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Weddings, Wedding Photography and Wedding Photographers

Wedding photography is the photography by photographers of activities associated with weddings. It includes photographs of the couple before their marriage (for signature mounts, wedding invitations, announcements, or thank you cards) plus coverage of the wedding ceremony and reception. The wedding reception includes the wedding breakfast the name given to the first meal shared by the married couple. With the advent of civil weddings and civil partnerships non religious venues are now licensed by councils across the country. The venue for the wedding ceremony and wedding reception are often the same thus saving the wedding photographer from having to travel between the ceremony and reception locations. If a civil wedding license is granted the venue is also licensed for civil parnerships, often referred to as same sex weddings. Photographers not photographing weddings in churches are not restricted to taking the photographs at the wedding venue. Many will take the couple and often some or all of the guests to locations nearby especially if there is beautiful countryside or a beach location that will give the wedding photographs some different backdrops. For many professional photographers weddings is the sole or primary photography service. Many photographers do not have studios and prefer to concentrate on photography on location; wedding photography has therefore become a very popular sideline business for many amateur photographers.

Wedding Photography - Changes

Like the technological advances in photography, wedding photography has grown and evolved and since the invention of the photographic art form in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. In fact, an early photograph, recorded some 14 years later, may be a recreation for the camera of the 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert. During the early days of photography, most couples did not hire a photographer to record the actual wedding itself due to cost. Until the latter half of the 19th century, most people would pose for formal wedding photos before or after the wedding in their best clothes. In the late 1860s, more couples started posing in their wedding clothes or sometimes hired a photographer to come to the wedding venue.

Wedding Photographers did not attend weddings

Photography equipment was bulky (some photographers would say it still is) and lighting issues meant that wedding photography was largely a studio practice for most of the late 19th century. Over time technology improved though many couples still might only pose for a single wedding photograph which would be more of a wedding portrait either at the wedding or a photography studio. Wedding albums started becoming more popular towards the 1880s, when the photographer would perhaps include the wedding party in the photographs. Often the wedding gifts would be laid out and photographed as well. At the beginning of the 20th century, color photography was available, but was still expensive and unreliable, so most wedding photography was still shot in black and white. The idea of capturing the wedding "event" started after the Second World War. Using roll film technology and improved lighting techniques available with the invention of the compact flash bulb, unlike the cumbersone magnesium flashes that were explosions, photographers would often return to a wedding in an attempt sell the photos later. Despite the initial low quality of the wedding photographs, this competition forced studio photographers to start working on location.

Creative Wedding Photographers

Photographers have access to constantly improving photography technology with the use of remote triggers and flashes which are very compact and are ideal for taking the studio lighting out on location. Wedding photographers are now able to take advantage of portable lighting and have the ability to use creative lighting whilst they are on location with no electricity supply for example on a beach whilst photographing a wedding. Studio lighting can be extremely powerful and can be used by wedding photographers on location to create very dramatic photographs provided the photographer has the necessary experience and the vision to envisage the image and then create it.

Wedding Photography from the 1970s

Professional studio photographers might bring much bulky equipment, which limited their ability to record the entire event. Even candid or reportage photographs were more often staged after the ceremony. In the 1970s, the more modern approach to recording the entire wedding event started evolving into the practice as we know it today, including a more documentary style of photography often referred to as photojournalism

Wedding Photographers then and now

During the era of photographic film, photographers favoured colour negative film and medium-format cameras, especially by Hasselblad. The cameras tended to be manual meaning that light readings were taken and the camera set accordingly for each photograph and even the focussing was manual. Photographers would often take about 60 photographs (5 rolls of film) if covering the wedding up to the start of the wedding breakfast. Today, weddings are photographed with professional digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras. The convenience provides quick detection of lighting mistakes and allows photographs to be reviewed immediately. It's worth noting that wedding photographers should always have back-up equipment at the wedding to be on the safe side. Many wedding photographers shoot with more than one camera and will have a telephoto lens fixed to one of the camera bodies thus speeding up the photography process. Cameras often cost several thousand pounds so people will understand why a photographer may charge more than a competitor

The advent of digital photography

Photographers will often capture photographs in RAW format; the level of data captured (the range of exposure) far exceeds that of film. Many of the digital laboratories now offer post production correction of colour, contrast and density of the printed output from a photographer's digital camera equipment. For many photographers this is a time saving facility but for many they prefer to do everything in-house in order to retain their quality and style of output.