The Origins of Modern Day Wedding Photography – Part 1

Photography Blog • 20th Nov, 16 • 0 Comments

The Origins of Modern Day Wedding Photography – Part 1

The roots of the modern practice of taking photographs at weddings goes right back to the birth of photography in its current form by the French pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826.

Due to the nature of the heavy and large equipment and the difficulty of lighting, photography was largely a studio practice for most of the late 19th century and this also applied to wedding photography.

One of the earliest every wedding photographs ever taken in Britain is thought to be a studio recreation of the wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert on 10th February 1840. While photography existed in 1840 the techniques were not yet fully developed and so a photographic session took place at Buckingham Palace on 11 May 1854 under the supervision of the innovator Roger Fenton. Fenton is also famous for his images of the first ever war to be covered by photo journalism, the Crimean War which was fought from October 1853 to March 1856.

Above you can see both a painting of the ceremony by George Hayter and the black and white photographic recreation taken by Roger Fenton 14 years later. It should be mentioned that The Royal Collection has refuted such interpretations, maintaining that that the images are actually the first photographs to document Victoria as Queen, rather than as a wife or mother, and that she and Albert are wearing Court dress, not Wedding dress, which seems a tad improbable to our eyes!

Moreover, photography was still very expensive in the 1840s and way beyond the means of the average couple. Even those who could afford it usually did not hire a photographer to record the actual wedding itself. Rather, they might pose for a formal photo in their best clothes before or after a wedding. However, as the century progressed a trend developed for more couples to start posing in their wedding garments or increasingly to hire a photographer to actually venture out to the wedding venue!

You can read more about the photograph of Victoria and Albert here;


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