Wedding Photography Glossary: Common Terms and Wedding Photography Styles Explained

If you're not sure what style of wedding photography you like best, this handy article helps to explain the different jargon and styles on offer

Reportage Photography

Wedding photography is so important, creating a lasting record and memento of your very special day.


However, when you research wedding photography online or first contact your potential photographer, the terminology used can be baffling!

Our glossary of common wedding photography terms and explanations of wedding photography styles is essential for anyone starting their search for the perfect photographer. Take your time finding the right one and bear in mind that this is an area your investment will really pay off.

From reportage to second shooters, here are the wedding photography styles and jargon you need to know.

We spoke exclusively to Silverton Photography, where photographer and author Will talked us through some of the most common photographic terms.

Black and White Photography

Just like the name suggests, this is photography with no colour, done to achieve a classic and timeless effect. Normally the photos will be taken in colour by the photographer and edited in post-production so you have both options.

Photographer Will of Silverton Photography explains: “Black and white photography is great for enhancing the mood of an image, or bringing particular interest to the use of light and composition. Truly timeless, black and white is a better choice for mixed or poor lighting conditions and it can be less distracting, making the happy couple the absolute focus of the shot.”


Colour Photography

Brings your photos to life and is at its best for vibrant spring and summer weddings with lots of natural light and bright colour schemes.

Will says: “Colour brings an extra element to light and shape. If used correctly it can be a tool for isolating or bringing a particular subject into focus. Colour images can grab your attention, speaking volumes whether the colour on your wedding day is subtle or shouting, vibrant or saturated.”


Aged/Sepia-toned Photography

A choice made popular by image apps like Instagram, this retro effect is added after your photographs have been taken, making them look old and timeless.

Will says: “This technique can be used to give a photo a vintage or styled look — and if used well it can improve the look of out of focus elements in an image.”

Reportage Photography

Natural-looking, non-posed photography that follows the day as it unfolds.

Will says: “This is a style more suited to those who don’t like posing endlessly for the camera. Reportage can capture moments as they happen in a style that leaves couples to enjoy their day and still receive amazing images, often more pleasing as the expressions are natural and real.”


Photojournalistic Style

Telling the story of your unique day, these photographs capture the atmosphere and often focus on the emotion of your wedding, as well as the finer details of the day.

Will says: “A good photograph will usually create a reaction of some kind when you look at it — photojournalistic style aims to connect the photographer directly to the viewer, so it is important that a couple understands and appreciates that.”

Formal/Traditional Photography

The most common type of wedding photography, your photographer will capture the key points of the day — like signing the register and cutting the cake — as well as taking staged/directed shots of you and your guests.

Will says: “Wedding Photography has changed so much over the last 50 years, but formal photographs still have their place. As well as being the best way to present the important guests in their best dress, it’s also a great opportunity to get lasting pictures of family and friends together.”

Portrait of happy newlywed bride and groom standing with wedding guests while cutting wedding cake during reception. Horizontal shot.

Image: Getty


Portraits are close up or full length photos that focus on one person, or the happy couple.

Will says: “Portraits are often the images that end up on the wall. At a wedding, a brief portrait session is a chance for the bride and groom to escape the wedding party and the photographer can capture their first real moments of marriage. The couple can relax whilst the photographer has a little more time to consider and control the background and composition.”



A fashionable option, this is where a selected part of the image is kept in colour and the rest is converted to monochrome.

Will says: “This can make an interesting image for subjects with a universally identifiable colour — like a bouquet of bright red roses. It can be very easy, though, to end up with an image that looks dated and mediocre.”


The way a photographer uses artificial or natural light to create different moods or make sure the subjects can be seen clearly in the photograph

Will says: “Photography is a science in the use of light, whether from a natural source like the sun, ambient indoor lights or artificially added to a scene via a flash or studio strobe. A wedding photographer will work solely with the available light during some parts of the day, like the wedding ceremony, but may use flashguns or strobes at certain points to add a creative edge, like mimicking sunlight or creating a deep blue sky. A good photographer knows how to use light for whatever the situation requires.”


Retouching and Editing

As well as processing images for correcting or enhancing colour and exposure, a photographer can now add their own style, or give the photos a creative look that the bride and groom has requested, using digital retouching and editing tools.

Will says: “Image editing is now more important than ever. In the days of film, professional labs dealt with the processing of negatives, with only a few who took their work seriously enough to develop in their own lab. Modern technology has put this process directly in the hands of those creating the images. It means that the photographer has more direct creative control — but also the added responsibility to get it right.”


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Images courtesy of Silverton Photography: