There are a lot of terms that apply to photographic styles at weddings: traditional, photo journalistic, artistic, and contemporary are all styles that photographers use to describe themselves, and to some extent, tell you how they will interact with you on your wedding day.
Traditional photographers emphasize classically arranged group portraits, and probably have a standard group of shots that they take at every wedding. The work of good traditional photographer is beautiful, but because their process is timely, and their method painstaking, some couples find traditional portraits dull and slow-moving.
Photo Journalists take a different approach - they document your wedding day without interacting with it. This is perfect for couples who want completely candid coverage, and who naturally look perfect in every image. The downside of this is that without some direction, many of the people in your wedding pictures might be talking (or even eating), and unless you’re extremely photogenic, you may not like the way you appear in these types of images.
Most wedding photographers call themselves photo journalists, not because they have a background as a war correspondent (they probably don’t), but because documenting a day without interaction requires very little experience or training. Great photo journalists are masters with their cameras, and almost never miss a shot, but beware of novice wedding shooters who may not have the skills needed for your wedding day.
Artistic photographers capture the beauty available at weddings, and often create exceptional images from flowers, table settings, and other details at your wedding. Their angles are often unusual, which yields some dramatic and unconventional pictures, though you may not want all the images.
Contemporary photographers attempt to blend the best of the above styles with a faster pace. If they’re skilled, they can handle, arrange, and group shots quickly, blend in with your guests at the reception, and capture creative detail shots throughout the day, giving you the best of all the styles. When they’re unskilled, you’ll get the worst of all the styles. Contemporary photographers may also describe themselves as fun, but unless you like their personality that might just be a marketing word.
There are pros and cons to each of these approaches, and you’re likely to meet photographers from all of the styles mentioned. There are less traditional photographers working weddings now, at least partially because it can take years to learn posing techniques, and become a master with lighting, but also because there are less couples wanting to be heavily posed and manipulated on their wedding day.
Some couples know right away what style of photographer they want, while others won’t know what they want until they see it. This is totally fine. Any photographer you interview should be able to show you dozens of weddings they’ve shot, so that you can develop a good idea about the type of images you’ll have from your wedding.
And remember - this is a fun choice to make! Don’t get stressed out about the labels - just look at a lot of portfolios, and you’ll develop a feel for how you want your wedding pictures to look.