If you’ve ever come across fine art wedding photography you know its personality: gentle, romantic and elegant. There is something very similar between them all, but what is it exactly that makes a wedding a fine art? Let’s peel back a layer and dig in.
Fine art weddings are all exquisitely beautiful. If I had only two words to describe them, it would be just like that exquisitely beautiful. They are very intentionally planned tying in all details into a seamless aesthetic and era. The textures and materials used are natural and in their finest form, pulling in artisan skill and timelessness. And because of all of these features, fine art weddings are experiential events that pair the careful curation of the aesthetics to celebrations of an elevated experience.
Over the last decade I’ve studied the style, created editorials, and written about the topic. In my opinion, there are 10 pillars that must be observed to plan and document a fine art wedding.
Negative space is a term used by artists that describes surfaces or settings of simplicity and with very little distraction. Another way to describe it is as minimalism in a an image. Take for example this photo below of a bride holding her bouquet against a blank stone wall. The space surrounding the bride is called negative space. The same look can be achieved if a big open sky is behind the client with no distractions other than the horizon. Negative space allows photographers to create a canvas behind the client that puts all attention on the client in a very calculated and dreamy way. Negative space infuses images with a calmness and builds for a portfolio that has space to breathe without being overbearing.
Neutrality comes in many forms. It can take the shape of color (or lack thereof), texture, design, food, and lighting. When fine art weddings come together the neutrality is seen in the way all of the elements come together. Opulence is often avoided, and when ornate pieces are incorporated in a neutral or nonintrusive way. Take for example the portrait of one of my clients. There are ornate pieces (the art on the wall, the pillow pattern and even the sheer number of items in the image), but because there is a neutrality to the tones with none overbearing the subject, the fine art aesthetic of neutrality can be preserved.
This is an easy element to incorporate and it comes in many forms. Softness refers to color pallets, fabrics, photography style, make-up, weather, posing, lighting and so many areas. When you think of softness use the word interchangeably with gentleness. Fine art weddings are defined by their dreamy quality and softness is an easy way to achieve this. Just like in the photo above, avoid rigid fabrics, tight bouquets, dramatic make-up, strong colors and opulent decor. Look for an innocent gentleness in everything you choose. If you fall in love with a very ornate item, for example, a brass serving tray, pair it with other items that are not ornate and neutral in tone.
natural and Organic
Organic, in fine art photography, is used to describe natural materials and natural presentations. Materials in fine art weddings are most commonly made of natural and materials like silks, cottons, linens and lace and harder materials like marble, stone, clay, fine metals and plaster. In fine art weddings over production and over refinement are avoided to preserve materials in their most natural forms. Often we see hand-dyed fabrics, .water colors, and calligraphy incorporated that show beautiful custom artistry custom made for the day.
Romance, Elegance and Classic
The adjective used most often to describe fine art weddings is romantic. The dreamy qualities and creamy tones blend together to achieve that gentle style we described above. Partnered with the beautiful pastel tones most typically chosen for fine art weddings, the romantic vein runs strong. Couples attracted to this style are often equally attracted to the timelessness of the romance, often drawing on inspiration from old world Europe. There we see beautiful 17th, 18th, and 19th century architecture that stands as beautiful today as it did when it was created, with intricate details done in those neutral tones using materials we now describe as natural and organic. As a photographer, I have seen wedding images taken over decades ago in these places that still serve as inspiration to me and couples alike because there is a timelessness in them: a classic elegance.
a beautiful historic venue
Location sets the tone for a beautiful wedding day. Fine art weddings are experiential celebrations where all of the different elements set a tone and ambiance for the day. Couples are best served consulting with a photographer as well as a planner prior to booking their venue. The venue should have a functional space for all needed services, such as catering, and should offer beautiful natural light indoors and outdoors, for the duration of the day. If you were to look closely at the venues selected for fine art weddings, many do not require a lot of decor due to the elegance and architecture they already posses. When a venue is beautiful the decor budget can be redirected for other purposes. The old world charm in most fine art wedding venues eliminates the need for much decor at all, with the exception of florals. This couple chose the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, Austria.
Elevated design style and High Fashion
Every fine art wedding is paired with exquisite taste, this includes the venue, attire, food, and design. The fine art couples are not necessarily lovers of tradition, they are lovers of cohesive perfection. They to high end designers for intricate work on dress that isn’t always about the brand name but it is about incredible design. This is high fashion: exquisite craftsmanship, one of a kind pieces and with movement that create an elevated fashion appearance. When it comes to the design of the even, fine art weddings are carefully planned and thoughtfully prepared. Each element of the wedding decor is hand selected and each item seamlessly ties in with all the other items and emotions of the day make a beautiful collective look that is both high end and personalized.
Dreamy bouquets and florals
Floral bouquets, table arrangements and installments come in so many different forms and styles. The fine art wedding industry has narrowed down its approach to florals by governing decision based on organic form. Fine art florals are arranged in such a way that each individual flower has its own space to breathe. The arrangements are never over structured in artificial ways and the binding at the base controls stems without pressing the petals. Fine art wedding bouquets are usually larger due to the looseness and form. When prepared for tables, the vessels used are typically of fine metals, clay or stone, grounding the arrangements and complimenting the style of the venue, without detracting from the beauty of the florals.
a fine art photographer
As a photographer, I would be remiss if I didn’t express the importance of a hiring a fine art wedding photographer, not just any wedding photographer, to achieve the fine art look. Fine art photographers are well versed in the style, the approach and editing required to achieve the final product. Avoid asking wedding photographers who are not defined by this style to attempt to recreate it; just as you wouldn’t ask a Picasso to paint you a impressionist painting, allow photographers who are experts in their own style to serve you. There is a photographer for every taste out there, choose the one that is right for you. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of fine art photographers use film exclusively or in a hybrid format. Film and film-like digital photography are the key to putting the final touch on your wedding day as they will be the records of your day. Create and heirloom and enjoy your celebration and romance for years to come with a custom designed wedding album for your home.
An incredible planner and vendor team
Complimenting your photographer with a fine art wedding planner and fine art florist would create the ultimate wedding artist team. Speak to your prospective vendors and ask them about their style and to view their work. Fine vendors that are a pleasure to work with and who understand your tastes, then work together, with occasional group checkins, to achieve your wedding day end goal.
Thank you so much for inviting me into your planning. I truly hope this guide and checklist serve you in your planning. If I can be of help in your photography or for consulting services, please reach out to me. Until then, best wishes.