I think one thing all couples can agree on is that they want their wedding photos to be “timeless,” meaning they will still be appealing and in style (aside from fleeting fashion trends), five, 10 or 20 years from now. Probably the most important photography aspects for achieving this sense of timelessness—and ones I often see overlooked in wedding photography—are editing style and posing.
Of course, words like “timeless” and “stylish” are all relative. Everyone has their own definition of what is classic and enduring, and each individual couple has their own specific tastes. That said, I’ve been shooting weddings as a full-time profession for 10 years and I believe these are some of the things to consider when selecting a photographer who’ll give you photos that stand the test of time:
1. The Insta Influence
Thanks to Instagram, and to a slightly lesser extent Pinterest, photographers are constantly having to address clients’ requests for different editing styles that are common to these platforms. Some of the latest fads are the “bright and airy” look and the super dark “film look.” Over the last decade, I have seen editing styles come and go. Ten years ago “desaturated” was the new look, and then it moved to new filters and textures around 2009, and then there was the HDR movement, and so on. As these trends came and went I noticed that I didn’t want to show my older samples because I had edited my photos using those trends…and what do you know, a few years later they were out of style and dated looking. I realized that I had to stick to “timeless” editing for my photos so that my couples’ images and my samples would still look just as beautiful and have just as much of an impact 10 years later.
2. So Blown Out
Let me address the “light and airy” look first. Technically speaking, this is bad photography. What makes it bad you ask? Most of these types of images have lost all detail in the white colors of the photo. If an airy look is what you seek, you should still be able to see ALL the detail in your dress. I mean, the dress is one of the most important elements of your wedding! Trust me, five years from now you will WANT to be able to see that detail. It’s true that photographers are artists, and it’s fine to have a handful of “creative” images from your wedding that may be shot or edited differently for effect. But as a rule I would advise against having your entire wedding “blown out” as we photographers call it. While this may be in style now, I promise it won’t be five years from now.
3. Dark And Dramatic
Now onto the opposite fad happening right now: the dark, moody, film look. Again, a lot of these images would technically be considered “bad” photography, because you lose all details in the blacks shades. You should be able to see detailing in the tux, hair, shoes, etc. This is the opposite of the “light and airy” style however it carries the same consequences. Again, a few creative images styled this way can be great, but if a majority of a photographer’s images on their site have this fad edit, I would stay away. I promise, in a few years, it will be out of style.
4. Strike A Pose
Another area to consider is posing. Again, thanks to Pinterest and Instagram everyone is requesting “candid” photos, which—don’t get me wrong—I LOVE creating, and I aim for them in every shoot. However, it’s all about balance. You do need some photos where you are actually looking at the camera. This requires special skill from your wedding photographer because, believe it or not, posing is hard to learn! This is something that will set experienced photographers apart from “newbies,” and will ensure that these posed, or portrait, photos, look natural and current years or decades from now. The rule I follow is diversity. I always include a mix of looking-at-the-camera portraits and candid moments, because these have always been in style and always will be.
5. Integrity And Personality
More important than anything else, to me as a wedding photographer, is each unique couple’s personality. I like to get to know my clients, observe their relationship, and then do what makes sense for them. Now I still won’t edit a full shoot of just bright and airy or just dark film styles, and I actually lose business because of that sometimes. But I refuse. It’s just not me, or what I want for my brand or for my couples. But thanks to sticking to timelessness, I have samples of work on my site that are seven years old and samples that I shot last week, and they are consistent. And the couples that do book me, value the fact that I won’t succumb to fads and trends, and that my work stands the test of time. Most my images are the natural colors you would expect from a scene, or they are black and white. And while I may spend three hours editing and manipulating that one image to make it perfect, from looking at it, you wouldn’t be able to tell. It looks natural.
6. Your Day, Your Way
Again, I must reiterate that everything is subjective. If you think the dark film look is stylish, and it’s absolutely what you want, then God bless! That doesn’t make you wrong. These are simply some tips to think about from an industry veteran to hopefully protect today’s wedding coupes from regret about their wedding photos years down the road.