History of Wedding Photography

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3wyl's avatar
The 1840s was the beginning of wedding photography. There was little commercial photography at the time for the wedding day itself. Instead, it was all about creating memories of the wedding day. As the photographic equipment was limited (i.e bulky and heavy), wedding photography remained in the studio for more than a century. In the 1800s, the only kind of wedding photography there was was a daguerreotype portrait on a tiny copper sheet.

With limited resources, photographers used glass plates, tin sheets, and copper sheets for their photographs. One of the very first couples were Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840. Couples who were poorer did not hire a photographer to record the actual wedding, or to capture them in pose for formal wedding photos. Instead, photographers captured them before or after their wedding, out of formal wedding dress and into their best formal dress. These were always taken in a controlled environment, like a studio, and the photographer would position the couple to achieve the most complementary and favourable poses so that the images were the best they could be. Lighting, dress, shadow and mood were all created by the work of the studio.

Towards the late 1800s and early 1900s, photographers began to take more photographs as exposure times and general difficulty were reduced. More poses could be attempted, and images of the entire wedding party could be taken too. This enabled the wedding album to be born.

At the beginning of the 1900s, production of colour photography was made possible, but the process was still unreliable and expensive until the 1950s for professional photography. Colours would shift, and fade in time, so photographers continued to work with black and white film. This remained the same until the end of WWII.

The idea of capturing the wedding event itself took place after WWII, during the 'wedding boom' when soldiers would return home to their loved ones. There were new, portable, roll film based cameras, 'film-reel technology’, and compact flashbulb lighting to allow the photographer to show up at a wedding, shoot many photographs with improved lighting, and then sell the photos to the happy married couple afterwards.

This new technique created competition for those working in the studio, and forced those photographers to start working on location. Photographers would try to imitate the studio settings by bringing heavy equipment and bulky lighting to wedding locations. Film was expensive, so there was only a limited amount that could be used for the wedding, but candid shots after the ceremony were still taken nevertheless.

The traditional wedding photography style would capture people in the studio, and this was the only style of wedding photography until the 1970s. However, as photographic equipment improved and things started to pick up with the new social revolution, a new style called wedding photojournalism was developed – a more informal style which captures the wedding as it unfolds.

The process of taking photographs became easier, allowing wedding photography to turn into a full-blown industry. Through the influence of press photographers who took less formal photos of celebrities and politicians, wedding photography was on a similar path itself as more candid moments were taken during wedding events. Moreover, digital photography presented new creative opportunities as they allow deeper coverage of the event with a virtually unlimited amount of photographs taken.

© 2013 - 2024 3wyl
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tanya3286's avatar
aww... that's a nice read.
I'm grateful for digital photography and its perks. It'd been such a shame to get married and have just a couple of pics or none at all taken... like it was waaay back in the day. How time flies and how fast technology progresses... :nod: