Couples Photography: A History

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we’d thought we’d try something a little different from our usual blog posts. We figured we’d give you guys a break from learning all about our products. Instead, you can have a nice, light article to read to pass the time! This week’s blog post is a history of couples photography! In our archives, we have a few articles about the history of photography, but we have never leapt from behind the camera to focus on the subject! Without further ado, let’s jump in!

History of Couples Photography

Beginnings

As we all know, the history of photography is intimately linked with the development of the camera. This also had implications for what could be photographed. For example, the first photograph (pictured below) took over eight hours of exposure to make a grainy impression on the silver nitrate sheet. It’s hard to imagine a happy couple remaining happily in place for eight hours for a photograph in a pose.

The oldest surviving photograph by Nicéphore Niépce

However, the technology in the camera started to get better and better, and the development time for photos got shorter and shorter. Happy couples could enter the studio for their photoshoots. At first, studio shoots were quite expensive,. And, the couple only received a few photos from the session. But overtime, as photography and capturing memories became more popular, the price dropped and more and more people could afford to have their photos taken.

Queen Victoria

A whopping fourteen years after she married Prince Albert, the iconic couple posed for their wedding pictures in 1854. At the time of their actual wedding (go ahead and do the math), photography wasn’t an option for them. So, they waited and pounced at the opportunity when the technology allowed for studio photography. Their photos, some of the first instances of couples photography known to us, inspired tons of other happy couples to have their photos taken, and their love kept forever.

Another fun piece of trivia about Queen Victoria is that she popularized the white wedding dress. Forever changing its meaning. White dresses were often reserved for the wealthy upper-class since they were made of expensive materials and were hard to clean. However, Queen Victoria’s devotion to Prince Albert and her adherence to tradition transformed the meaning of the white dress. No longer was it associated with wealth, but instead with purity.

couples photography begins with the wedding photo of queen victoria and prince albert
Historians of Photography consider Queen Victoria and Prince Albert one of the first couples photographed in wedding attire. Photo courtesy of Vogue.

Though the sentiments behind the white dress may be a bit outdated in today’s world, white is still the dominant color for bridal dresses in the Western world.

Post-War Wedding Boom

Up until the second world war, bulky camera equipment restricted photographers to the studio. Photographers simply could not follow the couple around on their wedding day with their host of lights and props. But the invention of flashbulbs, transfer sheets, and other photographic advancements meant that photographers could slowly lighten their load. Soon, photographers could capture more photos quickly, and with less of a cost. With the post-war wedding and baby boom, couples photography became a viable industry.

Most of these photos are black and white, since color photography hadn’t quite been perfected yet. It wouldn’t be until the mid-1960s that color photography would become the norm.

Modern Couples Photography

Rise of Digital Photography

Like the rest of the history of photography, so much depends on the development of the camera. While color photos, smaller, more mobile equipment caused photography to flourish, it wasn’t until the invention of the digital camera that turned the wedding photography industry into what we see it as today. Digital cameras offer quick shooting, on-the-go photo alteration, and much more control over the shot. No longer did photographers need to carry around a slew of equipment. With one or two cameras, a wedding photographer could capture every magical scene of the wedding day, outside of a studio. This style of photography is known as photojournalism. Photojournalistic photography features candid photos or unposed shots to offer more authentic feelings to photos.

Today’s wedding photography industry combines posed photos with photojournalistic photos. Now happy couples receive hundreds of photos rather than just a handful. Though the price difference is much more staggering.

Other Styles of Couples Photography

In this blog post, we’ve focused a lot on wedding photography. But with the rise of digital photography, more and more innovative styles emerge. Boudoir photography, though also coinciding with the advent of the camera, is now incredibly popular among couples. With photographers able to meet the client in their own homes without assistants, the experience can be much more comfortable and private. Often boudoir photos link up with feminist ideas of self-love and owning sexuality. This link also explains the style’s popularity in the current age.

Of course, another obvious style of photoshoot is engagement photography. Since digital photography has made professional photoshoots more accessible, couples are now opting for elaborate engagement shoots. Then, the couple uses these photos for invitations, or other printed media needed for the wedding.

In essence, couples photography is everywhere now. What was previously a luxury afforded only to the hyper wealthy (like the Queen of England) is now commonplace and plastered all over social media. Photographers are everywhere, ready to stage and snap any couple ready to pose for them. In fact, the industry is so eager, that sometimes actors will pose for stock photo shoots to be used in advertisements or marketing materials!

If photographers are ready, so are we! Though the time to order for Valentine’s Day has passed, we are still always ready to print any of your lovely shots. From wedding shoots to maternity shoots, we have a product that will suit your printing needs. As usual, you can always reach out and contact us and hear back within a day or two! We hope you enjoyed this little history lesson, and we look forward to printing with you!