. A deep look into their portfolio will probably shed some light (pun intended) into what they love shooting most!
“Editorial” vs “Moment-Driven”
One portfolio focuses on how everything looks, with everything precisely directed, posed, and curated to perfection. The other portfolio focuses on how everything feels, and oftentimes showcases the facial and body expressions of everyone in attendance (from the kids playing in the water fountain, to grandma watching intently during the ceremony). The best way to gauge what kind of photographer you’ve got, is to take a dive into their portfolio and blog posts. What do you see most in their portfolio?
Lots of formal portraits of the couple
Lots of detail shots (flat-lays arrangements of jewelry and invitations, reception centerpieces, etc)
You’ll generally find these types of images featured in wedding blogs & publications (Martha Stewart, Harpers Bazaar, The Knot)
Photographer will be providing posing direction
Lots of candids of the couple, as well as guests
Not too many detail shots, if any at all
Because these images generally take on a photo-documentary approach, you won’t find these images anywhere else.
Photographer will provide little direction, if any at all
At the risk of sounding like I’m beating a dead horse, I’m going to tell you that your photographer probably shoots a little of both here too. But as you go through his/her portfolio, you’re going to notice a pattern in the type of images your photographer is showing most. The reason why this is important to note is because if your photographer enjoys shooting/showing it – your photographer is probably pretty decent at it.
At the end of the day, we all simply want to hire someone who’s good at what they do, amirght?
And there you have it! Hopefully with a better understanding of these wedding photography terms, you’re well on your way to finding the best photographer in the universe, one who’ll help you capture everything/everyone important to you on your special day. Again, there’s no right or wrong way to go about all of this. I mean, like I said before: some people like gummy bears on their frozen yogurt, while others like chocolate chips. Only you know what you like. So go out there and get it. No judgment – I promise :).