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27 Sep 2021

The truth about “light and airy” and “dark and moody” styles of photography

Trends change. Aspire instead to images that stand the test of time.

I’ve talked to several couples this summer who mentioned that they’re tired of some of the photography style trends that seem to be everywhere right now. Two of the most common trends are what’s called the “light and airy” and “dark and moody” styles that a lot of photographers have adopted.

First, let me explain what I mean by “light and airy” and “dark and moody.” If you’ve been looking at wedding photography recently, you probably know these styles when you see them. Light and airy photos are bright, light, and generally feature soft, pastel-colored subjects. 

By contrast, “dark and moody” photos are just that: lots of dark areas, images with deep shadows, rich colors, and lots of drama.

Here’s a light and airy photo from early in Allison and Magnus’ wedding day. The suite at the Bernards Inn is bathed in soft daylight that streams in from several large windows on two sides of the room. It’s one of my favorite spaces to photograph in because of its amazing daylight! Photos taken in this room during the day are naturally bright, light, and “airy,” just like this one of Allison looking incredibly stylish just before her wedding ceremony.

Stylish and elegant bride with white hair confidently poses in the bridal suite at the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, NJ

In contrast, the photo below is another one of my absolute favorites from Allison & Magnus’ wedding, taken in the luxuriously appointed Silver Vault. The Silver Vault has no windows and the elegant decor exudes soft, muted elegance. It is super romantic and totally bathed in candlelight which makes it an incredibly opulent room for special occasions.

Elegant candlelit wedding reception at the Bernards Inn

Light and airy and dark and moody styles in digital photography were born of film emulations — photographers making post-production edits to simulate the look of analog film photography. I love film and got my start in film photography before switching to digital somewhere in the mid-2000s. Film has gorgeous, rich color tones and the first digital photographers worked hard in post-production to match those beautiful qualities. And we still do! 

In my opinion, the problem is when people use those effects on everything and declare “I’m a light and airy photographer!” Or “I’m a dark and moody photographer!” And some couples seem to go for it. Also, the thought that you have to choose between the two is nonsense to me.

As an experienced event photographer, when I enter a space, I want to let the room and atmosphere suggest the look of the final image. That’s why I adjusted the photo of Allison in the getting ready suite to match the natural light and airiness of the window light, and the image of Magnus and Allison at their candlelit table in the Silver Vault to match the drama of the room.

My best advice is that instead of searching for a #lightandairy photographer or a #darkandmoody photographer, find a photographer whose style you love and make sure they’re experienced working in environments similar to your wedding. That way, when you look back at your images 10 years from now, you’ll be reminded of what the day actually looked and felt like instead of the trendy filter and overlay style that was in fashion for a minute.

Looking for a photo style that’s authentic to your wedding day? Let’s get in touch.

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I’M  LAURA

NJ BASED WEDDING, PORTRAIT AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER

Hi! I’m Laura Billingham a wedding, portrait and lifestyle photographer based in Frenchtown, NJ.

For over 20 years I’ve captured the moments and details that matter for couples, families and businesses. Let’s connect and start making beautiful images together!

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