Graphic displaying - 10 wedding photography trends that will rule 2021

2020 has undoubtedly changed our lives. With COVID forcing everyone indoors, we’ve had to adapt to a world we only saw in movies (anyone recalls how the whole world was watching Contagion back in March?). It’s no secret that industries across the world were affected by the pandemic, and its effect on the wedding industry was equally brutal. But, wedding photographers pulled through and adapted to the new norm despite the many hurdles. And, as such, 2020 brought some new twists to wedding photography trends for 2021.

Recap: Wedding Photography Trends in 2020

Bride & groom walking away in the woods with the sun shining over them

Though couples had to push pause on their wedding plans, creating havoc for wedding photographers, weddings and wedding photographers bounced back as soon as restrictions were eased, albeit with some changes. Weddings became more intimate with limited guest lists, masks became the new must-have accessories and Zoom weddings became more common. Wedding photographers also had to navigate through unchartered territory. You couldn’t get too close to people, you had to prioritize your safety, destination and local weddings were getting canceled or postponed, you get the point. It wasn’t easy.

Even though wedding photographers had to deal with the pandemic personally, and bear the brunt of COVID economically, they made it happen. They survived canceled weddings, navigated refund requests from couples, changed the way they worked while shooting weddings during the pandemic, which included following social distancing at all times, only using verbal cues to help their couples pose, and sanitized their equipment. The otherwise always booming wedding industry also underwent a makeover during the pandemic (with these wedding photography trends for 2021). We saw wedding venues posting social distancing signs, sanitization of venues became a must, vendors had to assure couples about hygiene and safety standards, and destination weddings came to a standstill due to the restricted air travel. Big fat weddings took a back seat during 2020, but they might just make a comeback in the new year.

Top Wedding Photography Trends to Watch Out For in 2021

1. Casual and Natural Weddings are Here to Stay

Bride with the face tilted down & groom with his hands on the bride’s waist posing for a wedding portrait

Many couples who still said “I do” starting in March of 2020 had to pivot their plans and go with small, low-key weddings. Some couples even opted for elopements instead of the larger wedding they had hoped for, with new plans to have the reception/party at a later date in 2021. In both cases, weddings became more personal affairs with minimum guests.

These smaller, intimate weddings – reduced in size but not importance – allowed couples to really bond with each other and their limited guests on the wedding day. They offered opportunities for raw, unfiltered moments for the couple to experience and for the photographer to capture. It also gave photographers the chance to give their couples more time for photographs, which also allowed for more creativity. For these reasons, we think this smaller and intimate wedding trend could stick around in 2021. To learn more about this trend, read our blog on Elopements and Small Weddings.

2. Even More Outdoor Sessions

An engagement session photo of a couple locked in each other’s arms facing each other.

Outdoor photo sessions, especially for engagements, became a must in 2020 because health experts suggested that the virus thrives indoors. They allowed photographers and couples to get creative and feel relatively safer in the times of COVID, and also gave pro photographers the chance to work with anything nature threw at them. The drama created by the great mountains or the moody clouds can hardly be replaced by an indoor session.

Because many photographers already photograph outdoors and love the vibe an outdoor session creates, we think outdoor sessions will keep going strong as a wedding photography trend in 2021 as well. And, because outdoor sessions are essential, we may also see an uptick in the use of drones to take photos into 2021 and beyond. Our blog on drone photography might give you an insight on this trend. Outdoor Wedding and Engagement Photography for Inspiration offers some amazing ideas for an outdoor session.

3. Indoor Sessions Will Be Back in 2021

Collage of 2 photos in an indoor engagement session The guy lifting up the girl on his arms in the left image. The couple facing each other in the right image

Indoor sessions were almost completely out in 2020 due to COVID. As health experts suggested that outdoor gatherings are comparatively at a lower risk to the virus than indoors, most couples and photographers took their sessions outdoors. But, as the situation starts to get better and we enter the new year, this might just change and we think that indoor sessions could make a comeback as one of the wedding photography trends in 2021.

While you can use the outdoor surroundings to complement your photographs, indoor sessions also have the potential to yield great results. Something about being alone with a couple in an enclosed space that is important to the couple makes the experience even more personal. Indoor sessions can also allow photographers to use light differently – to work with window light and available light sources. Also, with indoor sessions, the photographer and the couple don’t have to worry about the weather spoiling their plans.

Learn more about indoor lighting from our blog on How To Shoot in Small and Dark Wedding Venues.

4. Masked Photos

black and white photo of couple wearing masks in their wedding photo to protect against COVID

As a wedding photographer, it’s your instinct to photograph even the smallest details – the veil, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the groom’s bow tie. When it comes to details, another carryover from 2020 that may trend in 2021 is photographing masks and couples/guests wearing masks! Until we know for sure that everyone is safe from infection, couples and guests may still want to wear masks, and if they get a mask that matches their attire, this will be a detail worth capturing!

5. How Many Props Are Too Many Props?

Candid image of a bride and groom posing with soap bubble guns

No matter what year it is, we think props are fun! Whether it’s the bridesmaids holding umbrellas or the groomsmen in superhero masks, props allow for some fun and creativity. Sometimes they even add more joy and color to your photographs – think sparklers and sky lanterns. Most couples and bridal parties love using props (think photo booths!) and it can lead to some pretty amazing candid images when guests start to play.

Considering how props add an element of fun, we think they will continue to be a wedding photography trend in 2021. Props evolve every year, so let us know what props you see that are share-worthy for 2021 in the comments below!

6. First Look Photos

Bride walking down the stairs as the groom waits on the other side in a first look photo as a wedding photography trend 2021

Packed with emotions, we think the first look moment never gets old. Whether it’s the bride doing a “first look” with her father or the groom seeing the bride for the first time in her gown, we think wedding photography trends in 2021 will definitely include first look photos.

How to Set Up and Shoot a First Look for Wedding Photographers offers some simple steps to get the best first look photographs.

7. Bridal Party Photos

The bride & groom posing alongside the bridesmaids and groomsmen

In 2020, couples had added challenges while planning their COVID wedding – the limited guest list and the need to make many relationships and friendships go virtual/long distance. This also meant that the size of the bridal parties shrunk. But because bridal parties are charged with helping the bride and groom to get ready, being a part of the ceremony, getting goofy for photos, and allowing the bride and groom to find moments of joy, comfort and silliness on their big day, we think (and hope) that bridal parties will come back stronger in 2021.

Our blog on 35 Must-Have Bridal Party Photos offers plenty of suggestions on bridal party posing.

8. Family First

When it comes to weddings, taking family photos is less of a trend and more of a tradition. 2020 forced many families to live apart, and reduced wedding guest lists to where family members were excluded (out of necessity). We think 2021 will see larger family groups gathering again at weddings, and give couples the chance to celebrate their special day with the whole family. We also think photographers will be asked to capture even more family photos at weddings because people are valuing family more than ever.

9. Including Virtual Guests

Virtual weddings were one of the big, if not the biggest, new wedding trends in 2020 (also a wedding photography trend for 2021). In one way, it allowed wedding photographers to focus more on the couple and their small (but mighty) guests in attendance (if any), but it also meant wedding photographers had to really get creative to attempt to capture the guests who were not physically present. If weddings continue to have virtual guests, then creative ways to capture virtual guests may turn out to be one of the top wedding photography trends that emerge in 2021.

10. Focusing on the Decor

A glimpse of the bride & groom dancing in a hall decorated with chandeliers & candles

Another strong contender for wedding photography trends in 2021 is the minimal decor. In 2020, smaller weddings meant that instead of spending lots of time and money on planning for large numbers of guests, couples could focus on spending more of both on the quality of the wedding, which meant they could spend more on quality, personal decor and the overall aesthetic. This was good news for wedding photographers as even the most basic venue, like a backyard, may have had special details that might not otherwise have made it to the big day in a non-COVID world. Thoughtful elements, simple yet elegant, ruled the day and helped make even the simplest wedding “Instagrammable”. Yes, we think this one is here to stay!

The New Norm in Wedding Photography Trends in 2021

Weddings are clearly not going anywhere. While they might be more intimate now, and in the future, photographers still have to tell the story of the day. Our suggested wedding photography trends for 2021 are hopeful but certainly will have a lot to do with how the world continues to deal with the pandemic and how wedding photographers adapt to the new normal.
At ShootDotEdit, we help wedding photographers focus more on their craft by doing the editing for them. To learn more about how we can help wedding photography businesses succeed, check out our pricing plans.

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