We are wrapping up our mini-series on all things wedding photography, and on today’s episode, Sara and Dan are discussing trends that they have seen coming and going in 2023! From photography styles to timeline tips, these two industry experts give their advice on what should stay and what should go out of style. Sara and Dan have been photographing weddings together for over 20 years, and that much experience will teach you a few things! Tune in to today’s episode to see which trends are worth implementing and which are worth leaving in the past.
So right off the bat, I want to get into editing. We have a whole episode an editing and retouching. But obviously, there are so many different styles of wedding photography and we’re seeing some trends, right, Dan? You have to find what you love. I would say about 10 years ago the trend was definitely saturated color. Now, it’s the opposite: really light and airy. We’re coming back into a more realistic color palette when it comes to editing. So, you have to figure out if you’re a really trendy person and stay with them or stay more classic while trends come and go.
One of the trends out there for photographers was capturing more candid moments. It’s this funny thing where people say they’re a photojournalist and capture candid moments. That’s all well and good. But, I find that those photographers don’t really capture everything a couple wants. I think we’ve found that people want a little bit of direction. They don’t know what to do – not everyone’s a model. We do more poses and find candid moments around that.
Gone are the days where people want traditionally posed shots. But you have to decide what you want. Do you want the trend or something that’s timeless? Or do you want both? We’re definitely seeing people think they just want candids, but I’m just throwing it out there that you might want a little of both. I’m about a happy medium.
The other trend we’re seeing right now is film photography. We’re seeing it in video right now, too. People are wanting to make super eight mm film, people are bringing back grain. But film is definitely coming back. Wedding photographers are using it – and it’s definitely trending.
I think you would just need to get somebody who specifically shoots that way if you want film images because it’s so different. I could try that, but I’m not as familiar. It takes time and finesse to get right. Plus film is so expensive. I think you’ll wind up with fewer images. And something specific that you might want – like a group photo – you’d have to be sure it’s perfect. You won’t be wasting film by taking a lot of the same group. So yeah, if you want that look, it’s a trend.
Not every photographer does that. I mean, we know how to do it. But we have friends that shoot both film and digital for wedding days. There’s definitely pros and cons to shooting in film, but it’s just another trend out there to consider.
Another trend we see is shooting straightforward flash. I’ll be honest, I don’t personally understand the trend.
It’s more of a fashion kind of thing.
But, I just feel when it comes to your wedding day… you should understand the trends out there and some are awesome. But, I just think there should be a more timeless approach. So, maybe include a few like that. Direct flash is just not flattering but it’s very high fashion.
I think when you photograph a model like that they have great skin and it like gives you a jaw line – some of those things you need for fashion photos. But if you’re just going to use direct flash when everyone’s dancing at a party, it’s not going to flatter you the same way. Now, I can understand why handing out instant film cameras during a cocktail hour or something is fun and artsy. But, for a full reception? Probably not.
Yeah, and just as a note: those Instax or Polaroid photos almost never get to you as the couple. They wind up on the tables or in people’s pockets, so just be aware you might never see them.
Back in the day, people used to use the disposable cameras on the tables. Each table would have them and that’s a trend that’s coming back.
There’s lots of ways to collect your guests’ photos. I mean, obviously the trend is to get more photos from guests. We did a podcast earlier that mentioned an officiant who asked the guests to take a selfie and send it to the bride and groom before shutting off their phones. I thought that was such a cool idea because the couple gets more photos from their guests. But anyway, there’s lots of ways to gather them. For years, it was using a specific hashtag, so people can share your photos and you can find them later. But, right now, the trend is more about getting photos from your guests enjoying the wedding day.
We’ve also seen people hire drone companies to get a big group photo from the air or other footage.
The thing you got to think about with that is whether or not you’re in a space that you can’t fly. Or what if it’s windy? Does the person have insurance? There’s a lot of private properties where you just can’t fly like that.
One of the things I’ve seen kind of go, that I would love to see it come back is the birdcage veil. So obviously, the veil is a staple. It’s here to stay. But, the birdcage veil was really popular about 7-10 years ago and it was such a fun fashion statement!
You know what I just thought about: we don’t see a lot of wedding dresses with sleeves. What’s wrong with the sleeves? I feel like people could totally rock them.
So that’s a trend and what’s actually coming back are removable sleeves. People are also bringing back cascading bouquets from the 80’s. It’s a fun idea but needs to be done correctly. I also miss twinkle lights. Those were really popular when rustic weddings were super in, about 5 years ago. I really love twinkle lights!
Yeah, and I think they’ve gotten replaced by those bigger bulbs with string lights – bistro lightning. It looks really cool, but they’re always so spaced out. Twinkle lights are close together and it’s fun to photograph them. There’s normally not enough bistro lights to get a similar effect.
What about some trends that are starting to go away? I think one is longer speeches and roasts.
Yeah, roasting the couple was super popular when we started this about 20 years ago. People weren’t concise either. They’d drag on speeches for quite awhile.
Yeah. We had a whole episode about speech writing. The bottom line is that it’s about quality not quantity – and don’t google a speech. People hear the same things over and over. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
What about garter and bouquet tosses?
I don’t like garter and bouquet. I think the bouquet toss can be fine. But it puts a lot of pressure on people. I feel like so many people don’t even want to go out on the floor and they’re so embarrassed the whole time. The garter feels really archaic. It’s always so awkward and I’ve seen so many young boys catch it and then get a lot of attention – they don’t understand it all.
Hear me out on this one: the chicken dance. Want to be on trend? Bring back the chicken dance! How fun would that be?
Okay, something we skipped was receiving lines. Receiving lines are going away and I truly feel that we should bring them back… with a caveat. A lot of people are getting rid of them because it takes a lot of time, so you need to build it into your timeline. But here’s the thing: if you do one, you’ve said your hello to everyone. Then you don’t have to bop around to each table during the reception. You can just eat your dinner and enjoy your guests. Or if you do a first look and can make it to your cocktail hour, then you’ve said your hellos.
They just make sense. It makes sense on every front.
Obviously cocktail hour was invented to give your guests food and drink while you disappear to take pictures. Well, why not have a first look instead? We have another episode on first looks. But, they’re a trend that’s here to stay.
Another trend that should stay gone: large wedding parties.
Yep. We had some doozies last year and the year before. It was just hard to keep everyone focused!
And, you know, I’m not saying that having a large wedding party is a bad thing. It’s just a lot more to organize and more people to keep focused. With COVID, we saw smaller parties and guests counts. Things are starting to come back up now.
The final thing that we’re seeing on trend is fireworks at your reception. Though, that’s slowing dying out. The wow effect of fireworks are great for an effect but for picture purposes, they don’t really work. They just don’t capture the half the time that you see fireworks in a picture. There’s a lot of other stuff going on there with post production.
Definitely. Things just don’t line up in the lens right or you look too small. It just doesn’t really give you that grand feeling you were hoping for. A little photo magic has to happen, which is fine. But just manage your expectations.
What We Discussed
Wedding Photography Trends (1:00)
Guest Interaction (9:04)
Trends that have faded (14:14)
Wedding Party sizes (23:00)
Links Mentioned in the Episode
Other Photography Episodes: Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer | Is a First Look Right For You? | Editing and Retouching: The Difference & What it Means | One Photographer vs. Two | Understanding wedding vocabulary
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