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.

11 wedding planning tips you won’t find in regular bridal magazine

simple and useful wedding planning tips: couple is laughing hard while cutting the cake

11 useful and practical wedding planning tips you won’t find in regular bridal magazine

There’s a sh*t load of wedding planning tips out there on the vast spaces of internet. And if you have never done it before (and there’s pretty big chance that you haven’t) you could go down the rabbit hole forever. As a wedding professional I often found a lot articles pretty unreliable and lacking reality (see my thoughts on how to properly interview your wedding photographer).

Below I will be sharing my thoughts will briefly answer more realistic questions:

  • How do you put together one helluva wedding party for friends and family while keeping expenses minimal?
  • How do you navigate thought the this sea of something that is completely new to you?
  • How get the most bang for your buck?

Along with somewhat unusual wedding planning tips below I will be sharing some of the images and examples from few past weddings I photographed:

Laura’s and Ryan’s Gatherings On The Ridge barn wedding
Jackie’s and James’s Wisconsin family farm wedding
Laura’s and Adrian’s Wisconsin river wedding

I hope you did find those wedding planning tips useful.


1. Accept the brutal truth: there won’t be magic bullet in wedding planning.

You will need to do your homework in order to put it all together. There probably will be some sleepless nights. But the more you will get a grip of how things work in on a wedding day in advance, the less you’ll have to worry on you wedding day. And to have stress free wedding day so you can to you can enjoy it at its fullest is your ultimate goal.

Bride’s mother is tearing up while seeing bride in her dress for the first time


2. Jump start your inspiration.

Get on Pinterest and put some inspiration boards together. And don’t get stuck with just weddings. Heck, ditch weddings and expand into other categories. Think movies, clothing, road trips, magazines for creatives, photography, identity and website design, restaurants and food, etc. See as many examples and save them to board (or do screen shots) of what things you resonate with. Try to go through as much as you can! Afterwards let it sit for a week or so. Then sift off the noise, and keep anything that is still resonating with you. This will help to put something that is unique and that represents real you best.

screen shot of Pinterest inspiration boards with wedding decorations serves as an example of wedding planning tips


3. Cash is the king.

That’s a big and tough one, isn’t it? Pay for your wedding with the money you have. Don’t go into debt that will haunt you for the next 10 years. No money? Get creative. I say this phrase a lot, but it’s really not about how much you spend- it’s about how you feel.

bride’s and groom’s hands holding cash exemplifies one of more important wedding planning tips- don’t go into debt


4. Figure out your wedding day priorities and do them right.

For Laura and Ryan wedding day priorities that would consume most of the budget were wedding venue, catering and wedding photography. Couple was really drawn to down-to-earth, sustainable, and community-minded vendors. If they wouldn’t click with a vendor, they would keep searching.

bride is hugging and laughing with the grandfather- exemplifies another important wedding planning tip- enjoy your wedding at its best


5. Delegate some tasks and get help from friends and family members.

Share you wedding day ideas with people that are close to you and see if you can outsource some of them. Make sure you put to work their individual skills. Laura’s sister helped with wedding planning. Kyle, Laura’s brother, officiated their wedding ceremony. Bobby, Laura’s dad and retired DJ, put together wedding reception playlist from Spotify. Bridesmaids put together flower bouquets. You get the idea.

parents of the bride and decorating house entrance for the DIY Wisconsin river wedding


6. Make the big decisions on you own.

Don’t fall into trap where your wedding becomes someone else vision. Friends and family usually have their ideas on what your wedding should look like. You’ll need to figure out what’s important to you and understand why. Knowing the reasons WHY you want it certain way will help you to easily explain it all to your opinionated friends/ family. Listen to what they have to say, but stay honest to yourself. This will guarantee you’re your wedding day reflects who you are 100%. This will result personal and comfortable wedding day.

bride and groom during their first dance dancing to the Florence and the Machine song Dog days are over


7. Stick to your plan.

Big percentage of couples start planning their wedding at least a year in advance. It’s a lengthy period of time. Expect to encounter many distractions on along the way. You’ll meet new people, observe new trends, get new ideas, etc. Once you have a good, solid plan, stick to it. Besides giving you peace of mind sticking to the plan will also help you not to max out your budget.

DIY wedding reception cards, signage, handmade instructions and handmade mason jar decorations


8. Get a wedding planner/coordinator if you want peace of mind.

OK. Maybe you can find this one in bridal magazine, but still: having an experienced professional planner that has training, expertise and contacts in the wedding industry, and who will help to navigate you through your wedding day, is a HUGE help. And unfortunately even when you have a wedding planner, that still doesn’t mean there’s not homework to do.

bride and groom hugging with their eyes closed and smiling in the woods near Wisconsin river


9. It’s all about a marriage, not a wedding.

This one is one of more important wedding planning tips. Your wedding day is big deal. I get it. But your wedding day is not that important when you compare it to your marriage. That thing you both will experience together for many more years to come. So really it’s not the wedding day, but after the wedding is what really matters. Keep that in mind when planning.

grooms grandfather is impersonating the groom by wearing black fake mustache


10. Start early and build it all slowly.

Overwhelmed by the amount of information, options, styles, .etc? Getting a cold feet feeling on the whole wedding planning thing? Well, you’re not the only one out there. Quite a few wedding couples I talk to recall that scary moment when they stepped into unknown land of wedding planning and realized the endless possibilities for the decisions they will have to make. Start early and build it all slowly. Figure out your wedding style, look up the venue. Pick up most recent Wedding Planner and Guide. Don’t try to juggle food, wedding photographer and DJ all the the same time. Unless, of course, you’re good at it.

Wedding planning tips and examples showing wedding venue setup and decorations


11. Take it with a grain of salt.

Your wedding dress will get dirty. Sparkly sandals won’t be nearly as comfortable as initially anticipated. DJ will get drunk. Wedding pictures outside won’t happen because of rain. Best man will get into fight at the after party. Food will get served cold. Mother of the groom will turn into momzilla. Stressed out maid of honor will get wasted.
But that’s just how life is. And that’s what makes it so damn exciting.

wedding guest on the dancefloor surrounded by smok is drinking champagne directly from the bottlee