The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
To have and to hold (snap) . . .
If events are heavily promoted as being once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, people are going to want photographs to remember them by. Weddings are one of the best examples of this need. While the statistics on matrimonial longevity don’t look great—in 2008, for example, 46% of all marriages involved a remarriage for one or both spouses and 40% of all marriages ended in divorce—the people who can keep getting married and want to have the pictures taken, as they do it.
Even in advance of the big day, photography proved itself to be a necessity. Brides-to-be flip through the pages of specialized magazines to see what’s available and in style. Newspapers announce upcoming nuptials in sections that feature photographs of the betrothed, but some have become so barraged with “unsuitable” images that they now post photo requirements on their websites. Here, for instance is what the New York Times suggests, if you want changes to your marital status to make news:
“While we continue to include formal portraits of couples and individual brides, we also include full-length images of brides in wedding dresses, as well as informal photographs of individuals or couples at home, outdoors or in other attractive settings. Those posing for pictures should be neatly dressed, and the images should be of professional quality .... Couples posing for pictures should arrange themselves with their eyebrows on exactly the same level and with their heads fairly close together. Couple pictures should be printed in a horizontal format.”
Until cameras became portable, wedding photography was mostly restricted to studio portraits. But once photo equipment became less cumbersome, and as in-love couples—whose lives were already documented in snapshots, home movies, and videos—grew more image-savvy and demanding, the practice of wedding photography was transformed. Many weddings are produced as carefully as feature films and meant to be experienced as a sequence of photo ops. Good thing, too because the photos taken are destined to become memory tools for couples too distracted by the swirl of activity they’ve concocted to see, feel, or savor what actually went on. That’s why they hire professionals like Laurie Lambrecht, who in her piece for click! describes that on wedding days, it’s just as much photography as it is love that makes the world go around.