It’s funny. I look back at our wedding photos (we’re approaching our 8th anniversary on September 1) and I am reminded of how much things can change in less than a decade. Not only have we all aged a bit (or as one author puts it, become a little ‘suburban soft’), but the photos themselves are clearly from a different era. The era of film. The era of print albums, not digital. The era before Photoshop Actions, where what you see is what you get.
The blue in my eyes is the real deal. It hasn’t been brightened or made more dazzling. My bouquet has not been ‘sharpened’ or made to look ‘vintage’ with a myriad of computerized enhancements. It is what it is. And there is an undeniable beauty in that. It’s honest. Real. There is no “rock star” veneer.
I can look at my photos and I remember the exact yellow of the roses in my bouquet. I can look at the faces of my loved ones and know that they were not enhanced, modified, blurred, ‘dodged’, boosted or ‘lomo’ ed in the name of sexy photos.
Our wedding photos are not sexy. We do not look like rock stars. But they are authentic, and for that I love them.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t like the transformation that wedding photography has taken. Digital photography has been responsible for an explosion of creativity. Digital photography encourages photographers to experiment, to play, and to take risks because there are no rolls of film to run out of. Without the expense of film, digital photographers have the freedom to click, click, click, click, without worrying about the end of the roll. Some argue that there is a downside to this freedom, in that the photographer doesn’t “make each shot count” as they would if they were shooting in film. An interesting argument, but I think freedom enhances creativity.
And without the expense of film and darkroom equipment, it has become a whole lot easier to enter the photography profession. I don’t have any stats, but I know for a fact that the amount of photographers out there making a living at taking photos has skyrocketed. (There are downsides to this.)
Nowadays, you don’t have to be messing around with toxic chemicals in a darkroom to make magic happen. Photographers with Photoshop skills can transform decent photos into downright dazzling photos. I know this firsthand. I dabble in photography with a Nikon D70s (a dinosaur to most digital photographers) and I’m blown away at what Photoshop Actions can do to transform my photos. It’s downright addictive!
Even though I embrace the digital age with open arms, I am nostalgic for film and I have huge respect for photographers who still shoot in film. Like Claire Lewis, a wedding photographer and author of Exposed: Confessions of Wedding Photographer.
I loved Claire’s book (stay tuned for a review in the upcoming weeks) and I think she makes some really great points about shooting in film. And one of the strongest points is precisely what I discussed: the authenticity of it. (It’s funny because prior to reading Exposed, I honestly wondered if there were any wedding photographers out there who still shot with film.)
I don’t believe that film will ever die. Trends come and go, and I am certain that someday, couples will be clamoring for the honesty and nostalgia of film-based photos.
Until then, most of you will choose a digital photographer with a good grasp of Photoshop. Just make sure you choose her wisely. As I mentioned earlier, the digital age has sparked the entrepreneurial spirit in many men and women. And some will offer their services at a bargain price. But remember: if something is too cheap, somebody is paying. And that somebody might very well be you.