“Have you heard of Instagram?”
I can’t divulge who said this, but it was in my workplace. A newsroom.
“Aw man, we’ll never need a professional photographer again”, the person added.
More laughter trailed off to a “well I guess… it’s not… impossible” thought.
This person, while it seemed a little ludicrous at the time, wasn’t entirely off the mark – some of the photos taken with these smartphone apps look outrageously professional, especially so on an iPhone display that’s only 11.5 cm x 5.8 cm.
And yes, I am guilty of taking a photo of myself not looking directly at the camera and running it through either an Instagram or Camera+ hipster 1970’s yellow-saturated filter. Oh, and giving said photo a Polaroid-style frame.
I laughed uncomfortably when I saw this scene from Family Guy…
Brian Griffin: For your information, Jillian is very bright and she happens to be a very talented photographer.
Stewie Griffin: Oh, that is so lame. Every girl who can aim a camera thinks she’s a photographer. Ooh, you took a black and white picture of a lawn chair and its shadow… you must be so brooding and deep.
Think about how photos used to be.
I remember getting a clunky (by today’s standards) point-and-shoot camera for a birthday – I may have been around 14.
Although I had no sense of composition, light or even subject, I tried to take the best snaps I knew how, mainly as the batteries, film and processing costs were pretty steep for a pre-part-time work teenager.
Back then, f you took a shitty photo, you couldn’t just delete it. You either ripped it up, or wore it. Or your parents kept it for your 21st birthday party.
Stiff and unflattering photos weren’t just limited to ones your Uncle Wal would take with his Kodak instamatic fitted with a flashcube at Christmas lunch, they feature in every Nan’s house across the country, masquerading as ‘the wedding portrait’.
These portraits generally take my breath away, mainly because you know that all that stiff seriousness was usually for one treasured photograph.
They don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Me? I’m shelling out just shy of four grand for my photographer. I know, my grandmother Joanie would need a sit-down after hearing that.
But I didn’t just want the ‘photo with newly-acquired husband’, ‘photo with my parents, ‘his parents’, ‘my side of the family’, ‘his side of the family’, ‘all the family’, all standing side-by-side in a line-up. A little too *cookie-cutter.
*Joanie would need another sit-down here. She would say, ‘Oh [wrybride]! For Heaven’s sake, it’s a biscuit-cutter!’
So what’s a girl to do?
You call *cough* a photojournalist.
The photographer photojournalist captures a raw moment, as it happened, without orchestration.
But really, I think that in 20, 30 or 85 years’ time, someone will notice how wedding photo fashions have changed again and again, and our hip and groovy photojournalistical block-mounted pictures will probably find themselves as dorky as the stiff, traditional photos that are stuck behind sticky cellophane in your folks’ wedding album in the linen cupboard.
So what exactly has replaced the traditional wedding portrait?
Wooden letters on the bridal table that say ‘Mr and Mrs’ or ‘L-O-V-E’
People holding paper moustaches on sticks up to their faces
The bride and groom, standing straight, sans smiles, in front of a building (holding hands optional)
Ooops, I mean this
Wooden signs that say ‘wedding of such-and-such this way’
Wedding bands. On a pillow, in a bowl, tied to a tree or to a dog.
The couple kissing while holding up a wooden frame
The bride and groom in a field.
Bride and groom with a bicycle. In a field.
Photo of the bride or groom with their head cut off.
The bridal feet.
Bride cupping a piece of fruit
And if I happen to miss anything from this list, I suppose I’ll just Instagram it, I mean, those filtered photos are just as professional, yeah?