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  • Writer's pictureGiovanni Rusconi

The evolution of wedding photography

Your wedding is a special moment that you want to remember for many years to come . You want to be able to look back and clearly remember every detail, whether large or small. This is why having a skilled wedding photographer capture your special day is important and, what's more, it's something that needs to be planned well in advance.

But what we want to highlight here is that the modern concept of wedding photography is a fairly recent practice.

The evolution of wedding photography has been long and gradual.

The history and evolution of wedding photography

Wedding photography dates back to the early 1800s . Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are said to have been the first couple to have their photo taken at a wedding. This precedent helped the tradition follow.

Photography began to take off in the late 1800s. At the time, photos were printed on small sheets of metal, known as daguerreotypes . Continuous inventions and processes changed and built on this style. However, the technology still remained cumbersome, slow and expensive. Because of the price, wedding photos were exclusive to the rich .

The first wedding photography was limited to a studio . Couples would dress up in beautiful clothes and enter before or after the wedding. Towards the end of the 19th century, newlyweds began to wear wedding attire for their photos . Once camera technology became more portable, photographers could finally capture the wedding on location .

For a long time, photos were taken in black and white. Color was not reliable until about the mid-1900s. Early color photographs faded and blurred, resulting in poor image quality.

Agfa , a German company, developed a new model of color film in 1936 . All subsequent films were then based on this model.

World War II then saw the advent of portable camera technology. Cameras, by that time, had film and included a flash . Suddenly, it became much easier to take photos outside of the studio. Additionally, the end of the war kicked off the wedding photography industry due to the increase in weddings. Smaller, more portable cameras have even made it possible to take more photos and capture more details. Years later, digital photography would arrive on the scene and bring even more innovation.

All these advances have paved the way for a new era of photography and styles .

The styles of wedding photography

As photography has evolved and grown over the years, the styles that have followed have also evolved. Three styles in particular have emerged over time: traditional , photo-journalism and mixed .


Posed shots are the main focus of this approach. Photographers take more time to capture specific moments just right. They also have a more important role during the day. The photographer directs the couple on what to do to take certain shots. This style works well if you have a list of particular shots you want to take on your wedding day.


This style takes a documentary approach to capture details, candid shots and everything in between. With a wide variety of images, which tell the story of the day . As the day progresses, the photographer works in the background to photograph the ceremony and reception. If you don't want to think about photography much throughout the day, this style might be a great choice for you.


As the name suggests, this approach is a blend of the two styles above . Combining elements from both styles allows for creativity without losing the classic, iconic shots of your big day. This approach provides many of the typical posed shots while also preserving detail. Additionally, with the use of digital photography and editing software, wedding photographers can add an extra creative touch to their photos.

Wedding photography today

While the fundamentals of weddings have remained unchanged, many aspects of weddings have remained, including wedding photography.

Once upon a time, wedding photography was a formal affair. Your grandparents' and great-grandparents' wedding photos will likely be incredibly formal , often with the bride and groom in almost standardized poses, outside the church or in the background. While these shots are still popular, wedding photography has moved away from this formality.

Now, wedding photography is much more natural , rather than a checklist of essential poses and shots, photographers fluidly capture the day as it unfolds.

Document the day for what it is

As mentioned, the general imagery is progressively moving away from static and posed photography, in favor of styles that truly capture the essence of the day . While the bulky cameras of the past have been resigned to wedding photography in cramped studios for wedding shoots after the ceremony itself, a lot has changed thanks to modern portable cameras.

Only recently have we seen the shift to documentary-style photography, which captures candid shots of the bride and groom and their guests at every stage of their special day, from preparation to the first dance. This would never have been possible without technological progress, previously limited by film cameras. Photographers can now take and store an almost infinite amount of photos on a single memory card.

This change benefits the entire image acquisition process. Not to mention that, while photographers once worried about small details (like the position of the bouquet or that of the bridesmaids) imperfect photos are now desired by couples. Of course, this doesn't mean you want a bad photograph, far from it.

Rather, couples now appreciate quirky shots that show their day for what it truly is, whether it's the bride giggling during the ceremony or younger guests having fun playing with each other.

Humor enters the picture

This brings us to our next point: couples actively look for humor in their wedding photos . While no couple wants to appear overly frivolous on their big day, there is a growing preference for casual shots alongside more serious and classic ones.

Examples of this type of shot that you may recognize include groomsmen holding up the bride or bridesmaids posing under the bride's veil. Some couples might even adopt some “ props ” to increase the playfulness: such as boxes that reproduce Instagram or Facebook posts, comic-shaped gadgets with funny writings, and things like that.

These little quirks are becoming increasingly popular as ways to capture the bride and groom's personality and the overall vibe of the day. The shots are often what the bride and groom look back on fondly after the day is over.

Fantastic places and amazing photos

Of course, there is a serious side to wedding photography. Getting married is one of the most important days of your life, so you will naturally also want to get all those romantic shots that show the love and respect you have for each other.

Once again, new technology has raised the potential of capturing these shots. Camera drones, for example, can be used to get aerial shots of the bride and groom in a large setting, capturing the beauty of their location.

Ultimately, though, these dramatic, visually stunning shots couldn't be created without the right backgrounds . For this reason, couples are increasingly choosing the location of their wedding based on the type of location it offers from this point of view, causing an increase in weddings in areas that enjoy breathtaking views .

A memory is forever

Since the world of photography left film behind, the availability of different formats has gradually increased. The rise of digital photography means, among many things, that brides and grooms now also have the option of a traditional wedding album saved in the cloud, on a USB stick or, however, saved on a digital drive. Typically, these modern formats come at a low cost, helping couples save some money without compromising photo quality and increasing their chances of keeping a copy of their shots longer over time .

The advantages of digital, therefore, are not limited to making the photographer's work easier and use more practical for the end customer. Maintaining saved data is also much safer and more efficient.

As we've discussed, the world of wedding photography has evolved quite a bit over the years. Whether you prefer formal posed shots or more candid images, the important thing is to select a photographer who can beautifully capture the unfolding of your day and the memories created.

We at Wedding Photographers have fully embraced the change in our sector, trying to fully accommodate technological evolution and the changing trends and style preferences in the photography of wedding ceremonies.

We think that the world of photography never stops and that this continuous evolution requires an effort on the part of all professionals in the photographic field to keep up with its continuous transformation into something new and different, while remaining anchored to solid and immortal principles .

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