In your search for the right photographer, you may have come across photographers referring to their "style". Many photographers, myself included, highly recommend clients review their style prior to booking. But why?
If you're looking to book a professional photographer, you probably realize that taking beautiful, high-quality photos is about a lot more than knowing how to work a camera. What happens with the camera and its settings at the session is absolutely important, but so is the entire process that goes into editing your photos after the session. The choices your photographer makes at the session in terms of camera settings, angle of the sun, background, and even time of day play a large factor into how your final photos turn out. This combined with the photographer's specific editing choices combine to create their "style".
Here are a few common editing styles you might see, and what makes these styles distinct from others.
Light & Airy
This is my style of choice - and I like to add "with pop" because my particular style of light and airy has a bit more contrast than many light and airy photographers. The light and airy style is characterized by bright light, open spaces, blown out skies (or skies lighter in color), and a soft, editorial look. Light and airy photographers try to avoid dark backgrounds and keep lots of space between the subject(s) and the background. We are often looking for places where lots of sky is visible. We usually recommend clients where light and/or neutral colors because these outfits match our shooting and editing style very well!
Dark & Moody
This style is characterized by a lower, light, dimmer editing style - the photographer will probably keep exposure low or turn it down when editing. They will also probably look for backgrounds like thicker trees/woods and buildings. Subjects might be placed closer to the background to avoid as much light being present. Editing may have more contrast. A cloudy day may be more desirable to a dark and moody photographer! Clients will likely be encouraged to choose darker colored outfits to match this style.
Bright & Colorful
Photographers with this style love, you guessed it, lots of color! They will be looking for background options that let in lots of light, but also seeking more bold colors as opposed to pastels. Their editing will probably be very vibrant, bold, and perhaps with a lot of contrast. These photographers may encourage clients to wear bright, bold colors!
True to Life
Photographers who use these words to describe their style are trying to mimic what the eye sees as accurately as possible. Their selection of background at your location may vary greatly depending on their own preference, but when they edit, they will want the photos to look as "natural" as possible, without a lot of added contrast or exposure. Outfit choices may not affect the final outcome as much with this particular style.
Something important to remember
Even with these style generalizations, every photographer has their own unique twist on their style! And this is only a small sampling of some popular styles out there right now.
So how do I choose a photographer?
It's important to choose a photographer whose style you connect with! Take a look at the portfolios (websites or instagram) or many different photographers. What photos make you go "ooooooh!" the most? Pay attention to the lighting, what the people in the photos are wearing, what the backgrounds look like. Paying attention to WHY you love a photographer's photos can really help guide you to the right person. Maybe you like the editing choices of one photographer, but not the backgrounds most of their subjects appear in. Maybe you love the way clients are dressed in a photographer's photos, but their editing style is too _________ for your liking. Find someone that matches everything you love!
What not to do!
It's not a good idea to book a photographer and ask them to edit your photos differently than what you see in their portfolio. Professional photographers spend a lot of time and money training and practicing to develop their unique style, and when we sit down to edit, tweaking the photos' settings to achieve our particular style becomes second-nature over time. Editing in a different style would require a lot more time, and honestly probably not produce the desired result in most cases. Choose a photographer whose style you like AS IT IS already, and save you both the headache of realizing later that you weren't a good fit for each other.
What to do and why it matters
- "Shop around" through many photographers' portfolios until you find someone you REALLY love!
- Check in with that photographer to find out their pricing and any other information you'd like. Do they help you decide what to wear/provide a style guide? Will they help you choose a location that fits your vision? What is their experience level? If they are out of your price range, you can either choose to save for the session anyway (I've done this and it's worth it!) or they can probably recommend photographers in your area in a style similar to their own that fit your budget.
- Listen to your photographer's suggestions on clothing and location choices! We make these recommendations for a reason - location and outfits really affect the final outcome of your photos!
- Enjoy making memories with your loved ones and let the photographer take control of the session so you can relax! You hired a professional for a reason - they know what they are doing!
Best wishes finding the photographer of your dreams! There are so many wonderful options out there who are eager to help you make beautiful memories that will last for generations!