Wedding photography is a subset of photography that focuses on capturing events and activities associated with weddings. Other forms of portrait photography of the couple before the wedding day, such as a pre-wedding engagement session, might be included (photographs are later used for the couple wedding invitations). The photographer(s) will attempt to provide portrait photography as well as “‘documentary photography”‘ coverage on the wedding day to document the various wedding activities and rituals.
Since Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s invention of the photographic art form in 1826, the tradition of wedding photography has developed and expanded, much like the technology of photography itself. In reality, the 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert may have been recreated for the camera in an early photograph taken 14 years after the event. In the early days of photography, however, most couples of modest means did not employ a photographer to document their wedding. Most citizens did not pose for formal wedding portraits until the second half of the nineteenth century. Rather, before or after a wedding, they could pose for a formal picture in their best attire. More couples began posing in their wedding attire in the late 1860s, and some even hired a photographer to come to the wedding site.
For the majority of the late nineteenth century, wedding photography was primarily a studio activity due to the bulky equipment and lighting problems. While technology has evolved over time, many couples will still only pose for a single wedding portrait. Around the 1880s, wedding albums became more popular, and the photographer would occasionally include the wedding party in the photos. Frequently, the wedding presents will be set out and photographed as well.Photograph of a wedding party from the Rainy River District, circa 1905.
Westmount, Montreal, 1945: A newlywed couple stands in front of a church with their wedding photographer.
Color photography became possible in the early twentieth century, but it was still unreliable and costly, so most wedding photography was still done in black and white. Following WWII, the idea of photographing the wedding “case” was born. Photographers will often turn up at weddings using film roll technology and enhanced lighting techniques available with the advent of the compact flash bulb, and then attempt to sell the images later. Despite the low-quality images that often resulted, the rivalry forced studio photographers to begin working on location.
On the beach, a modern-day wedding photographer takes photos.
Professional studio photographers can initially carry a large amount of bulky equipment, limiting their ability to capture the entire event. After the ceremony, even “normal” images were more often staged. The more modern approach to filming the entire wedding event began developing into the tradition we know today in the 1970s, including a more “Documentary photography” type of photography.
Photographers preferred colour negative film and medium-format cameras, especially those made by Hasselblad, during the film period. Many more weddings are now photographed with digital SLR cameras, as the digital convenience allows for easy identification of lighting errors and instant analysis of innovative approaches.
Despite this trend, some photographers tend to shoot with film because they prefer the aesthetic, while others believe that negative film gathers more detail and has a smaller margin for exposure error than digital technology. Although this is valid in some cases, the exposure latitude built into a camera’s native Raw image format (which allows for more under- and over-exposure than JPEG) varies by manufacturer. Both types of RAW have more exposure latitude than slide film, which is the standard comparison for digital capture.
the launch of ILC (interchangeable lens cameras) mirrorless cameras including the Fuji XT-2 and Sony A7 series changed the game for PJ wedding photographers. With the release of the Nikon D5, it is now possible to capture images in extremely low light without using a flash.
Wedding photography is supported by organisations such as the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP), the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC), the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI), and the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA). The WPJA honours the best of wedding photojournalism with an annual Photographer of the Year Award.
The Master Photographers Association (MPA), the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP), the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP), and the National Photographic Society are only a few of the organisations in the UK (The NPS).Professional associations have varying standards and criteria, but membership also means that a photographer is insured.Technical associations provide members with preparation, competition, and encouragement, as well as directory services to assist with marketing and convention planning.
The use of remote triggers and flash synchronisation has advanced technology. Wedding photographers will now fly light while still being able to use innovative lighting.
Wedding photographers are hired by couples who are getting married to catch the moments of their special day on video. They depend on these experts to be on time, attentive, and comprehensive – there are no do-overs! Pre-wedding meetings and post-wedding work are conducted in an office setting, but the ceremonies themselves carry photographers to indoor and outdoor locations such as houses, churches, hotels, parks, and other ceremony and reception locations. Similarly, the date and time of each wedding determines the work schedule, with weekends and evenings being the most popular options. The high volume of weddings that take place during the spring and summer months makes those months particularly busy for photographers. Although there are many photography agencies that provide services, many wedding photographers work on their own.
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