Wedding photography has become an integral part of the modern wedding. Would-be couples are often willing to spend their money on professional and renowned wedding photography services in order to make their big day memorable with a classy wedding album and video. Although wedding photography has truly taken off only in the last few decades, it is not exactly a recent phenomenon. It goes back almost all of the way to the initial days of photography in the mid-19th century.
Early Wedding Photography
In the early days of wedding photography, the potential settings and shots were extremely limited due to the technical limitations of early cameras. The high cost associated with photography in those days meant that only the very rich could afford professional wedding photographs.
All photographs of the bride and groom were taken in the photographer's studio. No outdoor shots, such as at the church or at the reception, were possible. The couple usually posed in the studio before or after the wedding ceremony wearing their best clothes, not in their wedding attires. This meant that there were no shoots of the bride's beautiful wedding gown.
By the 1860s, formal wedding photos at wedding venues – as well as photographs in the wedding clothes – became an occasional part of wedding photography. However, the bulky nature of photographic equipment in the 19th century meant that wedding photography was still primarily limited to the studios.
By the 1880s, wedding albums started becoming popular and wedding photography included photographs of the guests and wedding gifts.
20th Century to Modern Day
Although the introduction of color photography in early 20th century made color wedding photographs possible, its high complexity and cost kept color photos limited. Only wealthy citizens could afford them.
The development of film roll technology, high quality flashes and the vastly increased portability of the cameras in the years after World War Two revolutionized wedding photography. Studio photography was largely replaced by on-site wedding photographs. This led to more photos of the wedding ceremony and guests. There was a significant increase in the number of photos taken. During this time, however, most seemingly-candid wedding photographs of this era were in fact carefully staged to ensure perfect lighting, poses and focus.
The documentary-style wedding photography that we are familiar with today became popular in 1970s. The wedding photographers sought to creatively capture and chronicle the entire wedding ceremony in detail.
The rapid advancement in digital cameras, image sensors, auto-focus systems and portable quality video capture in the last two decades has led to present day wedding photography that captures a couple's big day in its full glory and vividness.