Styled Shoots vs. Real Wedding Photos

Many people dream of their wedding day. They imagine the dress, the suits, the venue, the guests, and all the aesthetic aspects of what will make the day one to remember. There are countless wedding magazines to flip through and take inspiration from. Who doesn’t want it perfect, of course? Capturing those special moments and seeing their faces light up when they see the photos from their day is something I adore about my job. How lucky am I?


Photos from Real Weddings


I am so honored everytime a couple chooses Fly Free Photography to capture their wedding day. We are incredibly passionate about the work we do. Choosing your wedding photographer is a BIG decision, and today, we want to share a little insight on the difference between styled shoots and real wedding photos so that when you ARE ready to hire your dream photographer, you know what to expect on your wedding day.



Photos from a Styled Shoot



Looking at Styled Shoots and Real Wedding Inspiration


Choosing a photographer can be overwhelming with so many talented people out there. Checking out websites and portfolios is a great place to start. There is something important I’ve learned over the years of being a professional photographer here in Alberta for almost a decade now and I want to be sure it’s something I share with brides-to-be so they will find the right fit for their big day. When you flip through these gorgeous magazines, the pictures are perfect. Not a hair out of place, a cloud in the sky, or a wrinkle on a tux. Photo editing is a skill that every good wedding photographer should have, but something they can’t control is real life. The pictures you see in magazines are perfect, because they are typically taken during “Styled Shoots.”


Photos from Styled Shoots


This means that the photos you are often looking at for inspiration, are not from a real wedding day. It’s a day specifically chosen (or even rescheduled if the weather isn’t perfect) and every element of the shoot is pre-planned— the poses, the lighting, the set-up, the backgrounds, and more. If just one element is out of place, it can be re-done. While these shoots are beautiful and can provide great inspiration, they are so different from shooting a live-action, day-of wedding.



Photos from Real Weddings


Why This Matters: Finding and Booking Your Wedding Photographer


When a couple is looking for their perfect photographer, they usually start by looking at websites of local professionals. They see a style they like and start the process of getting in touch with that person.


Looking at websites is a good starting point but making sure the photographer has examples of real weddings is so important! Shooting in a controlled environment is one thing, but it’s a very different skill set to be able to move around the crowd, capturing those special moments through the chaos of what is usually a really busy day. A wedding photographer needs to know how to quickly grab the moments of great lighting, smiling faces, flattering angles, and so much more. For a styled shoot, the photographer often has as much time as they need, and will be able to prop you in front of the largest window with the most natural light. This isn't something we often have the luxury of on a wedding day (at last not for very long!).


Photos from Styled Shoots



On the other hand, if your photographer has only shot styled wedding shoots, they lack the experience of recognizing those moments and being able to capture them in the best way. Even when it comes time for the posed photos, a wedding photographer needs to work with the existing weather conditions (wind can make it particularly challenging) and be able to handle any issues that may arise (even the most well-planned wedding will have some moments of unpredictability!).


groom and groomsmen having fun outside

Photo from a Real Wedding



Use Styled Shots for Inspiration, not a Real Wedding Portfolio


Styled wedding shoots provide great inspiration — we are not here to say that styled shoots are only bad! Unfortunately, I have seen couples who have ended up being disappointed with their photos after hiring a photographer who doesn’t have as much experience shooting live weddings. Even if you love the style of photos you see on a website, you want to make sure you love the photographer’s shots of real wedding days as well. If the photographer can’t provide great examples for you to take a look at, you should continue your search to find one who has captured the special (and unplanned!) moments of a variety of weddings.


Photos from a Styled Shoot



Fly Free Photography Captures Elopements and Micro Weddings All Over BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan


Here at Fly Free Photography, we document elopements and intimate weddings for more than 20 happy couples per year. In 2021, it was 27! Not including all of the incredible anniversary sessions, engagement photos, and adventure photo shoots. We love the adventure each wedding day brings and being able to capture it with our lenses so you can keep those beautiful memories close to your heart. This topic hits especially close to home because we find it absolutely heartbreaking when couples reach out to us desperate for a redo because they hate their wedding photos. Please get in touch with us to chat about how we can work together to make your day incredible!

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