What is a contemporary wedding photographer?
You’ve probably come across the phrase so let me help you understand what it means to be a contemporary wedding photographer. I partly shoot in this style (along with documentary) so here are my main thoughts on the subject.
A contemporary approach to photography is the expression of a ‘modern’ crafted photo, meaning the photographer has setup or influenced the composition and style of an image before the final shot is made. Now the same would apply to fine art wedding photography or editorial wedding photography, but I feel those styles sit under the umbrella of contemporary photography also.
The majority of wedding photographers today incorporate a degree of contemporary images into their work and many clients have some expectation of such crafted images, particularly if they imagine photos hanging on their home wall or sat on the sideboard. The true distinction of contemporary wedding shots is in how much and how far the photographer chooses to dictate and stylise the creation of such an image using lighting, posing and setting. Much like a studio shoot, the contemporary format of photography really comes down to personality, talent and how much creative opportunity is available.
Choosing a wedding photographer is often due to a love of how their signature images look, but how those images are created is easily ill-judged and may impact your wedding experience. I’m sure most people would rather be enjoying their day freely than standing around for photos, so these type of shots are really just a format used for parts of a wedding day, namely formal portraits and groups.
In my work ethos I’m mindful of interrupting any aspect of a wedding day, but appreciate the desire for flattering bride and groom images. I apply a contemporary style conservatively for bride and groom portraits and group shots when required. In a typical 10hr wedding day family formals can be completed in around 20mins and bride and groom portraits in the same ballpark, leaving scope for free-flowing coverage of the wedding day that documents all in attendance in the most authentic way.
For contemporary photos it’s beneficial to communicate with your photographer what sort of mood you envisage for the images even if you just assume your photographer will deliver the kind of photos you enjoyed in their portfolio. As wedding photographers we have to juggle many variables to create images in a live wedding environment, so styled and staged shots need experience and time to create well. It’s useful to receive a steer from clients but not specifics as wedding photography rarely has the luxury of time and full control of a live environment free from interruptions. Clients have to keep in mind that the more stylised they require their photography to be, the more time consuming it becomes to create and participate in for all parties.
In recent years, contemporary wedding photography has taken on other influences such as editorial wedding photography, fashion, fine art or even quirky styles as photographers experiment more with clients. What you should know is that these labels are there to indicate what photographers specialise in, but they will generally lean into other styles as necessary. Many key parts of the wedding day do not lend themselves to a contemporary approach, such as speeches or walking down the aisle or first dance – these would be shot as they happen in a candid fashion.
Ultimately, the only way to get a true feel for what style(s) you like is to ask your photographer about their approach to different parts of the wedding day and check-out examples of their work from real weddings in similar settings. Being a true professional wedding photographer means being capable of adhering to proclaimed styles in all conditions and circumstances.
Alongside beautiful contemporary images, documentary wedding photos are also a big part of my service. I invite you to get in touch and discuss your wedding wishes.
Here at Lovepear, what’s important for me is that you enjoy the experience as much as the photos and are delighted with the results. You may decide the documentary bits of the day are more important to you than formal group shots – or the opposite, or something else. I’ll explain to you very clearly what to expect from wedding photography and we’ll work together to realise your own bespoke coverage of the day.