Snap happy: Wedding photography no longer just for one photographer

A Special Advertising Feature of the Alexandria Times by Chris Teale

In the past, wedding photography was relatively straightforward. On the day itself, the married couple would assemble for a series of photographs with the wedding party, the film would be sent away to be developed and then return later on in a physical album to be saved for posterity.

But in recent years, the role of the wedding photographer has evolved so that they do not just take formal photos, but are often asked to take more candid shots during the celebration, often of more than just the wedded couple. These are now more than just capturing the happy couple and their guests, but about capturing moments during the day that depict the joyous occasion.

Meanwhile, guests become photographers in their own right thanks to the proliferation of smartphones with powerful cameras, social media and selfie sticks, which add a whole new dimension to the wedding experience.

Even as photography started to grow in importance in the late 19th century, it was only in the 1880s when having a photographer at a wedding to produce an album of photographs began to be more common. The equipment was very bulky and pictures were hard to light effectively, so until that point a couple might pose for a photo before or after their ceremony as opposed to during.

But as the technology improved, a wedding photographer became more common, and it gradually became the norm to include photographs of other guests and even sometimes the gifts they had brought the married couple.

After World War II, the idea of capturing the whole event of a wedding started to take hold, brought on in part by the so-called “wedding boom” that took place at the end of hostilities. Cameras were far more portable at this point with a compact flashbulb, so photographers could be far more creative and not be tied down by bulky gear.

In the 1970s, things changed again thanks in part to the rise in disposable and instant cameras and of video recorders that allowed the whole event to be documented with relative ease. Guests could thus take their own photos over the course of the entire event, and while the official photographer would still be present, there was a definite shift away from relying on one person.

Perhaps the evolution of smartphones and their widespread use is a natural extension of the disposable cameras that were found on tables at the wedding reception, except now guests do not have to wait to have film developed. The widespread use of such technology for photography and other parts of the wedding day have led some couples to have an unplugged wedding, where everyone is instructed to leave their electronic gadgets behind and simply enjoy each other’s company.

Today, the traditional approach to wedding photos is still prevalent, while a more photojournalistic approach is in widespread use too. Often, photographers use a hybrid approach between those two, reflecting a desire by many couples to have a traditional aspect, but keep a more modern feel.

In the photojournalistic approach, the guests become almost as important as the marrying couple, as they are snapped sipping champagne, laughing at a toast or tucking in to wedding cake. These candid moments are captured with the photographer blending seamlessly into the background of the occasion.

Beyond that, there is plenty of room for customization. At some wedding receptions, guests might be invited to delve into a box filled with props like false moustaches, oversized glasses and Venetian-style face masks, all for posing in whacky photos in a portable photo booth. With the growth of timelapse photography, guests can show their personalities even more by playing to the camera and seeing multiple photos taken in a sequence.

Meanwhile, more offbeat weddings are celebrated as ceremonies, receptions and all other facets of the celebration become highly personalized. And while eloping isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, having a photographer on hand to document the moment is becoming more prevalent.

And it is not only the wedding day itself that plays host to professional photography. More and more, couples are having engagement photos taken, celebrating the fact that they are soon to be married.

With the continued growth of smartphones, social media and accompanying technology, the days of one collection of photographs from a wedding may well be over. Now, guests have the freedom to document the event as they see fit without being reliant on a professional to capture every single moment.

And while unplugged weddings may continue to be popular among those who wish to eschew technology, things will never be the same again.

A Special Advertising Feature of the Alexandria Times