Hands up anybody in wedding-land who hasn’t heard about last week’s article on The Huffington Post about the end of the vintage wedding trend? Yeah, I knew there wouldn’t be any hands up. So – what does it mean for the wedding industry? Not much. Trends come and go. But there is one thing…
Does the end of vintage really matter?
It does mean something for a new wave of wedding photographers – and indeed other wedding suppliers – who’ve built a successful business on the back of a very specific trend. It could mean a great opportunity for growth, or it could mean panic. There are photographers who’ve developed a very niche style with cutesy Photoshop filters, quirky trademark shots and vintage styling. While that’s fine as just one option in a quality portfolio, it’s not so good if it’s all that distinguishes someone’s work from the crowd.
Looking to quality and style instead
I hear a lot about timeless photography. About having a skill and a talent rather than just a popular style. About enduring elegance in images and about wedding photographers giving clients something that will look as classy and special in ten and twenty years time as it does in 2011. And we’ve all heard criticism of photographers who’ve relied on vintage processing – remember Meg Surly’s letter to wedding bloggers over on Hindsight Bride?
“Let me tell you, those 1970s, flower-child, hippy-happy weddings are not helping you find your unique style for your blog. It’s also nauseating to scroll through all those bile-yellow filtered photographs of fields with the bride and groom all but obscured by fake, Photoshopped “sun-flares.”
We get it. It’s the trend. But let’s face it, it’s not a very attractive one. Perhaps it’s time to move on. Perhaps it’s time to consider accepting clear, clean photographs with accurate color.” (read more)
Hmmmm. I’ll admit to loving a bit of lens flare. And there’s no need to be nasty – but that blog post highlighted the over reliance on Photoshop effects by a small group of new wedding photographers. While many of us can react to the end of the vintage wedding trend with a shrug and a quiet “told you so”, there are some wedding photographers and suppliers for whom this means a drastic shift in their brand and core business.
An opportunity or a threat?
This is a big opportunity for individual businesses and for the wedding industry. We all need to move on and embrace change. I actually think it’s great that over the past few years so many new wedding photographers have had success with the whole vintage trend. We all start somewhere, and to come into the industry with such a strong sense of style and fashion can’t be a bad thing! But now it’s time for those photographers who are really passionate about their art to look to the future and create a brand built as much on quality as it is on fashion.
My research for this little blog feature takes me to wedding photography blog Ground Glass, which has a very deep and thoughtful blog post on the end of the vintage trend. I quote author Spencer Lum,
“Do we complain when the style we’ve chosen for ourselves goes out of fashion? At that point, we have a choice. We can either go on the defensive and drown in complacency as we stick to our guns. Or we can swim, further and faster, letting go of it all, until we find that place where it’s not the style that matters.” (read more)
Because quality is what will take the industry forwards
New businesses are springing up all the time in the wedding industry. A marketeer would say it’s a fragmented industry, with many, many small businesses competing. But if there are too many new photographers, some of whom will be inexperienced and untrained, then brides and grooms aren’t getting the quality of service they deserve.
What should we really be looking for from wedding photographers? Classy, beautifully composed images. Clever use of light. Intuitive shots which capture perfect moments, the light in a couple’s eyes, the happy tear, the natural romance. A great photographer will avoid cliches and forced poses, distracting shadows and dark or dingy images. An excellent wedding photographer will witness the story of your wedding day as it unfolds, complete with all the emotion and happiness your unique personalities bring to your day.
What does this mean for brides and grooms?
When you’re spending thousands of pounds on a single day in your life, you have every right to expect fantastic quality from your wedding suppliers. And when a new photographer can set up a business based on “oh that’s so coooool”, you’re not necessarily getting that quality.
But when the wedding industry shifts its focus back onto quality, as it now will, and photographers’ work has to be seen as “oh that’s so gooooood”, I think everyone will benefit.
So if you’re looking for a wedding photographer, take a deeper look at their work. A blog of recent weddings is a great place to start. Look for variety and style that goes deeper than retro or vintage. Look for simplicity – no clever tricks that could look dated a few years from now. Look for words in a photographer’s blog post that show enthusiasm, understanding and enjoyment of the wedding featured. Look for genuine positive feedback from other wedding photographers in a blog’s comments.