Which Style of Wedding Photography is right for you?

Austin documentary style wedding photographer

Are you feeling overwhelmed looking for your wedding photographer?

I don’t blame you – there are so many things to consider and so many options. Not only are there different editing styles and shooting styles but 1000 different pricing and package options. 

When I was looking for my wedding photographer, I had a hard time narrowing down the perfect combo of shooting style, editing style and price point. And that was even before we knew if the photographer was available on our wedding date. 

Looking for a wedding photographer can be overwhelming because it’s hard to even know what you’re looking for. There are many different styles of wedding photography out there today. 

I wanted to share the differences between different wedding photography styles and why I choose to photograph weddings the way that I do. 

Traditional or Classic Wedding Photography:

Think the kind of photos you see in your parents and grandparents photo albums. While photography has evolved with the onset of digital cameras, traditional wedding photography remains pretty similar. Traditional wedding photography is both pose and portrait heavy. Typically a photographer works from a shot list, making sure every shot on that list is perfect. Portraits are often posed and perfected, adjusting the dress or suit and each subject for the perfect shot. Often times the angles of the photos are even the same for each wedding. When booking a traditional photographer, it is easy to see exactly how your wedding day will look because it’s oftentimes just like the 50 weddings before it, which can give you extra confidence when booking a traditional wedding photographer.

Fine Art Wedding Photography:

Fire art Wedding photographers often shoot a combination of both film and digital photos. Fine art photography is often more editorial in nature. Fine art photographers pull inspiration from the dress, location and details to create pieces of art. Often time fine art wedding photography is full of detail shots and posed couples photos. The focus of fine art photography is to create art with every photo, focusing on using rings, decor and attire to create beautiful images. Often time fine art photographers have a mixture of film and digital photos – film for more of the artistic shots and digital for more traditional wedding photos. 

Documentary or Photojournalistic Wedding Photography:

Documentary or photojournalistic style wedding photography focuses on capturing the moment without the photographer’s input. Similar to journalist taking photos for a news story, a documentary style wedding photographer tries to be a fly on the wall – taking photos of what’s unfolding around them. Documentary style photography stays away from posing and perfecting images and instead focusing on capturing as many moments as possible. Documentary-style photography tries to tell a story through the eyes of the couple, their family and their guests. Documentary style wedding photography is a “reality” based approach to wedding photography – instead of making the day “picture perfect” – the wedding day is capture as it without interruption from the photographer. 

There are many other styles of wedding photography out there – but these seem to be the 3 most common styles I see today. 

Austin documentary style wedding photographer

My style is a combo of documentary and traditional wedding photography. I strive to be a fly on the wall during the wedding day, inputting my voice into the day only when asked and needed. I say my style is a combo of traditional and documentary because I still help gather and line up families for those posed family photos after the ceremony. Sometimes I have clients who don’t want any posed family photos – they simply want a time and place to be with their family members. I’ve even had a family cocktail hour before a guest cocktail hour before. 

I incorporate more the more traditional style of wedding photography into wedding days when it is requested by my couples. Usually, those couples desire more family photos or the posed wedding party photos during the getting ready portion of the day, or they want their portraits with their spouse to be more posed. I find that most couples think they need to take posed photos on their wedding day because that’s what they see on social media. After most couples learn they can do whatever they want on their wedding day, they often ask me to remain a fly on the wall until family photos or portraits.


I gauge each client and couple to find the perfect mixture for them. Wedding days are an opportunity to document a story as it unfolds around you. There is no need for me to ask you to move to the corner to put on your shoes or have you repeat it 10 times for the perfect shot, that’s fabricating the story, that’s not capturing it. 

As a wedding photographer, I strive to incorporate traditional elements into a documentary style. This allows me to capture honest moments as they unfold and add in those traditional moments during family portraits and wedding party photos. I also often take 1 or 2 posed portraits during my couples photo time because that seems to be Mom and Grandma’s favorite. 

Truly my job as a photographer is to capture the day as it unfolds, to be on a constant swivel and a witness to what’s unfolding around me. There are so many stories being told on a wedding day. As a documentary-style photographer, I strive to tell as many of those stories as I get the honor of witnessing. That may be grandma helping you with your dress or your aunt having a few too many drinks on the dance floor. Or that could be your childhood best friend seeing you for the first time in 10 years – all those moments matter and make up your wedding day. If I focused solely on a tradition wedding photography style and trying to capture a shot list – many of these stories would never be told. They would be simply missed running around trying to capture the list of photos instead. 

Austin documentary style wedding photographer

Most photographers aren’t truly one style or the other – there’s definitely a balance between different styles – and it really depends on what you’re looking for. I highly recommend asking your photographer for a few example galleries to see what their style really is. If they showcase a lot of documentary-style photos, but you look through their galleries and see only posed photos – or vice versa – you may want to ask some further questions. I promise you’re not offending a photographer by asking to see more photos – they want you to see them or at least I do! 

I want all of my clients to be 100% confident booking with me because they love my shooting style. I want them to know they have found the perfect photographer for them. All I want is my clients to be happy! 

I know choosing a wedding photographer can be an overwhelming and difficult decision. Trust me I just selected a photographer for my own wedding, and it was a very difficult decision and balance of shooting style, editing style and cost of services. I hope this helps you start to see some of the differences between the different styles of wedding photography and find the style that works best for you!

Austin documentary style wedding photographer

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