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Brief history of wedding photography

Wedding photography was not so much different from classic portrait photography until the middle of the last century. The first well-known wedding photo series was made fourteen years after the birth of photography in 1840, on the occasion of the wedding of Queen Victoria. At that time, photography was uncommon and available for a few privileged, so most married did not take photographs on their wedding.

Until the second half of the 19th century, people did not make photographs on the wedding day, they take photographs in their best dress and posed formally in days before or after the wedding instead. At the end of the 1860’s, it came to fashion to make wedding photos on the wedding day and sometimes photographers were called to the venue.

Due to the enormous size of equipment and lighting problems, wedding photography was primarily a studio work until the beginning of the twentieth century. Later, despite the advances in technology, most of the clients still chose to pose and only sometimes called a photographer for the wedding dinner. Wedding albums came into vogue at the very end of the 19th century.

Color technology was already available at the beginning of the twentieth century, but it was used by very few professionals because of its price and unreliability, so photographers for a long time used only black and white technology for weddings.

The new approach of photography representing a wedding as a special event was a new concept and emerged after World War II. By then, roll film and the compact flashlight were invented, which dramatically expanded the lighting potential. At that time, photographers having no studios (typically press photographers) simply appeared on the events (without commission) and later sold their photos.

This fact forced the studio photographers to go to work on location. This often led to carrying of cumbersome studio technology, so often the “candid” moments were actually set scenes after the ceremony.

In the 70’s, mostly thanks to technological innovations, full capture of the wedding events has become ordinary, as we know it today. This trend is called “documentary” wedding photography. As one of today’s modern wedding trends, wedding photojournalism (term was first used by an American photographer, Dennis Reggie) is one of the dominant style trends.


There are two main approaches, namely traditional (classic) and photojournalistic wedding photography. Classical wedding photography is based on a strong interaction between the photographer and his subjects and leads to classically posed depictions.

The photojournalist style with the tools of press photography focuses mainly on captured moments with minimal interaction.

A few years ago, on the basis of traditional wedding photography and equipped with new stylistic features, a new, third trend is unfolding. This is not really a trend but a collection of trends, more based on fashion and lifestyle photography. These are called contemporary wedding photography.

(There is a fourth trend in the Far East that is completely strange from the styles that can be referred to as Western styles. The point is that couples produce studio photographs that result a couple of glamorous series in a very varied fashion by changing clothes, makeup, hair, mood and themes.)

We can say that wedding photography is in constant change, getting a lot of of impact from global market,  countless talented photographers and cultures makes it the most colorful area of applied photography.

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