Wedding Photography Editing Trends | 2017's Orange Hipsters

I've never been one to hold my tongue when having an opinion about something (and I always have one of those), but I've been sort of watching this situation unfold for a while and I'm not going to pretend that it's awesome. I'm now in my 6th wedding season, and I've seen my fair share of trends within the industry. I started seeing "dark and moody/film inspired/matte" photos probably around 2013 and they are ALL THE RAGE right now. I see it everywhere. My Instagram feed looks like a bunch of orange zombies in wedding clothes. 

Lots of photographers will NOT like what I have to say. Photographers are not my intended audience for this particular blog, so if you have time to get upset about what a small potatoes Oklahoma photographer has to say, then maybe you should put your time and energy into your own projects. This is my warning to people who have yet to hire a photographer. Ask yourself if you will still like the editing style in 10 years and if you'll be happy with your photos. 

When I speak with prospective clients or if I refer people for dates I'm already booked, I ALWAYS point out differences in style. I tell them to pay attention to things like color tones and post processing. There are SO many amazing photographers that are killing colors, adding unnecessary grain, and decreasing sharpness and contrast. It's 2017. Camera technology is pretty darn amazing. I LOVE sharp and clean images, and I know the limits of my equipment to make sure that I'm exposing images correctly. 

I've always stuck to more or less clean and classic edits, with a few tonal adjustments changing in my style over the past few years. I'm going to give you a few examples of some trends that I've seen since joining the industry. Some of these are laughably bad, just a warning. All photos are mine and I'll show you the differences in the edits. 


In 2011/2012, pee colored skies were so trendy. I'm not sure what the motivation was for this look, perhaps trying to make images look filmy, but it was so bad. I had a friend call me in tears after getting back her wedding photos because they were so yellow. 

pee colored skies-1.jpg


Next we also had some dutch angles with heavy vignettes. This was really popular going way back, probably 2005 or so. I still see some photographers do this on occasion. That crooked photo makes it super artsy (it doesn't). Notice the really heavy dark edges and the oversmoothed skin. 


Next up matte edits became really popular. This was achieved with adjusting the tone curve of the image so that the highlights and shadows are flattened and have very little contrast. Lots of Instagram filters did this to images as well. Many of these images were achieved using VSCO presets. They desaturated certain colors and added extra grain to the image. This was probably circa 2013/14. Some of these are still used today. To me, these images just look heavy and gritty. 


Next up we have where we are today. There's a gigantic Facebook group called Looks Like Film and most people are using variations of LXC presets. They might start with the preset and then tweak it, or sometimes they just slap it on and call it good. 

Basically, what's happening is these edits are heavily desaturating green tones, to the point they look grey. Some of them boost skin tones heavily and they look very orange. Most of them look dark/underexposed, and there's also tons of grain added so they look extra gritty. It is NOT my jam, clearly. I'm going to show you a few examples of what I'm talking about here. 

To me, honestly, some of them aren't completely terrible, but it's not timeless at all. Why on earth would you want to kill the gorgeous greens? Also, skin should not look like that on a bright sunny day. 

Notice here how the reds become dull and orange, the greens are gone, and the skin looks sallow.

This one? No. Just no. It's so desaturated it looks like selective color. I made someone mad in a Facebook group last week using this example when I said "nobody should pay money for this." Remember 15 years ago when it was cool to have part of the image in color and the rest black and white? It just looks tacky and dated now. 

This one is the worst, IMO. I photographed a destination wedding in Costa Rica, and I cannot imagine shooting in such a beautiful place and then making all the foliage turn freaking brown. Ick! Notice how the photos is essentially greyscale except their orange skin and her weirdly desaturated bouquet. This is the most face punchable offense of them all. 

Let's not forget black and white. I realize not everyone likes black and white, I personally edit about 10% of my images in B&W and I love how it can bring out the emotion when done right. I like them to be crisp and clear. The LXC black and whites have no black and no white. It's just grey and grey. 

And there you have it. As with most trends, I do expect this to eventually go away. This one is particularly bad, because we have the capabilities to create images that showcase real colors and are crisp and sharp. I think this look works better in some locations than others, it's particularly popular in the PNW and Colorado areas, but people are doing it everywhere. If you are a bride or groom looking to hire a photographer, consider longevity of the editing style when making your decision. 

Latest Reads

I've been meaning to share some great books with you for quite a while. I received a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and I made it my goal to read 20 fiction and 20 nonfiction books in 2016. I am probably a little bit behind schedule, but I've definitely read more than I have in years and it's a great way to unwind after a day of editing. Here's a few recent reads...

The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins- I bought this book over Christmas break and I read it in an afternoon and could not put it down! If you like Gone Girl, you'll love this book. It's basically like drunk amnesia. Rachel's husband had an affair and married the other woman. Every day, Rachel takes the train into the city and goes past her old neighborhood to basically creep on her ex and the new woman. She sees several things as she passes daily. While she struggles to remember a lot of details due to her drinking, she does remember seeing SOMETHING after a woman goes missing. This book had such a great storyline and a very unexpected twist at the end. It's being made into a movie set to release this October and Rachel will be played by Emily Blunt. I can't wait! 

Blood Defense by Marcia Clark- If the name doesn't sound familiar, Marcia Clark was the prosecutor in the OJ Simpson trial. While her writing won't win any kind of Pulitzer Prize, I like how she's pretty snarky and direct. It reminds me of the way I speak. Anyway, in the book Samantha is an attorney who is tight on money and takes a case where an LAPD detective is accused of a double homicide. The book has a lot of twists but makes for a fairly easy read. This is the first in a series featuring Samantha and I'll be buying the next two. 

Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso- This book is quite popular in the social media land for self employed women. In her autobiography, Sophia tells the story of how she was kind of a bit of a deviant with no real direction and then she started flipping vintage clothing on eBay. Her business is called Nasty Gal, and while she no longer runs her store on eBay, she's built a large empire in women's fashion. I don't know that modeling her business model would be plausible in today's world but she did figure out early on the strategies behind timing your listings, how good photos will make the biggest difference, and how working hard and believing in yourself will help you achieve great things. 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo- I'm not going to lie, this woman might be a sociopath. I didn't make it more than halfway through the book. While I love the idea of having a clean and tidy house all the time, that will never happen unless I euthanize my dogs and kick out my husband. While I think she offers a lot of practical advice like THROWING THINGS AWAY THAT YOU DON'T USE, she also tells you to thank your socks for providing warmth for your feet. No thanks Marie. She talks a lot about her obsessiveness with tidying as a child and how she threw out her family's possessions without their permission and she wipes down wet shampoo bottles after a shower because she doesn't like them to be dirty. She needs a therapist and probably a hug. If you have OCD, are a single female living in Japan with no hobbies, and believe that socks have feelings, this might be the book for you.