A Stylist's Thoughts on Wedding Photography Trends

Lauren Johnson (www.laurenrjohnson.com) has been a stylist for photographers for many years, specializing mainly in bridal and wedding photography styling.  While her more recent background has been in wedding and commercial styling, Lauren's formal training has been through public relations and journalism, giving her a unique sensibility on fashion and styling trends on video and in live news anchoring situations, as well as general styling trends as they emerged throughout the world.  Pictureline asked her specifically about some of the trends she was noticing in her field of wedding and engagement photography, and the styling of both the set and the bride and groom. 

Lauren:  "When Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement photo was released in 2010, photographed by Mario Testino, many photographers throughout the world cried foul. Testino, a true artist known for his fashion-forward and daring style did something his fans did not expect—he photographed Kate and William, wearing a dress and suit, holding one another, posing formally inside St. James Palace. (See the images here.)

"There were no railroad tracks, no abandoned warehouses with broken windows, no fire escapes, or couches placed in fields. What Testino did was pure journalistic photography at its best. He took the couple and delivered them a photograph well suited for the Royal family—traditional, true to their environment, authentic, and timeless. I applaud Testino for the true artist he is and his ability to adapt to each individual client, showing the world exactly who Kate and William are:  royal, proper, heirs to the throne, in love, and happy.


"As a stylist for photographers, this is exactly where I see the new trend of wedding photography going. Last decade the urban downtown settings helped photographers get out of the studio and gave them more possibilities for creativity and individual artistry. With the love of all things Anthropologie, specifically their whimsical and vintage-inspired catalogs, wedding photography took on much of this feel. This vintage-wedding style broadened as we dealt with a struggling economy, learned all about DIY wedding planning, and became excited as we realized grandma’s rusted old coffee canister could make a clever (and free) vase for the peonies. We rediscovered the beauty of old. We should be proud of this trend, as I believe people learned to see the beauty in a tagged graffiti wall and even saw it fitting for the background of a bridal shoot.  But the time has passed.

"No longer is it fresh to see the engaged couple holding vintage luggage dressed in their thrift store throw-backs.  Vintage is vintage again. Officially. It's true.  The higher-end wedding photography blogs are no longer accepting vintage or urban wedding shoots. Pinterest has that covered. What the photography blogs and wedding stylists are wanting is timeless glamour.


"Beyond their engagement shoot, Kate and William made waves again, this time with their wedding. Kate took cues from Grace Kelly, and her dress portrayed that timeless elegance. She did two things that hadn’t been popular with weddings for at least a decade—she had sleeves, and she completed the look with a formal cathedral veil.  Numerous designers have now copied the dress. Veils are back in style. Kate and William reminded us about what we used to love about weddings—formal elegance.

"Their engagement photo reflected that formal elegance as well. It was who they were. The setting was not forced or out of place. It wasn’t in an alley or antique shop because they aren’t street vendors or antique dealers.  Their photo was taken where they belonged, in the palace. This is where wedding photography needs to head. Photos record history. Thus, we need to be more journalistic. Let’s photograph the traditional bride in the home she grew up in, or why not go back to placing her in a rose garden?


"Trends come and go. A creative idea is copied and passed down, as it has been with all of the trends I have mentioned. All photography becomes dated no matter how hard we try.  But remember, journalistic photography can never be scoffed at in later years, because it is honest. Testino’s photograph of Kate and William was honest, and therefore timeless. It was who they were, and they’ll never regret that jumping shot with the crooked frame in front of the cathedral.  They’ll never wonder why they thought the vintage airstream trailer was an ideal prop, when they live, literally, like royalty.

"As a stylist, I hope to make sure the bride never looks back on her photos and becomes embarrassed by her hair and makeup. I keep it traditional, and help the bride be her best version. A photographer should take on that same responsibility and help the couple be their best version—showcasing exactly who they are. Place them in an authentic environment, and let them be the focus, not the gumball machine, the balloons, the lollipops, the bicycle built for two, the industrial brick, the chevron patterned background … you catch my drift.

Testino—well done!"

Stay connected to Lauren:  Website

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Kate and william engagement photographMario testinoPicturelineSeptember 2012Wedding photography