Wedding Photography - What's My Style?
When prospective couples begin their search for a photographer to capture their special day, there are pressures galore and it can feel a little overwhelming.
One thing blogs and magazines will tell you is to decide upon a style of photography and seek out someone who can deliver. That might seem obvious, but what does it really mean?
Unless you are really into photography in a big way or have commissioned one in the past, "style" can be a little difficult to define, not to mention articulate, to the photographers on your short list when making an enquiry.
This blog isn't intended to weigh you down with detail. Quite the opposite in fact. But I feel I should at least offer you a little insight into the buzz words and give you a flavour of what they stand for. But stay with me, because I'm going to share a little secret with you - communication is key - and it falls to me as the photographer to determine the style you are looking for. I have a few slightly quirky ways of doing this, but it can easily be done in an email or an informal chat. Even better, I'm not going to pressure you to categorise the story of your day. We can do things your way.
Anyway, back to the basics. Here's a brief description (with examples) of the different wedding photography styles. Being completely honest, photographers are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from other photographers, so you can expect this list to change year upon year, but however we badge these styles, the underlying principles are easy to grasp and aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
First up, Fine Art Photography
Typically soft, natural looking images that convey beauty. They are often associated with pastel colours and a shallow depth of field (subject being prominent with a soft focus background). These are often heavily staged and edited. Think filtered sunlight, meadow grass, sunset photos.
All of the above pretty much mean the same thing, which is capturing a story in a single frame...so waiting for those key moments (e.g. first kiss, speeches) to occur and then pressing the shutter button. Nothing is staged here. It's just a case of keeping up and making a visual record of the key moments as they unfold.
Again, this could fit into the category above, but think of it as documentary style with added emotion. Capturing tears of laughter at the best man's speech or bridal party running for cover in a rain shower. That kind of thing. All naturalistic photography; just allowing life to occur without any intervention from the photographer...almost like a "guest's-eye view".
Just as it sounds, storytelling in its purest form ignores group photos and couple portraits, the focus being on telling the story of the day through unguarded moments. This puts zero pressure on couples who perhaps feel uncomfortable posing for the camera and would rather not have to take time out of their day whilst groups of people are assembled or be asked to stand around while dresses are re-arranged, smiling on cue.
Creative and Experimental
Creative and experimental photography is a little more high risk and it's basically a photographer trying out something new, whether it be an unusual angle, framing technique, or playing with light or props such as smoke bombs. There will undoubtedly be some staging involved with these and the couples would appreciate that the desired effect might not always be possible.
So what can I offer?
Well the good news is, I will make it my mission to understand what you are looking for and I won't force you to choose! If you want a few key moments capturing and a nice shot of the two of you to frame and then be left alone, I can happily retreat into the shadows and spot and snap those special moments you might otherwise miss. I also love the capture the details.
As I said at the beginning, it's all about communication and more importantly, it's not about my style (although if pressed, I would say storytelling/candid), it's about giving my clients what they want.
So let's put the kettle on, have a chat and get to know each other a little better. That's key. None of us should put the phone down or leave the room without knowing what the other is about.