What Is Fine Art Wedding Photography?

Vizcaya Museum Fine Art Photography

Fine Art Photography seems to be a trending phrase, especially in the wedding industry. Where this term came from isn’t as important as what it actually means for you, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today!

First, let me just tell you that I get it. You’re on the phone with your mother and your in-laws and your great aunt’s friend talking wedding plans, you just booked an incredible venue, and you just need someone you can trust to capture the current most-important day of your life for you. So you have about 17 tabs open in one browser and 12 open in another, and you’re starting to get overwhelmed at the onslaught of everything both looking the same and simultaneously looking different. You’ve seen at least 6 photographers who “love all the doggies, coffee, and cupcakes!!” You have no idea what the heck the difference is between Traditional and Classical when it comes to photography styles. And let’s not even mention the pricing. Why are no pricing pages even remotely similar??

Then, there is the mystery of those calling themselves “Fine Art Photographers.” Does that just mean expensive? Or…?

I’ve got you, boo.

What is Fine Art Photography?

In the realm of wedding photography, this has become a way of describing a style that is not fully photo-journalistic (which often means NO posing— in other words, 100% candid) and yet not traditional (nearly 100% posed and formal).

One of the main aspects, aside from overall style, is the use of medium format film. No, this is not like those disposable film cameras we all bought at Walgreen’s to use on vacation in middle school. Professionals around the world use medium format, and while it’s a pricey art form, the quality is unsurpassed. Many artists choose to use both film and digital to utilize the strengths of both (and keep costs manageable), while some still use film alone. Synonymous for “fine art” is often “inspired by the art form of film.”

Another way of putting this is that fine art photographers might also simply choose to call themselves artists. This is what I personally prefer. As artists, we use cameras as a painter uses a paintbrush. We tell stories with shutters. We believe in the meaning and sacredness  behind what we do; we derive inspiration from the artists who came before us, and we still believe in the beauty of techniques that were in use generations ago.

Key aspects of the Fine Art

Photography Style:

— Editorial in Nature

Editorial work can be defined as images used to illustrate a story or idea, or to convey a certain theme visually. Think of images found in a glossy magazine (i.e. Harper’s Bazaar or Vogue), and how those images tend to make you feel something.

— Filled with Creative Expression from the Artist

When you hire a fine art photographer, you’re not hiring a photographer to show up with their gear and press buttons. You’re hiring the artist. This is why it is so important to find the right one for you, because when they show up on your wedding day, they’re going to tell your story in a way that is influenced by their creative eye. When it comes to fine art photographers, you have to trust them as artists.

— Focused on Connection with the Viewer

Just as paintings hold meaning for us long after their creators are gone, fine art photographers want their images to mean something when they’re pulled out of heirloom boxes by your great-grandchildren 100 years from now.

— Deep Attention to Story-Telling

No wedding is the same, because no love story is the same. Those stories deserve to be told, and remembered, and treasured in the years to come. Fine art photographers will look for the natural moments, but also aren’t shy about setting the scene.

— Many Fine Details

Your shoes, the hand-scripting on your invitation suite, his cufflinks, the venue’s wrought iron gate, your grandmother’s rings as she laces your wedding dress… the fine details are what we love to capture, because it helps tell a deeper story of your wedding day and the meaning held in every moment.

— Intimate, Emotional Images of Love

Details are only a tiny part of a love story, so a fine art photographer’s heart truly lies with emotions. Allowing your feelings for each other to take front and center, and allowing those feelings to be felt by anyone who sees your images, is of the utmost importance.

— Dreamlike Look

Some describe fine art photography as resembling a soft dream or a painting in appearance, and that is thanks in part to the qualities of film.

Vizcaya Museum Fine Art Photography

What Fine Art Photography

Means to Me Personally

& Hailey Amber Photography

It means creative expression.

When I was in high school, I painted. All the time. I’ve always had an adoration for art, and I’ve always admired painters (and would live in art museums if I could). I spent a great deal of time studying Impressionism, and can honestly say those artists are my absolute favorite in all of history.  They were rebels. They didn’t do things like everybody else did. And they didn’t let criticism stop them from creating what they loved.

They loved light, and they knew how to use it to evoke emotion. They loved color. They loved unique angles and compositions that shocked people used to the formal portrait painting. They incorporated movement.  And they loved to capture the essence of what it means to be living. 

It means that I will be an active and visible part of your wedding day.

As a photographic artist, I take a more hands-on approach. I don’t mind staging a shot as long as it tells the right story, and as long as it allows the viewer to forget I (the photographer) was there. I prefer to direct like a filmmaker rather than pose couples like they’re modeling for a marble statue carver. When you see an image in your gallery, I want you to remember how you felt at the moment it was taken.

This also means that while I love Pinterest as much as the next girl (you can follow my pinning habit here!), I prefer to work off of my own creative eye than off of a list of Pinterest poses. I would much rather let your love for each other create powerful, pinning-worthy images that are entirely your own.

“Things like the colors of the backgrounds, the expressions, and the details to feel like a cohesive story when viewed together, and almost look and feel like a painting or a dream.”

It means that capturing your love story in a deeply felt, authentic way is my my motive.

Above all, what is most important to me is capturing this love story that you two share in a way that will carry it on for generations to come.

Hailey Amber is a fine art film wedding photographer serving Chicago, Milwaukee, and South Central Wisconsin. She loves nothing more than to capture weddings, anniversaries, and engagements for hopelessly-in-love couples with bold dreams and hearts for adventure. You can find her chasing light at home in the U.S.— and in especially romantic European destinations abroad.