The 8 Photography Styles You Need to Know

Tilt-shift? Holga? Bokeh? No, we're not speaking a foreign language—these terms actually describe some of the hottest trends in wedding photography. Consult our glossary and, if you like what you see, discuss the possibilities with your photographer

Updated 10/27/11


What it is: A series of color layers and faded washes "painted" onto the image in postproduction to highlight certain tones and de-emphasize others

Medium: Digital


Good for: Creating romantic and whimsical engagement and wedding portraits and enhancing "action" shots of dancing guests


From the photographer: "To enhance a visually interesting image in postproduction, I can sometimes spend an hour or so on a single photo, adjusting the hues to create the style and feel of the wedding or engagement session," says W. Scott Chester.


What it is: An effect created in postproduction that adds milky, washed-out tones (of red or yellow to the photograph

Medium: Digital

Good for: Getting dreamy, nostalgic-looking engagement and wedding portraits and first-dance shots (think: your great-aunt's 1960s-era wedding album)

From the photographer: "For a while, a 'vintage' wedding meant photographing engagement photos at a county fair and floral centerpieces in mason jars," says Christine Farah. "But now couples are taking a less literal approach and simply want to add warmer tones and retro colors in postproduction for a more modern interpretation of 'vintage'-looking photos."


What it is: An instant black-and-white print à la classic Polaroids (plus a negative for later production)

Medium: Film

Good for: Printing retro, grainless snapshots of intimate moments such as the first dance or candids of guests at the tables

From the photographer: "Because everyone is so used to digital photography these days, they've forgotten about Fuji instant prints," says Jonathan Canlas. "But guests love it when I bring out an instant camera at weddings—especially because they can take a print home."


What it is: A combination of postproduction effects that shift color and tone in the image to create a grainier texture, mimicking the warmth and complexity of film photography

Medium: Digital

Good for: Turning any wedding moment into a grainy, moody, artistic photo

From the photographer: "I create a 1970s-era nostalgia with this texture effect," says Noa Azoulay-Sclater of Feather Love Photography. "I'm influenced by artists from that time period, including everything from album covers to photographer William Eggleston, which my clients—often artistic types themselves—similarly relate to."


What it is: An outgrowth of architecture photography, the tilt-shift lens creates a narrow area of focus by blurring out the rest of the image

Medium: Film


Good for: Achieving a hazy, deliberately abstract look for both wide and detail shots, from wedding portraits to still lifes to ceremony overviews

From the photographer: "This technique adds a fresh perspective to your images," says Braedon Flynn. "But it needs to be done correctly, otherwise it might leave you feeling dizzy."


What it is: Multiple frames strung together in postproduction (to create the impression of video-esque movement

Medium: Digital

Good for: Sharing lighthearted moments, like engagement portraits and the first dance, on your wedding website

From the photographer: "You'll recognize animated GIFs as those old-fashioned, blinking Internet ads, but now photographers are using them as a way to be more playful with wedding imagery," (says Nate Kaiser of The Image is Found. "There's only so much you can do with a still image, so making a GIF allows you to highlight fun interactions with bursts of energy between people."


What it is: A black filter that attaches to the lens with a small heart-shaped cutout that affects out-of-focus light (called "bokeh")

Medium: Film and digital

Good for: Adding a sweet, personalized touch to night settings, with candlelight or twinkle lights in the background

From the photographer: "A lot of photo gimmicks can get old quickly, but this one is so subtle that you don't always notice it at first," says Stacy Reeves. "Not all photographers use this type of filter, so if a couple wants it for their wedding photos, they should meet (with their photographer and bring an example."


What it is: A square image with dark edges and corners and sometimes streaks of red light produced by a plastic lo-fi camera that has a cult following among fine art photographers (and hipsters)

Medium: Film

Good for: Capturing engagement and wedding portraits and shots of the vow exchange that look hip, arty—almost grungy

From the photographer: "You wouldn't shoot an entire wedding with a Holga," says Braedon Flynn. "But it's a way to achieve (a distinctly cool, old-school feel. Sometimes I put a flash on the camera at receptions to replicate that look from Marc Jacobs ads."

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