Can I tentatively say that it’s good to be back? That we seem to be rattling through an almost normal year in weddings and that we can settle back into focusing on thriving and not just surviving. Instead of just doing our best in the circumstances at the time, can we get back to being creative?
Not only have most restrictions due to the pandemic been lifted but also in our time away from the industry being fully open there’s been some incredible innovation in the industry. That’s in both cameras and in what happens after, our workflow.
Speaking to one of my mentoring students yesterday who is launching her wedding photography business in 2022, she was saying that she’s not one bit sad about never having to know the pain of not having AI tools like ImagenAI and Narrative Select in her workflow.
Cameras have never had more tools to help you as well – focus tracking, spirit levels, connectivity – it’s a golden age where we can spend more time on creativity rather than all the tasks involved in running our businesses.
So with all this lovely extra time that we can devote to our shooting, what are we doing? I often wondered in times of lockdown if there would be a renaissance after. History has proved that times of collective stress often lead to times of collective resurgence.
So as the dust settles what are we seeing that’s exciting and out at the forefront of what’s fashionable in wedding photography?
TREND #1: DIRECT FLASH
Now, this technique is far from anything new, it’s been around since flashguns started being produced in the 1950s. It really came into its own in the 1970s when clubs were at their most decadent. Look at the work of someone like Rose Hartman who shot in Studio 54 including that iconic photo of Bianca Jagger riding a horse in the club on her birthday.
So what is it? By direct flash, I mean on-camera or close to camera flash pointed directly at the subject. It creates a blast of light on them, a hard shadow and the background will often darken. So it can be great for pulling your subject out of a scene and it can be flattering as it creates a hard even light on the face with nice definition around the jawline. It makes everyone look like a celebrity, perhaps because it is also synonymous with the high society party pictures that appear in the back of publications like Tatler.
Why is it suddenly fashionable in wedding photography? We can probably blame the Beckhams for this. When their firstborn, Brooklyn married US heiress Nicola Peltz earlier this year some of the first images released were direct flash shots by their photographer German Larkin. Most renowned for shooting backstage at prestigious fashion shows for the likes of Vogue magazine and inside the Met Gala, German applied the same technique to the wedding photos and in doing so kept the glamour ramped up. Getting someone who is not a wedding photographer, leads nicely to the next trend that I want to talk about – non-wedding photography at weddings.
TREND #2 – NON-WEDDING WEDDING PHOTOS
The first time we might have encountered this trend was when Kanye married Kim. If you are thinking who and who, you really need to catch up on your celebrities. I’m talking about US rapper Kanye West and Kim from the infamous Kardashians who married in Italy in 2014 with one 22-year-old Brit Conor McDonnell as their wedding photographer. Conor, who had never shot a wedding before got a call the day before the wedding when Annie Leibovitz pulled out. More used to shooting live music gigs, Conor has said that they gave him free rein to shoot anything. His shot of the couple kissing in front of a huge wall of flowers became the most liked photo on Instagram that year but he himself posted more candid moments, like the couple with their baby.
Whilst we’ve only had a glimpse at a few photos from that wedding, we did recently get to see a range of images from the wedding of US actress Lena Dunham to musician Luis Felber in London. Over 40 images were published in Vogue and we are treated to a very intimate look inside a celebrity wedding. This time, the photographer was Jonny Ruff, who is better known as a British filmmaker. His photos have a refreshing irreverence to them. They are just photos at a wedding rather than wedding photos. The wedding just happens to have superstar elements like Taylor Swift as a bridesmaid. They document the day from the inside and they show a great sense of celebration, love, plus rock n roll. I cannot look at them enough times. It reminds me of the very first wedding that I shot. I guess I wasn’t a wedding photographer then either.
I find myself recently thinking more and more about how can I get this sense of non-wedding photos, in the ones I take after more than 20 years of shooting weddings? All this time, we’ve been trying to elevate how these days looked but when you let go of that and just take pictures of everything around you without worrying about it all being perfect, could that be truly magic?
TREND #3 – TIKTOK/REELS AT WEDDINGS
Love it or loathe it, this app is currently huge for both Gen Z and Millenials. If they are checking in on it often, then they are aware of what’s trending on there. Often it is content that encourages interaction with others and when do groups get together? Yes, at weddings. So we are now seeing TikTok content being created at weddings. If your clients are into it, then maybe you need to be too. Now if that terrifies you, don’t panic. You do not have to be a performer, lip-syncing your way through a wedding. Instead, think about bringing some of the elements into how you present your work. Showing a slideshow of images set to music on your social media can be an impactful way to present your work. It’s never been easier to create these using apps or my gallery provider Pic-Time has these built-in.
Or how about mixing in some video elements? These could be filmed on your phone, featuring Behind The Scenes clips on how you work or switch your camera over to movie mode and grab some footage. If it’s just for social media then you don’t have to go all out but later you can merge the moving images with your still ones to create some impactful content. Social media can feel like it’s so fast-paced that it’s overwhelming but think about this – last week one of the photographers in my Facebook group said that the wedding he shot that week had a person there, employed just to create TikToks and Instagram Reels!
TREND #4 – EDITORIAL STYLE WEDDING IMAGES
This one has been building for a while now and I’d say it’s the biggest trend in wedding photography this year. Photographers are taking influence from fashion magazines when it comes to shooting weddings. So this means photographers are directing images with posing that looks intentionally like high-end fashion spreads, and the emphasis is on the style of a wedding and what the couple is wearing.
This trend might be driven by the fact that we had no real weddings to shoot for quite some time and in their absence, we saw a lot of styled wedding shoots. Away from the restraints of paying clients, photographers and stylists have been creating style-driven shoots that are now influencing how real wedding photography looks.
That’s my round-up of the trends that I’m seeing but, of course, you might have noticed some of your own or maybe you are even creating one.