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10 Best Wedding Photography Trends of 2016

By Guest Contributor on January 30th 2016

It’s a new year, and that means new trends and the multi-billion dollar wedding industry is no exception. Some of these styles and techniques have hit the trend lists before but are increasing in popularity in 2016. You’ll want to mix some of these into your workflow to stay current on what’s happening in the industry.

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1. Classic Film

In a purely digital age, the world of film photography is making a comeback. Using classic film allows the photographer to create beautiful memories with the richness that is lost in digital imagery. This trend bodes well, as brides are moving back to classic-colored wedding dresses.

Classic film allows the subtle nuisances of the meticulously crafted wedding dressed to be captured, something that often gets lost in a digital and pixelated photograph.

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2. Candid Story Telling

In years prior, it was customary to have each picture perfectly set up and staged. This year the trend is to have more natural shots of the wedding couple and their guests; whether it’s Grandpa and granddaughter dancing together, infants with cake smothered all over their face, or an intimate moment of the bride fixing her groom’s tie. Posed pictures can feel unnatural at times.

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3. Post Production Edits

After the big day is over, the fun has just begun for photographers. Enhancing color where you layer or paint a series of colors or faded washes to highlight certain tones and de-emphasize others within the image. Taking it back to Vintage by adding washed out tones of warmer colors like red, yellow or orange to give the photos that timeless feel. Get the feel with textures by changing the image to have a grainer effect that changes the crisp digital photo to mimic film.

Check out the Lightroom  Preset System for the new filmic effects and well as the paper textures pack here.

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4. Going Prime

Primes are a “trend” that’s been popular for a number of years now, but still worth mentioning since they are so great! We recommend a nice 50mm or 85mm prime lens. The main reason to go prime is quality, wider maximum aperture, lighter weight, and smaller size. The prime lenses have fewer parts within the lens, and it is made for one focal length. Think of it as a sniper rifle compared to a shotgun. The larger maximum aperture (smaller f-number) allows photography in lower light and a shallower depth of field. Thus, you can capture the late night receptions and get incredible distinctions between the crisp subject and the blurred background.

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5. Tech for Style

Two very trendy tools for this year are tilt shift lens and art lens. Tilt shift lenses do a nifty trick of creating narrow areas of focus by blurring other parts of the image. This can be applied to wedding videos too, which make for artistic and abstract styles.

In the last few years, the popularity of art lenses have been on the rise. Sigma Art Lenses are wildly popular because of the high quality vs. lower price compared to top of the line Nikon or Canon lenses. Sigma Art Lenses create a very natural look that many stock lenses simply cannot capture. This natural look falls right in line with the trend of “candid storytelling.” The Sigma Art series truly is a great addition to any photographer’s arsenal.

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6. Forget Boring Bridals, Think “Groomals”

Bridals have always been a long standing tradition for weddings. Well, times are a changing, and bridal sessions are starting to include the groom more and more. Couples are going away from a traditional way of the groom seeing the dress for the first time, and they instead have that captured at the bridal session. This alleviates some stress on the wedding day since they’ve already taken so many pictures.

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7. Into The Wild

Perfectly placed props, flowers, and pristine locations are dropping the straight lace and heading outdoors. Natural wild settings for Groomals, Bridals and the actual wedding itself is becoming quite popular. This approach is following the trend of creating less ceremony and a more natural experience.

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8. Drone Wedding Shots

Aerial wedding photographs are not just for celebrities and paparazzi any more. Your everyday bride is looking to wedding photographers to capture aerial shots of the whole wedding landscape in its entirety and the use of drones now makes it possible to have wedding pictures that were not previously possible.

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9. Wedding Hashtags

If it isn’t on Instagram, it didn’t happen. Bride and grooms are creating their own hashtags and are encouraging their guests to tag their photos when they post them online. The use of wedding hashtags allows the couple and those who couldn’t attend to see all the candid moments that were taken on the special day and sometimes, candid moments are the best moments.

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10. Be a Storyteller

Long gone are just the wedding day festivities highlight reel. People love stories (why do you think movies exist?) so make every photograph or video tell a story. Each couple has a unique story that is their own, tell that through the photos and video. Whether it’s through themed shoots like comic books, movies, or just a totally different feel like wild nature, grungy city, or elegant gardens, show a process rather than just a single moment. Capture the wedding day preparation, the emotions of friends and family, the bride and groom’s preparation with mom and dad, the couple’s first moment together, and climax up to the big “I do.” Tell their story.

Conclusion

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Be daring with new techniques and incorporate the popular trends, capturing people’s thoughts or emotions and the whole story.

2016 is sure to be a busy year for wedding photographers as they gear up to meet the demand of all of this year’s top trends in wedding photography. Social media is sure to be full of timeless and classic wedding portraits, as well as fun and innovative shots of the most glorious day in a bride’s life.

About the Guest Contributor

Bethany Cleg is a small business owner at Bethany Cleg Photography. She is an avid writer, photographer, and tech geek.  She is passionate about living a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life. She strives to share her insights with the world and to inspire happiness in others. When she’s not writing or taking pictures, you’ll find her hiking with her family.

If you’re interested in becoming a guest contributor, contact us!

7 Comments

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  1. Mary fee

    Great article, so informative :) Mary, https://www.storiesofido.com

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  2. Cristina St. Germain

    this was a great bullethead list of the things that i saw from the 2015 wedding season, and its just kinda continuing so far in the 2016 season.

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  3. Megan Allen

    Great article! I personally adore primes, so I loved seeing them mentioned here. The art lenses are great additions to my lineup, too. I’ll definitely take a look at the film emulation links mentioned. Thanks for your time invested in this write up!

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  4. Stephen Jennings

    I don’t really see the appeal of film photography. You can emulate film well enough, indeed, you can emulate and then enhance the effects with far more precision and ease than actual film. Besides, the average person is more interested in the VSCO like colors, not that it’s film. So why shoot film? It’d be like me saying I want to watch an old movie.. and insist on watching it on VHS .. on a 1980’s analog TV .. or refusing to edit on anything but a CRT monitor. Makes no sense.

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      From what I’ve seen over the past year, it’s mostly been a reverting back to medium format film which is an entirely different animal to 35mm. These have mostly been for engagement and family session. Seeing some of those images has made me seriously consider dabbling in Medium format combined with Fuji 400 film.

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      I should add that part of the pull to dabble in medium format film is the fact that you can get a killer portrait kit for well under $1000. For example a Pentax 645N and a 150 2.8 for a look that IMO would be extremely hard to duplicate with my D800. My 2 cents

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  5. Jay Cassario

    Great article, and killer imagery!

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