The art of wedding photography has evolved alongside photography itself since its invention by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826.
There is a famous wedding photo from as early as 1840 of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
For most in photography’s early days however, couples would not hire a photographer to record the wedding. It wasn’t until towards the end of the 19th century that people began to pose for formal wedding photos.
Between this time it was more commonplace for couples to have a photo taken in their best attire before or after their wedding.
Still, bulky equipment and poor lighting kept wedding photography as mostly a studio based event until the 20th century. As technology improved, couples began to go from posing for just a single wedding portrait to including shots from the wedding party in order to create a wedding album.
Although colour photography became available about 100 years ago, it was initially unreliable and of course expensive, so wedding photography was generally still carried out in black and white. Improved lighting techniques (the compact flash bulb) and film roll technology came in after the Second World War which led to weddings being captured as more of an ‘event’ than before. It wasn’t uncommon for photographers to turn up at weddings, take photos and then try to sell them to the wedding party later. Although the quality of these weren’t brilliant, the competition forced the hands of the more professional studio photographers to go and work on location.
With a lot of bulky equipment, this wasn’t ideal, and recording the entire wedding event was almost impossible. But by the 1970s, it became a lot easier to photograph the entire wedding and as such wedding photography evolved to the documentary style that we use it for today.