Decoding Wedding Photography Lingo, Part i: Shooting Styles

02 | 18 | 2009

Wedding photography has too much lingo for its own good.  And to make things more complicated, the lingo is changing constantly.  I think it’s unwise to get obsessed with the lingo, but I’m offering this little primer for the uninitiated.

Shooting Styles.

  1. Photojournalistic, documentary, reportage. These words describe photographs that create a record, the official story, a factual representation.  Photographers who herald these styles tend to prefer photographs that capture the actual real moments of your wedding day as they unfold. Kitty and Craig from Twin Lens Images and Josef Isayo are some of the best photojournalists out there, and all come from newspaper backgrounds.
  2. Editorial.  Editorial style describes photographs that a magazine editor, say, might publish.  Magazine editors love photographs that glorify details and show off fashion.  (This is because people buy magazines so they can get ideas for buying other things).  Editorial photography is actually a relatively conservative shooting style. Elizabeth Messina, Liz Banfield, Jose Villa, and Jon Canlas are well-known and wonderful photographers who shoot in an editorial style.
  3. Fine Art.  Like anything else describing itself as fine art, fine art wedding photography is hard to pin down. In my experience, photographers who describe their work as fine art like creating images that work as singular, glorious images. They might use unique cameras or alternative printing processes to create those images.  Lara Porzak is an extraordinary example of a fine art wedding photographer.
  4. Commercial, Faux-Fashion.  This style mimics the poses and bold compositions of fashion and advertising photography.  Because of how much effort goes into contriving the images here,  it’s hard to imagine sustaining this style throughout a wedding.  Some photographers may move into this sort of style for portraits.  I don’t think “faux-fashion” is really enough of a buzz word that photographers would market their styles as such.  But lots of photographers do shoot in this style.

I don’t want to be totally cynical about these (words), but largely, these named shooting styles are fads that come and go—and the words are tossed around for marketing.  So just because a photographer identifies with—or claims to identify with—a certain shooting style does not mean that all their photographs can be described by that style.  And marketing aside, photographing a wedding covers so many types and “styles” of shooting—journalistic photographs of everything happening, editorial details shots, portraits of beauty and fashion.  It is much more important for a client to connect with a photographer’s personal (unnamed) aesthetic, her personal style, the way her photographs, as a group look like they came from one artist.

Check back later for photographs that illustrate these styles … and for album and contract jargon!

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