What’s a ‘photography style’?

What’s a ‘photography style’?

I hired a painter last month to transform my honey-oak trim into a lovely semi-gloss white. I’d never hired painters before, and didn’t know the right questions to ask. I ended up hiring based on price alone.

I’ll let Julia explain how awesome that idea was.

how to hire a family photographer

Had I asked the right questions when hiring trim painters, I could have avoided some major headaches (and chipping trim paint for the next decade). *sigh*

Don’t be like me when you hire your family photographer.

What’s photo style?

Photo style refers to the visual look of the photos; in other words, the editing style. There are countless variations, but a handful that are most popular.

Why is photo style important when hiring a photographer?

Not every photographer is a good fit for every family, and that’s okay.

Part of finding the right fit is knowing what kind of photo style you like, and understanding what you’re going to get.

We’ll start by identifying the style—both editing and visual—that you’re looking for.

What editing style are you attracted to?

Think about the images you’re drawn to. They don’t have to be family photos; any image of people will do.

Are they moodier images with rich blacks, or light and airy photos with pastels? Do they include bold, true-to-life colors or desaturated tones?

If you haven’t a clue what I mean by that, don’t worry. This is photography-speak, so let’s look at some examples. A quick Google Image search of “dark and moody family photography” is pretty clear:

Family photography in dark and moody style

Now try the same thing with “light and airy family photography“:

Family photography in light and airy style

Big, big difference.

The distinction between desaturated and bold color is a little more subtle. So here’s a comparison of two Instagram feeds: Shantel Phipps Photography and Rebekah Melancon Photography:

how to hire a family photographer
how to hire a family photographer

Both are closer to dark and moody, but the first is suuuuuper desaturated and “warm” (aka yellow/brown) while Rebekah has allllll the bold colors, though her style is still pretty warm.

There’s desaturated light-and-airy as well as colorful light-and-airy. Some photographers do bold and colorful, but desaturate just the greens.

Clearly, there’s a lot of variety in each category.

I’m giving you permission to go down a rabbit hole on Instagram (the #familyphotography tag is a good starting point). Scroll away, and see what jumps out at you.

Can I ask the photographer to use the editing style I prefer?

No. Just… no.

Imagine you’re commissioning a painting for your home. One artist paints with a style you love, but he’s booked out two years. Another paints in a style you dislike, but her turnaround is fast. Would you ask the second artist to “just paint like that other guy”?

(Not unless you want something thrown at your head.)

Photography is an art form. Photographers are artists.

Even though it’s called “editing style,” that style starts long before you step in front of our lens. The wardrobe guidance we provide, the location we select, the time of day we shoot, how we use light, the textures we look for… all are part of executing a certain style.

Photographers hone their skills in a single style and make choices to support it all along the way—not just when editing.

Next time…

You, my friend, are off and running! In part 2 of the series, we’ll talk about finding the posing style you like best.


  1. This is an amazing resource for clients thinking about hiring a photographer! You really break it down and explain it so well!

  2. This is perfect! Love this blog post!


  1. How to Hire a Family Photographer #5: Wardrobe & Styling • Apollo & Ivy Photography - […] Part 1: editing style […]
  2. How to Hire a Family Photographer #6: Locations • Apollo & Ivy Photography - […] POSTS: How to hire a photographer Part 1: editing stylePart 2: posing stylePart 3: digitals, prints, turnaround, and backup…