As The Smartphone Generation Get Hitched - Wedding Photography Comes Of Age
The old stalwarts are still there of course, dress, cake, reception drinks, head dress, bridesmaid’s dresses, hats, flowers, seating plan, wedding venue, menu for wedding breakfast, church or other place of marriage, and so on. Nowadays, however, there are probably a few more entries on the list; wedding favours, chocolate fountain, traditional sweetie barrow, photo-booth with fancy dress costumes, to name but a few.
The more observant amongst you will have noticed that I’ve (deliberately) missed one out. Have you guessed what it is yet? Yes, it’s the wedding photographer, the person charged with the massive responsibility of recording the whole event for posterity.
So why the special treatment for our snap-happy friends?
The answer is really just another question - in an age where images follow us around on Facebook, languish on Smartphones, become attached to emails, get uploaded to online galleries and, seemingly only very rarely, actually get printed out onto good old fashioned paper, what can the wedding photographer really add to the occasion?
Do people still congregate at the bride’s home and gather round the elaborately decorated wedding album, eagerly turning the tissue paper lined pages and cooing at the sugary images thereon?
Or do they just log into their Facebook accounts and view today's events at the pub, the strange bloke that your friend went out with on a blind date and the pictures of your boss misbehaving at the staff Christmas party, pausing only briefly to checkout the wedding that they went to last week, and which they remember very little of, due to the fact that they were terribly, terribly, drunk.
Images are ubiquitous now, we are surrounded by them, we cannot escape them and, if we are truthful, we don't’ really want to. We love to look at pictures and not just pictures of ourselves either.
So why then is there doubt about the role of the photographer at a wedding?
Wedding photographers are no less relevant to the days events than they ever were but their role has changed. They no longer stage an event, with meticulous posing of bride, groom, bridesmaids, best man, bride’s family , groom’s family and so on.
Instead they document an event. No more is it just a case of turning up for the ceremony and an hour or so at the reception afterwards, making sure of course to record the cutting of the cake. Now the photographer will cover the whole day in the same way that a news team would cover an event of national interest, such as a royal wedding.
It is likely that the stock photographs will still be taken but, as well as those, the photographer will record, in an much more informal way, the whole of the day in a way that is much more natural and flowing than was ever done just a few years ago.
Why Have The Times Changed So Dramatically?
Only a few years ago, a wedding photographer would most likely have been equipped with a large or medium format film camera. Each 2.25 inch square frame shot would have a fairly significant cost and would, therefore, have been carefully posed. Printing and mounting the photographs was also a time consuming and expensive business. For these reasons the number of images was often restricted to the “standard poses” and very little else.
Digital images, on the other hand, cost little or nothing to record and store. They can be easily retouched if required and only printed if really needed. The means of distribution has, of course, changed, alongside the means of capturing the image in the first place.
That isn’t to say that beautiful prints no longer exist. They do, of course, but other methods of distribution are equally as important and it isn’t really appropriate to mount countless images of “A Day In The Life of a (future) Wife” into an album but rather it should be presented to the world as a digital gallery that can be dipped into as required and distributed to friends and family at little or no cost.
So when planning a wedding, don’t be tempted into thinking that you’ll get plenty of suitable shots from friends with their smartphones and that a photographer is unnecessary. You won’t and they’re not. Take advantage of the fact that technology has liberated the image maker and enabled them to give you a lasting way to remember the day to remember. All of it.