Wedding Photography Styles
First of all, this is a personal observation, and as such, I’m basically asking the question : “Does anyone else relate to this?”
What, you might ask, is “this”?
I have found over the years, my enquiries for wedding photography has brought with it specific tastes with regard to wedding photography styles. The brides particularly want something “different”. I’m talking about stormy skies, rain, snow etc. etc. This is further compounded during the initial meeting, where we will discuss their expectations, and the word “different” tends to be used repeatedly. When I’ve asked is there anything they don’t particularly want, the stock answer tends to be “I don’t want it like my friend’s album.”
Now, I sometimes know who shot their friends album, and occasionally I’ve seen the images on their own social media timeline, and to be perfectly honest, they’re good images. But it’s not the standard of photography they actually mean, it’s the wedding photography styles. They often refer to “standard smiling bride and groom in the sun” as being the very epitome of everything they want to avoid. What they are after seems to be something unique to them and their venue.
Occasionally, they build a Pinterest board with beautiful images of brides and grooms lit dramatically in unusual surroundings. Some of my images tend to be present, but sometimes they have very specific ideas of their own and have images on their board that reflect this.
I had a bride some years ago getting married on the last weekend of March, and almost every email conversation would include a reference to the fact she wanted a bridal portrait in the snow. You can imagine how she felt when we didn’t have so much as a cloud in the sky on the day of her wedding, but she was upbeat and mentioned a good few times how she hoped it would snow before we left. Would you believe it did snow as the evening guests arrived, and she got her wish, and the image above is the result.
This shift in bridal photographic tastes seems to have been insidious, gathering pace over time. Now it seems every single enquiry includes questions as to whether we can recreate a particular image seen on the blog, or can we photograph something like “this”.
I realise this may come about due to the power of social media, and the fact photographers publish images to quite a wide audience, but is the publishing of images on social media now defining the type of client we are hearing from?
Do other photographers get asked for images that are relevant to their own style, or are you being asked for imagery in a style that’s doesn’t come naturally to you. Are brides and grooms becoming more savvy as to what we are capable of, or are they simply choosing a style because they like it?
In the commercial sector, we still get enquiries across the board. From “I want it on a white background”, right through to complex lighting situations out on location because the client wants something that will grab the attention of the casual web surfer and searcher. But that seems to have stayed fairly consistent. Even back in the film days, there were clients who wanted the basics, and those who would quite happily invest in eye catching imagery that would take time to craft.
Bridal portraiture on the other hand, has definitely shifted. At least in my personal experience. The lit images during the bridal portrait session part of the wedding day tends to be the first topic talked about. How many images, how long does it take, can we put forward ideas etc etc. After that it’s the usual thing such as price, how many photographers, what time do you arrive and when do you leave. I’ve not had anyone yet who hasn’t wanted the bridal portrait session, and because of the images on my website, I have always assumed I’m attracting brides and grooms with particular tastes.
More recently, and I mean over the past eighteen months or so, I’ve noticed another shift in focus with the questions I’m being asked. “Do you shoot black and white?” being a common one. Others include “Can you process like this?”, and I’m shown a Matt or Vintage style of image. I do find it interesting that nearly all processing questions tend to have an analogue look about them. Sometimes the questions are very much relevant to the style of the wedding, and thus they wish it to be reflected with a choice of wedding photography styles.
Often, it’s down to nothing more than personal taste, and I quite often find that with the request for black and white images. I don’t doubt these requests are driven by a broader awareness, caused by the use of Instagram and its filters. After all, we often see the waving of phones throughout the day at a wedding, with pictures immediately delivered to those who aren’t able to attend, or are simply nosey. But the ability to shoot and publish a vintage or black and white image to friends within seconds, must have an affect on perception and therefore desires.
For me, it means I now offer several styles of editing, which allows my client to choose exactly what they want, with examples on my site to show what they can expect. Since adding the images and option to my website, I no longer get the questions about post processing, but I rarely have a request for the “standard” edit.
Recently, I had a bride referred to me by another photographer, because he couldn’t cater for her requests regarding lit portraits, or a specific look to the finished images. It was this referral that prompted me to ask the question:
Are bridal tastes in photography changing regarding wedding photography styles?
My main wedding photography website is weddingsbymichael.co.uk
But I do have a portfolio of wedding photography mages here.