Have you ever wondered about the first wedding photograph?
Before moving ahead, I want to go backwards to the birth of photography itself. This will be a very shortened version!
Sir John Herschel, mathematician, astronomer and chemist, made significant contributions to the birth of photography. From Sir John, we received the word “photography” which is Greek for “light” and “writing,” in addition to the terms “negative” and “positive.” Sir John also contributed to the work of fellow photography pioneers, Niepce and Daguerre, supplying them with his discovery of an early photographic fixer.
Joseph Nicephore Niepce, chemist, brings to us, the invention of photography, and the world’s first known photograph in 1825.
Louis Jacques Daguerre, artist and chemist, was also working to perfect the process of early photography. From Daguerre, we have received the famous Daguerreotype. Daguerre was in direct competition to William Fox Talbot, inventor of the calotype process, and the first to hold a patent in Britain for this early photographic process.
In 1829, Niepce and Daguerre formed a partnership to further explore and create in the world of photography. Unfortunately Niepce passed away a few years later. The contributions by both live on today.
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY – THE FIRST WEDDING PHOTO
The photograph shown here is of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They were wed in 1840.
This photograph was shot in 1854.
At the time of their marriage, Daguerre had finally found a way to permanently fix an image onto a sheet of silver-plated copper. The method quickly enabled others to turn to photography themselves and “Daguerreotype studios” began popping up all over the place. Photography at that time was always done in a studio with cumbersome equipment. The sitting process was tedious as the subject had to stand in one place for nearly 20 minutes, often their heads would be held by clamps to prevent movement.
Daguerrotypes were all the rage with people, finally there was a method to record what one looked like at a given time in their history. The process was far less lengthy than paintings. Everyone had to have one.
In 1854, Roger Fenton, a photographer, came into the lives of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Fenton became their Royal Photographer and not only did he photograph this recreation of their wedding, but he photographed their entire family. Fenton became the world’s first Royal Photographer with intimate access to the private life of the royal family. (btw, if you haven’t yet seen the documentary The President’s Photographer, rent it today!)
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY EVOLVES
By 1884, the world saw the development of film by George Eastman. With the invention of film, the small box camera became a reality and photography became instantly a product for the masses.
With the new cameras and film at their disposal, the process of capturing the wedding itself began to take shape. After WWII, wedding portraiture soon left the studios and began to happen on on location and began to show the church, the bridal party, and sometimes even the couple leaving for their honeymoon.
The 1950′s and early 1960′s saw wedding photography begin to loosen a little bit more. Posing was still very heavy at this time, though not as stiff as it once was. Cameras were getting easier to use, though the professional equipment was still more expensive and the process was still more time and labor intensive. Color film was also introduced.
By the late 1960′s wedding photography began to change shape once more. The 35mm rangefinder and SLR and flashes were now on the rise and getting into the hands of more enthusiasts. Photographers began to take a page from the photojournalists who had been documenting their world and their lives since the 1930s with the Leica camera. Wedding photojournalism was born. Moments were recorded, not created.
And today we face another revolutionary change in the field of photography (and wedding photography) with the rapidly evolving world of digital. Technology is advancing at a pace quicker than we could have imagined. Photography has become more accessible to more people. Creativity knows no bounds. The still image is merging with the moving image. Audio has been introduced. The possibilities are endless.
Where will we go?
Change can be scary, but it certainly always brings excitement and challenge. That’s a good thing.