Everything you need to know about wedding photography editing styles
Now, admittedly, I don’t know much about style …
Take a look in my wardrobe and you’ll find the following: A polka dot jumpsuit, a needlecord boiler suit, a linen halterneck playsuit, denim dungarees, a koala onesie …Yep, this girl is definitely happiest when not having to coordinate clothes.
But I do know this: timeless trumps trendy.
And that’s as true of wedding photography as fashion.
So I’m at least a little qualified to talk to you about photo editing styles.
Let’s start at the start …
When you choose your wedding photographer, you’re booking their editing style as well as their photography style.
… And the two are very different.
In super simple terms: Photography style is the way you take the photo and editing style is about what you do to the photo after you’ve taken it.
And every photographer has their own approach.
So when you choose your wedding photographer, it’s important to consider their editing style as much as their photography style.
Why is this so important?
Because editing can change your wedding.
Yep. That photographer with the dark and moody ‘gram? That’s editing. So even if you have a pretty pastel spring day or a brightly coloured summer wedding, they’ll edit your photos to look dark and moody.
And that doesn’t just affect the look of your photos. It affects the mood of your day too. A dark edit feels serious – sombre, even. A light and airy edit feels calm. And a classic neutral edit feels exactly like your wedding.
Here’s one of my photos edited in different styles …
Top left is my usual classic edit and true to life. Top middle is a dark and moody edit with deep shadows and low exposure. Top right is an earthy edit with enhanced warm tones and neutralised whites/cool tones. Bottom left is a fine art edit with desaturated colours and increased exposure. And the image bottom right is cross-processed to brighten colours and bring out dark blues, especially in the shadows – look at the table top.
See what I mean?
Now, whilst your photographer’s editing style isn’t something you can choose or change, it isn’t inherent to your photographer. It can be learned. Or outsourced. But the reason behind the style is inherent. Because it’s based on values and beliefs.
Wedding photographers might believe editing is a way to:
- Stand out and differentiate themselves from other photographers
- Make their Insta-grid look consistent and cohesive
- Be like other photographers they admire
- Win awards from trade associations where heavily worked images tend to do well
Here’s what I believe…
Photography is a way to connect people …
… And the only thing people can connect to is truth.
In my own family and wedding photos, I enjoy genuine colours and natural contrast. I can relate to that. It gives me a real feeling for people – past and present. And it allows me to experience the nostalgia of things as they were.
So the role of editing shouldn’t be to turn your wedding into something it wasn’t. It should be to replicate how your wedding looked and felt. Anything else is about the photographer, not you.
So I think a classic edit is best.
Yes, it’s tempting to pick a popular editing style. (I mean, I love the desaturated greens thing other wedding photographers are doing. But it’s a fad.)
Ultimately though, wedding photography is for the long-haul.
The photos I create will last longer than I do. Much longer. They go on the walls in people’s homes and get passed down through generations. (As long as you print them!)
So whilst other photographers desaturate the grass, make white dresses look dirty, and give people weird coloured skin … I’ll continue to put longevity first and show how unique you and your wedding are.
But that’s not to say I don’t do anything to your photos …
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Because the unedited photos (straight-out-of-camera, or SOOC, as us photographers call it) are, quite frankly, lifeless. So editing is a big part of my service.
But I don’t do so much that you can tell a photo has been changed. It’s just enough to bring the photos back to what you experienced on the day.
Fly the flag for the future
Now, I get it. It’s not easy to see trends for what they are until years down the line.
So if you’re looking for a wedding photographer now, check out their ‘Gram.
Do all the grid photos have a consistent look and feel? They’re probably edited to look the same. Or are they a hotch-potch of colours, brightness and tones? They’re most likely true to those weddings.
But all you have to do is ask them. I guarantee any wedding photographer wants you to know what their style is. Because it can’t be changed. So it’s better to know before you book than for you both to get a nasty surprise when your photos don’t look the way you imagined.
And remember, your wedding will be amazing. There’s no need to add or change anything. Do future you – and future generations a favour – and own it. Let your day speak for itself.
As always, there’s no right or wrong. Just do what’s right for you. Even if that’s a koala onesie.