Wedding Photography Styles Explained

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Reportage wedding photography. Candid wedding photography. Alternative wedding photography. Documentary wedding photography. There are many different terms used to describe un-posed, informal wedding photography. But what do all the terms actually mean, and is there any difference? That’s precisely what we’re going to set about exploring in this blog. Will you join us?

As wedding photographers, we have our own industry speak which we appreciate doesn’t always translate well for anyone outside of our circle. But that’s not helpful to you if you are planning your wedding and looking into what type of wedding photography you’d like to capture your big day.

You may have seen wedding albums that are filled with natural, un-staged shots. If this is the style of wedding photography that you prefer, then your research may have led to you stumble upon a range of terms, and you may be wondering which is right for you.

Perhaps you have heard of the following photography terms?

  • Documentary wedding photography
  • Reportage wedding photography
  • Wedding photojournalism
  • Candid wedding photography
  • Street style wedding photography
  • Alternative wedding photography

Let’s take a closer look at what each of these terms actually means.

wedding photographer at Combermere Abbey in Cheshire

Documentary wedding photography

You’ll find the term documentary wedding photography one of the most widely used. It describes a photography style that involves taking shots in the moment, without any posing.

Of course, any wedding photographer will be expected to take a number of un-posed shots during the course of the day. For example, during the ceremony, the speeches and the first dance, where there is no natural way to interrupt and ask everyone to pose. However, a documentary wedding photographer will seek to capture natural images throughout the entire wedding day, not just during the moments when formal shots are not possible.

A documentary wedding photographer has a natural affinity for catching moments as they happen. They have a well-honed skill when it comes to adapting to the situation around them, making use of landmarks and backdrops, and capturing emotion, such as beaming smiles, happy tears and stolen kisses. Compositions will be intriguing, and will be true to the spirit of the day.

The objective of the documentary wedding photographer is to literally document the day as if creating a storybook, so that the couple can look back on their happiest moments and recall them as they actually happened, as well as see the events they may have missed.

Documentary wedding photography

Reportage wedding photography

Reportage and documentary wedding photography are two terms that are often considered as having the same meaning. And, for the purposes of achieving natural, un-staged wedding images, they are.

The difference in terminology is all down to the event that is to be captured. Where reportage photography tells a story about a single event, such as a wedding, documentary photography is officially associated with telling a story about a topic. And that really, is the only difference.

groom kissing the bride at Thornton Manor wedding photography

Candid wedding photography

Candid wedding photography is, again, a style of informal photography. It involves capturing moments without the knowledge of the subject, and really is no different to reportage or documentary photography.

Whilst all these styles are about capturing natural moments, it still takes a huge amount of skill on the part of the photographer in order to augment the reality and really bring the shots to life.

bride and groom together at Pryors Hayes Golf Club wedding photography

Wedding photo journalism

Wedding photojournalists are basically wedding photographers who specialise in the documentary, reportage or candid style. They use the title to distinguish themselves from traditional wedding photographers who focus on staged, formal shots.

Traditionally, a photojournalist is a trained journalist who communicates stories via images rather than words. In the world of wedding photography, however, they will generally be photographers who follow the natural style, and who will have been trained that way.

It is important to mention here that photojournalists are not allowed to manipulate their images, as this would be classed as misrepresentation. In the same way, documentary or reportage wedding photographers should not overly adjust the images they capture, because this would detract from the true essence of the scenes.

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Street style wedding photography

Street style wedding photography is somewhat different to documentary and reportage photography.

Whilst it’s still based on capturing real, un-posed moments, it is more of an artistic form of photography, with a contemporary feel.

It’s all about capturing people being themselves in a public setting, revealing human qualities. Whether this is eating, pausing for thought, running, riding a bicycle, reading a text message or tying a shoe lace, it’s a lot about spontaneity, humour and finding ways to highlight the relationships between people.

Street photography is very much an evolving style, and one to watch.

groomsmen enjoying post-meal cigars Peaky blinders style

Natural style wedding photography from Hervé Gillet

Hopefully, this explanation of the different styles of wedding photography and the terminology used within the industry has helped you decide which you’d prefer for your big day.

If you have in mind a wedding photo album that is more of a storybook that documents each moment of your day as it unfolded in real time, you’ll find that should you decide to engage me, Hervé Gillet, as your wedding photographer in Liverpool, Merseyside, Lancashire or Cheshire, or anywhere in the North West.

As a documentary or reportage photographer, I have extensive experience in the natural style of photography that has become so popular.

Please take some time to browse my wedding photo galleries to see for yourself how my style of wedding photography captures the true essence of the most special day of your life and, if you would like to discuss how I can create the most amazing memories for you, please do get in touch.

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