09 Jan, 2018

The History of the Wedding Photo Album

The modern wedding comes in all shapes and sizes. It seems anything goes. Besides the traditional fairytale wedding, they can be glam or goth, in a church or on the seabed and everything in between.

Capturing these dazzling events is the wedding photographer, and often most of the guests. Images get deleted and retaken by the second. After careful selection, the best become immortalised in stylish wedding albums like chic flush-mount designs to house magazine-quality photos.

When did wedding albums become so sophisticated?

For anyone who remembers what most wedding albums used to look like, apart from various shades of leatherette, which was a posh option not everyone could afford, wedding albums all looked very similar and they had for decades. Well, since about the 70s. Before that they didn't really exist. Not for everyday people. The reason being there wasn't usually enough wedding photos to fill an album, and the reason for that spans two centuries and involves royalty, innovation, a revolution, and a generation of trend-setters.

1840: the very first wedding photo is taken

When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, photography was a new phenomenon. Like much of our technology today, it would transform industry and only be available to the wealthy before mere mortals could afford a camera. So when a photographer attended Queen Victoria's wedding, although they didn't wear the same dress-wear as during the service, they posed for what could be one of the first photos taken on a wedding day.


There's a parallel between advances in technology and the ability to produce enough wedding photos to fill an album. But compared to how fast things move these days, although wedding photos grew in popularity, 100 years following the royal wedding, no wedding albums existed. But not because people didn't get married or have a picture taken; posing for a wedding photo was becoming fashionable, and the profession of photography was too.

Technology was advancing and cinemas opened for the first time in major cities. But photographic equipment was too bulky and too heavy to take far, it was also expensive to buy. For their wedding photo, newlyweds often had to pose in a studio for a portrait-style shot.

A revolution

After the industrial revolution, people had more money and lots of new gadgets to spend it on. Cars, stereos, TVs and kitchen contraptions rolled off production lines for the first time.

The film industry spawned celebrity film stars who's photo was taken regularly by a newer, lighter, flashbulb camera; cheaper versions mass-produced as demand soared.

By the 1940s, wedding photographers had become as much part of a wedding as the dress and ring. Forced out of the comfort of their studios by rival amateur photographers crashing weddings, to stay in business, professional photographers hauled their equipment to churches too. In theory, this meant that family and friends could join the photo shoots.


The following decades shaped the society we live in. People started travelling more and taking family holidays. They took their new cameras with them and captured their adventures; eager to show grainy pictures to friends.

Inspired by Hollywood and dreamy magazine images, by the end of the 70s, weddings became more glamorous. Professional photographers could carry their kit easily and people could be chauffeured about to various locations. Wedding photos could be taken in scenic settings like parks or by the sea and at the formal dinner and party afterwards. Photographers had enough photos to fill an album and everyone wanted them. The rest is history.

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