A century of romance…
Korea Artiz Studio alongside A-list celebrity designer 20/21 Yang Zi (Andy Yang) held an exhibition commemorating the evolution of wedding photography in the past 100 years. The exhibition themed “Light & Shadow” held in Beijing drew in thousands of exhibition goers. Just like a time capsule, guests were transported back a century ago witnessing how wedding photography was done through the period of wars, technological advancement and evolution of photo creativity. View how wedding photos were taken every decade for the past 100 years here.
The event saw heartfelt moments from the older generation couples as they reminisced on their younger days. Pop-up booths depicting elements and backdrops from the past were also exhibited and displayed for guests to have a sense of how wedding photography was like in the past and what are the struggles that our parents and older generation had to endure just to take a wedding portrait.
Artiz had done this not only to showcase the history but also commemorate the heritage and lineage of wedding photography in Asia. The rise of digital photography in the past 20 or so years has been revolutionary for couples. Digital cameras have changed how we think of quality in wedding photos.
However, couples tend to forget the importance of wedding photography and it’s meaning. It wasn’t all about the grand stage or ethereal gowns and majestic background landmarks in the photos. The centre and focus of any wedding photography between a couple is the love and emotion captured. Yes, the outfits were of importance, background and make-up too but it’s the cumulative effect of these elements that constitute the main point which is capturing the love and story behind each and every couple.
The history of wedding photography is shorter than the history of weddings, and even shorter still than the history of marriage. The art of photography is very delicate, with different aspects demanding different things from photographers.
What Is Wedding Photography?
A distinct aspect of photography, wedding photography takes an explicit turn, focusing on the events and activities surrounding a wedding ceremony. With portraits and various candid shots for pre-wedding shoots and actual-day photography, wedding photography as we know it today contains many aspects to explore.
History of Photography
Owing to the lack of advanced equipment, wedding photography for years was confined to studio photography with no printed, multiple photographs or albums. With time, we saw a shift to more technologically-advanced equipment, changing how photographs were produced and presented.
Even the style with which people took photographs was very different from what we know today. At first, the only “photo shoots” that happened were formal photos in their best clothes before or after the actual wedding. It was only in the late 1860s when more couples began to hire photographers to their actual wedding ceremonies.
From shooting styles to the new and exciting photo concepts that have emerged, to the technology itself, wedding photography truly has come a long way. Where before, photography served nothing but holding memories of one’s day in a tangible form, pre-commercial value times, their value has since changed.
Wedding Photography in the 1900’s
Heavily influenced by ruling cultures and traditions (e.g., the Manchu’s rule in China), the wedding garb was kept very traditional, and the photography style almost as a second thought. For example, the Late Qing Dynasty in China inspired the Manchu wedding dress with several variations that would later be made.
Wedding Photography in the 1910’s
Still predominantly a luxury purely reserved for the elite, photography started to gain popularity, with straight-faced wedding portraits being the go-to styles. Brides in this era were adorned in an elegant white gown, but would still spot their traditional red wedding dress beneath it.
Wedding photography in the 1920’s
By the 1920’s wedding photos were quite common, also beginning to get a little influence from western styles. Wedding garb remained demure and unglamorous.
Wedding photography in the 1930’s
Particularly in China, the 1930’s were something of a golden age in all things wedding-related. This era saw a boost in western-influenced styles in general, as well as photography styles.
Wedding photography in the 1940’s
By this time, wedding photos had earned the critical role of being part of getting married. Couples could choose to either have their traditional garments or the “white wedding gowns” from the West.
Wedding photography in the 1950’s
By the 50’s, marriage registrations and portraits had become a staple in getting married, with certain parts of Asia making them compulsory. Colored photographs were starting to emerge, though not very popular by then.
Wedding photography in the 1960’s
Couples discovered they could smile right about this time, with wedding portraits becoming less rigid, and their faces more relaxed and casual. Postures also dropped from the previous militant style, though these still only took place in studios.
Wedding photography in the 1970’s
Western-inspired dressing and photography made a comeback in the late 1970s, with the photography styles becoming more casual. Initially, professional studio photographers would bring a lot of bulky equipment, thus limiting their ability to record the entire event. So-called “candid” photos 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 Photography” style of photography.
Wedding photography in the 1980’s
By the 1980’s the long white gown of western standards had become highly popularized in most of Asia, with a bit of the Victorian touch with large flowing skirts and large shoulders.
Within that same era also emerged color photos, which were much different from what’s known today.
Wedding photography in the 1990’s
By the 1990’s everything was in color, and photographers also started to play around with their photography styles. Props began making features in these portraits, and venues were also more flexible by this time.
Wedding photography in the 2000’s
The 21st century finally arrived with more playful, artistic wedding photo styles, with couples appearing more relaxed and photographers more daring in their art.
At the beginning of the 20th century, color photography became available, but was still unreliable and expensive, so most wedding photography was still practiced in black and white. The concept of capturing the wedding “event” came about after the Second World War. Using film roll technology and improved lighting techniques available with the invention of the compact flash bulb, photographers would often show up at a wedding and try to sell the photos later. Despite the initial low quality photographs that often resulted, the competition forced the studio photographers to start working on location.
Wedding photography in the 2010’s
Recently, more and more couples have taken to bringing fashion styles back to their cultures, with less people following the Western trends. Photographers also went on to take a wild leap in their skills, with outdoor shots becoming more popular and taking away from the serious studio-style photography, to more documentary-style photography.
Evolution of The Technology
The existing technology played a large part in the overall style of photography over the years. For example, during the film era, photographers leaned more towards colour negative film and medium-format cameras, of the times. Though this style did go on to be adopted by photographers later on with digital SLR cameras, providing convenience of quick detection of lighting mistakes which allow creative approaches to be reviewed immediately.
The aesthetics of film photography, however, still remains a popular favorite, with less margins and exposure error compared to digital technology.
The introduction of interchangeable lens, mirrorless cameras like the Fuji XT-2 and the Sony A7 series in 2015 / 2016 proved a true revolutionary and game-changer for wedding photographers all over Asia. With the introduction of the Nikon D5 it is now possible to capture images in very low light, without the use of a flash.
Before the invention of photographic paper, photos were printed on glass plates, tin sheets, or copper sheets. When the paper form finally became popular, photographers were able to come up with color photographs, though the process remained largely unreliable (until the 1950’s) for professional photography. Colors shifted and faded after a short period of time, so photographers continued to work with black and white film.
While the progression of technology allowed new materials to be used, producing better films and chemicals to process them, wedding photography techniques remained much the same until the end of the Second World War. The actual event, as opposed to the couple and wedding party, became the main focus during the “wedding boom” post WWII.
With newly emerged, more portable photography equipment, photographers could now show up, shoot a wedding and have the photos ready to sell to the couple almost immediately. Some of the pioneers at this time were military trained photographers, but most were amateurs who took advantage of the portability of small, newly designed cameras.
Present-Day Photography Styles
Traditional wedding photographs typically were ones where couples would pose for the photographer before the wedding. The photographer would have to balance and concentrate on the lighting and the arrangement of the people in the photo, typically consisting of the bridal couple, their party and families.
Modern-day photographers have their work cut out for them coming up with new and exciting photography styles that are fresh, up-to-date, and edgy. Couples want more than pieces of paper with their faces on them, they expect photographers to capture the emotions behind every shot. With that said, different photographers adapt to different shooting styles, and here are some of the exciting options to choose from.
1. Artistic Wedding Photography
Going beyond capturing the moment, here the goal is not only documenting the wedding, but to narrating the event in a creative, emotive way. Both photographer and subject in question play significant roles in making this vision come to life, leaving not just beautiful photos, but unique and magical memories with an unmissable aesthetic feel.
2. Candid Wedding Photography
One of the most popular modern day photography styles, candid shots have taken over most albums, creating exquisitely captured, spontaneous shots. Taking a detour from the traditional and artistic styles of wedding photography, here, there’s no posing or manipulation from the photographer. Pictures are birthed by being in the moment and untainted facial expressions as the photographer moves around (as subtle as possible) the venue. These photographs will show lots of emotion and are great because they capture the people’s personalities.
3. Documentary Wedding Photography
Similar to candid photography, documentary photography has no posing or organized shots, simply capturing the story as it is. Photographers are tasked with transferring the beauty and authenticity of the love tale via a meaningful sequence of spontaneous shots. Think of the shots where all heads turn to face the back anticipating the entrance of the blushing bride. Timeless moments like these are what documentary photography is about.
4. Dramatic Wedding Photography
With dramatic photography, the secret is in finding the perfect lighting and dedicating post-production edits. The depth of the story-telling lies in the photographer’s tech skills and experience. The end products are easily identifiable with their cinematic flair with high contrasts, playing around with shadows, and a stellar way of bringing the focus solely on the subject. These are bold, strong and not work best for people who’re taken to being at center stage.
5. Drone Wedding Photography
The genius behind drones is the reason aerial photography is the big deal iit is today. The possibilities are endless when it comes to drone photography, with photographers flexing their skills in using the aerial view to capture the most gorgeous shots, taking in entire venues from a superior vantage point.
6. Film Wedding Photography
Retro, cinematic shots with their elaborate and glamorous colors, playing around with rich, bold, and delicate tones always end in exquisite shots. With all its imperfections in misplaced limbs and eye-shut moments, they narrate the story of imperfect humanity and perfect love in the most authentic way. Film photography is no doubt a lot more work, but going a little old-school will pay off when you see the end product.
7. Modern Wedding Photography
One of the most versatile and unbridled photography styles is the modern wedding photography. If there was ever a phrase to describe this style of photography, it’d be: pushing boundaries and thinking outside the box! Ever-changing wedding trends shape the style, so keeping photographers and their subjects on their toes. One of the popular examples includes having a second photographer to follow the couple separately, telling individual stories, later merging when the couple meets at the solemnization ceremony.
8. Photojournalistic Wedding Photography
The style of photography on Instagram is edgy for casual shots, but may not be as appealing to wedding couples. Following you around in a detailed story-telling pattern (similar to how journalism works), couples can have the photographer follow them around from their first cup of coffee on the morning of their big day, all the smiles and hugs leading up to the big moment. Photojournalism is all about clear and transparent documentation of each couple’s love story. The emphasis in contemporary photography strives to capture the story and atmosphere of the wedding, allowing the viewer to get an appreciation of the actual feeling of the wedding as opposed to looking through a gallery of practised poses.
9. Studio Photography
A fourth style that is popular in Asian countries, especially in China, is wedding studio photography, where usually, a couple books an appointment with the photographer at a studio for an in-studio or a location pre wedding shoot, with supporting hair and makeup stylist as part of the team. The couple chooses how many outfit changes they’ll have, and, based on the versatility of the studio they’re at, change backgrounds as they go along. This style does capture the warmth and personalities of the couple, but tend to also largely focus on the fashion aspect.
Wedding photography is a worthy investment and needs to be done right, by the right photographer. It is no longer about the number of photos; it’s about capturing your story in a way that will leave you with a collection of beautiful images that will last a lifetime.
Delegate works with trusted vendors such as Korea Artiz Studio, who are masters at capturing timeless moments that are free from the influence of time & place. Their mission has always been capturing the emotions and love of couples that sticks in the heart for a lifetime. For as long as love exists, their purpose remains. They specialize in portrait photography which captures the love story behind each couple through the use of imaginative conceptual visuals and background. Couples can also choose to fulfill their Korean-style drama fantasy wedding shoot in their studio in Singapore. Check them out on Delegate today!