What are wedding photography styles and which one suits your needs best?

cropped examples of traditional wedding photography style, wedding photojournalism and lifestyle wedding photography

what are common wedding photography styles and which one suits your needs best?

First thing wedding couples will look into when starting their search for wedding photographer, is wedding photography style photographer is photographing. Each of those wedding photography styles has their advantages and disadvantages.
In this page I will briefly go over few most common wedding photography styles and look into their pros and cons. Each wedding photography style I will try to match with images form my previous weddings. Hopefully, an article below will give you better idea about different styles of wedding photography that are out there. And hopefully, it will help you decide which wedding photography style suits your needs best.



Classic/ Traditional wedding photography style

“Sally, look at what daddy’s has in his hands! Smi-iiiiii-ile”. “Adrian, stop picking your nose! Look at the camera!”. Does this sound familiar? It probably does. If no, think grandma and grandpa album: people in photographs looking directly into camera.

Old days wedding pictures have one thing in common- they all were shot on 35mm or 120mm film. And shooting on film biggest disadvantage was that you couldn’t see the result right away. Which is why people played it safe. So photographer was orchestrating big chunk of the day, was pausing people, was moving them around to make sure images couple and their wedding guests will receive are not blurry, properly exposed and everybody in them looks happy. Playing it safe, you know.

Besides being very posy and unnatural, traditional/ classic wedding photography also embodies very predictable angles for a certain section of the day. I’m talking about lots of posed pictures. I’m talking about predictable moments (first kiss, walking down the isle, first dance) photographed in exact same fashion and angle for each wedding. Again, those are safe shots, they worked well for many clients before, so they should work for you as well.

And even though majority of wedding photographers shoot digital these days, when you look around on internet, there’s definitely no shortage of very traditional and classic wedding photography approach.

While I still see value in traditional family pictures and wedding portraits, I’m a strong believer that these pictures shouldn’t dominate your wedding day. Please see my FAQ page for more details about it and my philosophy behind it.


  • Same looking image from the same angle worked for 50 clients before, so there’s a big probability that it will work for you as well
  • Very much predictable outcome
  • Your mom will be very happy to see those images


  • Traditional wedding images will often lack individuality
  • Posed portraits most often will look unnatural
  • Even though some posed images will look natural, you’ll still have memories of photographer’s presence and disrupted moments

Examples for traditional wedding photography style. © Paulius Musteikis


Lifestyle wedding photography style

This wedding photography style is a combination of setting the scene first and waiting for candid moments happen afterwards. Because of the candid element, wedding images have more natural look. Normally, wedding photographer will provide their subjects with details and directions on where to stand and what to do. Wedding portraits often won’t be signaling any photographer’s presence, because normally there’s no direct eye contact with the camera. Additionally, non-perfect elements could be added, so the images have more realistic and “down to the ground” feel.


  • More approachable and relaxed feel than classic/ traditional wedding photography
  • Controlled environment is easier to work in


  • Even though images look more natural and relaxed, subjects still will have memories of photographer’s presence, directions and disrupted intimate/ private wedding day moments.

Lifestyle wedding photography examples. © Paulius Musteikis


Photojournalism/documentary wedding photographer

Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism that employs images in order to tell a story. Documentary photography is a form of photography used to chronicle significant and historical events. It follows a single topic or story in-depth over time.

Wedding photojournalist will present your wedding day way the way it happened, without altering or fabricating real events.


  • Images will have most authentic look and have more feeling in them because all emotions in images are real
  • People are experiencing real wedding day moments that are not disrupted by photographer’s directions


  • No control of the events unfolding throughout the day
  • Due to constantly moving parts the image outcome is less predictable
  • Certain elements in the pictures might look unflattering

wedding guests drinking from shot ski during family farm wedding reception in Middletown, Wisconsinbride is laughing awhile groom is kissing her after their UW Arboretum wedding ceremony

Documentary wedding photography style examples. © Paulius Musteikis


Wedding photography styles I’ve talked about above are just few most common ones. Other wedding photography styles that are driven by high fashion, fine art, portraiture, natural light, etc.

In real world wedding photographer rarely sticks just to one style. Often, throughout the wedding day, elements from other wedding photography styles will get mixed in. For example, even if you hired documentary wedding photographer, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any traditional wedding pictures. Most likely, your documentary wedding photographer will set 30-60 minutes aside, for traditional posed family and wedding couple pictures.

Once you find wedding photographer whose pictures you resonate with, study his work. How do images feel? Do you see a pattern? Candid pictures? Pictures of details? Who’s dominating the pictures: bride and groom, family?

Do you see a lots of candid moments, real raw emotions, images feel non staged? You probably looking at documentary wedding photographer‘s work.

Does bride looks like she just stepped out of the Vogue cover? Are you noticing dramatic lighting? Does photographer puts accent on jewelry and and clothing? You might probably dealing high fashion wedding photographer.

Seeing lots of family and bride and groom portraits? Along with shoes, dress or flower bouquet wedding pictures?  Traditional or lifestyle photographer most likely would work for you best. Printing a list of “must-have-wedding day pictures” and handing it to your wedding photographer might be a good idea as well.

Figure out what style you are looking for before you reach out to photographer for availability and interview. This will save you and photographer time.

For more common questions Madison Wisconsin wedding photographers get asked a lot, please visit my FAQ page.