Why do couples even want wedding photos?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by tholte, Mar 31, 2004.

  1. I realize that everyone has to make a living and that being a
    wedding photographer is a valid occupation, but, I have often
    wondered, why do couples spend so much money on wedding photos? I
    have been married for 29 years and have looked at my wedding photos
    once. The average American marriage lasts about seven years. Am I
    missing something? I really don't get it. Most of the wedding
    photos I see are so corny and hoky that it is hard to believe that
    someone actually paid them to take them. I am not trying to dis all
    you wedding photogs out there, I just don't understand the
    importance of wedding photographs in contemporary American life. If
    anyone can explain it to me, give it a try.
     
  2. I'll venture a guess, though I'm half a world away in Singapore, but observe the same demand for wedding photos (though here it take the form of bride and groom in front of cool settings-grecian pillars, archways, promenade by the river, sidewalk cafe etc. etc.).

    1. Brides especially, are immensely susceptible to peer pressure in all things related to marriage culture, for want of a better word. So there is no question of not having photographs. And if you can afford it, the same kind of pictures as your sister/girlfriend/rival etc. etc.

    2. This is the most important occasion in most people's lives, as they see it. Photography has the promise of making time stand still by capturing the moment visually.

    3. Popular taste in photographs is plain awful. This explains ghastly blue backgrounds in Sears' type portraits. Wedding pros merely aim to please the customer.

    4. We had our wedding pix done by an "expressive" photog. Just the same, we've viewed the pix only 3 times in 10 years. You can look back only so much.

    5. By contrast, in my parents' & grandparents' generation in middle class India, and from what I understand, in the West also, the wedding photograph (singular) hung on the living room wall. A single half-plate/5x7 contact printed, viewed every day. Those pictures obviously had a strong symbolic quality in those relationships. Oh, and the pics typically did not fade, even after 100 years, and the detail was astonishingly good.
     
  3. wait till your wife inevitably dies(or she when you die), then see how you feel.
     
  4. << The average American marriage lasts about seven years. >>

    Where is that stat from?
     
  5. I think it is "usual" for a male to make such a statement. It's the Bride and her parents who
    are really on display. I find that even if there is a divorce, the Bride still wants her pictures.
    The reason is, they are a record of her own happy family when they were healthy. And
    they are a record of her when she was at her "top" in many ways.

    Therefore, the hunt goes on for a photographer who can actually make the Bride look very
    good. And most wedding photographers are not really trained to do this. Many wedding
    photographers are color-by-the-numbers photographers.

    I think it helps to come from a happy family. I think it helps that the particular family
    actually teaches a value in having friends and caring about people. In contrast, some
    people are more caring about the objects they own and the wrenches they turn at work.

    Therefore, many of these people have 400, 600 friends and acquaintances that they can
    invite to an affair! How many of you out there can lay claim to having even 200 friends
    and acquaintances in your area? Go look at your telephone book!

    You see, these people are "connected'. They are connected by religion and through their
    daily deeds to others. And most of them are religious.

    For the parents, it is a goal achieved. And sadly, many sick mothers-of-the-Bride pass
    away soon after the wedding day. But they make it to the wedding!

    I rarely see men interested in weddings. I don't hear of feminists interested in weddings.

    It normally begins in the dreams and goals of a young girl. Weddings are made of dreams.
    It is the program of many wedding photographers to maximize this dream. For one day,
    the Bride is a Princess with a court of admirers.

    The Bride and Groom are the Prince and Princesses of all countries on our planet. We live
    and breathe in our symbols that we have created.
     
  6. It seems like you have an issue with spending money on the wedding itself, rather than the photography specifically. And if you are going to go down that "so much money" road, you need to stop off at some other points first:
    <P>
    -Why spend $800-2500 on a dress you will wear once?<br>
    -Why spend $1000 on flowers that will last for a few days?<br>
    -Why rent a church that you never go to?<br>
    -Why invite a bunch of casual friends and distant relatives that you never see and don't really care about?<br>
    <P>
    At least the photography/videography will be around for a while.
     
  7. I read somewhere that American are much more demanding than Europeans for their wedding photography, with larger print sizes as well (apparently Europeans are content with 8x10s). There is probably a strong cultural component involved.
     
  8. jka

    jka

    Tim,

    I can't answer for all couples but we truly had our wedding photographed to save the memories. I know that sounds corny but it's true.

    We just looked at them the other night. We probably look at them 1-2 times per year. Now that we've been married for almost 16 years, they mean more than ever. Besides reminding me of one of the happiest days in my life, they let me visit relatives and friends (at least in my mind) that have left this World. My best man was my uncle (and best friend). He died tragically in a housefire 4 years after our marriage. Some of the Grandparents are no longer with us. I could go on and on.

    Another neat thing is as children get older, they like to see how "funny" we looked way back then (you know, way back in the old days of 1988.) It's also neat to see how a child looks more and more like one or both of the parents as they grow older.

    I can think of a bunch of reasons that a person would want pictures. I find it hard to believe that anyone would discount the value of any pictures, let alone wedding day pictures.

    john
     
  9. "Most of the wedding photos I see are so corny and hoky that it is
    hard to believe that someone actually paid them to take them."

    I'll agree with that part of your thesis, anyway. I think it's because
    most amateurs are terribly self-concious as models, and
    photographers are often forced to use the same cheesy poses
    over and over just to get an acceptable result. Which is also why
    I think the documentary style of wedding photography has
    become so popular. People like to see themselves relaxing and
    having fun, and they usually look pretty good doing it. Better
    than they look posing, anyway.
     
  10. Easy question. Family and one's love for husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents. Only two of lifes many events bring the ENTIRE family together. Weddings and funerals. My mother died five years ago at 56. I can't put a price on the value of good photos of her...even the ones form the wedding at which I was obviouslty not around to see. Bridal photos are especially important cause it's every woman's moment of crowning glory
    007rTG-17334484.JPG
     
  11. Josh has a good point. My wife and I spent about $200 on our wedding. She got a new suit which she could also wear to work, we paid a judge, my father took the pictures and we had a big dinner for the parents, aunts and uncles and one of the uncles dropped us off in Montreal for a honeymoon on his way home. I'd be surprised if either of us has looked at the pictures more than a few times in the 30 years since. Clearly we are un-American :)
     
  12. Tim, the simple answer is, if you don't see a value in them, then don't pay for them. Don't be surprised if your bride or your daughter or your daughter-in-law or whoever, feels differently, though. You could ask the same thing about the photographs most of us amateurs take- they aren't important, why do we spend thousands on equipment and travel and all?

    For what it's worth, when I got married, a friend took the pictures (without the benefit of posting a "My First Wedding, What Do I Do?" post on photo.net), and we didn't pay anything for wedding photos. We've looked at them about 3 times, too. Been married 18 years, though. Haven't regretted the photos, the wedding, or the marriage!
     
  13. It's ain't that hard to understand bro. Western judeo-christian society places a huge importance on being married and raising a family. It only stands to reason that some kind of visual record of the consecration of that is recorded for posterity.

    While it may not be your cup of tea - I'd be willing to bet that most newlywed wives spend quite a lot of time looking over their wedding photographs right after being married. In general, they probably spend more time over the course their life looking at them than their male counterpart. Part of it is a gender thing. Advertising and the media constantly bombard women with the idea that they need to be married to be 'complete' and 'happy' - they are also bombarded with the message that they need to be 'nostalgic' and 'sentimental' - think soft focus filter. In many ways this is a hold over from the 1950's. In many other ways this is one more way for companies to sell crap to people they don't really need. Wow, not too disimilar from the way camera companies work. LOL!

    Where I live in Asia - wedding photos are an insane industry. If you think Americans and Westerners go big on wedding - you ain't seen nothing till you seen a traditional Chinese/Asian wedding. Whole roasted pig on every table as a sign of chastity and virginity etc. Brides changing attire every fifteen minutes. Every family member on the tree is invited and then some. And in camera gear crazy Hong Kong the hired photographer has to jocky for position with all the relatives that have an amazing array of pro level gear.It's really a production. I think most Americans have it lucky by far.

    If you've ever lost a loved one then you realize the importance photographs - wedding hoke or not. The memory fades faster than a photograph.
     
  14. I do some wedding photography, but I agree that most people spend way too much on pictures that they can't really afford and don't look at enough to justify paying for. But like Josh and others have pointed out, it's just one more thing that people spend too much on to show off for their 45 minutes of fame. Actually I think that wedding photographs are often just a way to make their 45 minutes of fame last longer, even if it is just in their own minds.

    But people spend way too much money on all kinds of things that have little or no practical or lasting significance. Wedding photography is just one of them. The $2000 wedding dress is about the dumbest thing I can imagine. $1000 for a cake is not quite so bad, and $500 for a church rental is a bargain. (But then I work for a church, so I am biased.)

    We only spent about $400 for our wedding (31 years ago), but that next winter I was wishing we had saved a bit more of it. But I have viewed the wedding pictures at least a dozen times since. Actually, the pictures are the one thing (along with my wife) that has remained. That's the one expense I wish we had spent more on.

    I value the wedding pictures because they; remind me of my past, remind me of friends & family now gone, document personal history, remind me I still love my wife. I am rarely sentimental, but sometimes old photos do it too me. For that, they are valuable.
     
  15. I do think there is a deep girl/boy difference in the significance of weddings.

    For a lot of brides, dreaming about the wedding occupies years (even before the husband-to-be is a known quantity), and planning the wedding occupies months, but the event itself goes by in a flash of a few hours.

    Photographs help make the moment last. They allow the bride to appreciate the result of all the dreams and plans. And they fill in details that otherwise get lost in the whirlwind of the moment.

    I give men and women equal credit for understanding the concept of marriage.

    The concept of the wedding, however, is pretty much a creation of the pretty muchachas.

    -Jim
     
  16. I do think there is a deep girl/boy difference in the significance of weddings.

    For a lot of brides, dreaming about the wedding occupies years (even before the husband-to-be is a known quantity), and planning the wedding occupies months, but the event itself goes by in a flash of a few hours.

    Photographs help make the moment last. They allow the bride to appreciate the result of all the dreams and plans. And they fill in details that otherwise get lost in the whirlwind of the moment.

    I give men and women equal credit for understanding the concept of marriage.

    The concept of the wedding, however, is pretty much a creation of the pretty muchachas.

    -Jim
     
  17. Tim, you are confusing need with desire. As an advertising creative director, I deal with
    this question frequently in answer to: "why does advertising make people buy things they
    don't need".

    People don't NEED much to survive. fire, fur, protein, water, shelter ... and a mate, or the
    species disappears. (Take note that the last one is related to weddings ; -)

    They WANT much more. Fine food, nice house, decent transportation, fashionable clothes,
    beer, 60" plasma Screens ; )

    The wedding is pretty important in almost all advanced civilizations. It is the basic
    organizational unit. Women are biologically and behaviorally programed to ensnare a male
    to stick around and help provide for the family ... raise and protect the children (there's
    that "survival of the species" again).

    A wedding is the ritual that solidifies that relationship. It is SO important that it is usually
    done in front of God, or at least someone pretty important. It is most often done quite
    publicly, and with much fanfare. It is also a uniting of two families.

    Wedding photography is a record of that ritual. Because photography, by historical
    proclivity, is real. In the past, people didn't engage artists to draw their wedding... not
    even the wealthiest art patrons ritually did that.

    Elaborate and festive weddings are nothing new. Photography is just the newest addition
    to that ritual. A real record of the event.

    And just like how people desire "more/better" in many areas of their life, so do some
    people desire a more/better wedding ritual. By custom, the ritual is usually paid for by the
    Bride's family. It isn't all that far distant from the ritual of a dowery.

    As to paying so much for that desire... pay a little and it is more likely the album will be
    viewed infrequently. Hire Mary or Jeff and it becomes a story book and viewed as such...
    because it is also art... starring the Bride and her husband when they were deeply in love
    and just starting out... not to mention usually being young... which they never will be
    again, ever.
     
  18. I am impressed by the thoughtfull comments on my post (with the exception of Daniel's). It's interesting to hear what people think about something I have always wondered about. Thanks!!!!
     
  19. Lucas and William made some really good points. I would add to Lucas" post that Indian weddings are stunning and extremely complex (and great fun).

    I agree it's a bit of a gender issue. It's the one chance to be the fairy princess with the gown, all the trappings and the attention all on the bride.

    Conni
     
  20. Wow - Awfully interesting perspectives here. Here is my two cents as a "female bride".
    I was married last August. I'm not a young chicken. I'm 49 years old. I'm also a wedding photographer which might indicate that I'd want wedding pictures and the best quality possible. I almost didn't hire a photographer but after remembering how many brides told me how grateful they were to have beautiful documentation of their wedding day because it was all a "blur".... I changed my mind and hired the second best photographer in Vermont.
    I now have 1400 outstanding pictures that re-create the moment by moment events of the best day of my life. I tear up when I see them and so does my husband. My husband and I will look at the photos from time to time and when we do, it reminds us to take a moment from our day to day existance and express our love for each other. We remember to tell each other why we love each other so much and it brings us right back to the intense emotions that we felt that day. We look at pictures of our friends and relatives crying and laughing and it warms us and makes us feel loved. I am also able to show loved ones and friends that were unable to make it -- The place, the details, the love that is very well captured by a talented photographer. Years to come - my children and grandchildren will view and appreciate these images. I only know that now because I'm nearing 50 and it isn't until now that I understand the value of family photos. I have my mothers' photo album and it is precious to me now that she has passed.
    So - Why do "some" people spend so much? I don't think a good photographer is overpriced at $3,000+ in a major city area. You get what you pay for. I spent $12,000 on a wedding with 27 guests. I'll never regret it. Everything was perfect - better than I could imagine. The setting, the food, the dress, the entertainment and the wonderful photos. This is one of the most major decisions in my life and I want to celebrate it in a major way.
    "Most of the wedding photos I see are so corny and hoky" Sure there are some corny and hoky style photos out there. But, more and more wedding photography is artistic, natural and emotional.
    "I think it is "usual" for a male to make such a statement. It's the Bride and her parents who are really on display.... ...I rarely see men interested in weddings. I don't hear of feminists interested in weddings." -Timber Hey Timber, I'm a feminist and that statement isn't true for me. My family and friends were shocked that I went all the way and even wore a veil! They expected I would be very original and eclectic but some aspects of the wedding were very traditional. As to males.... it is amazing these days how many men are involved in the details and planning. You'd be surprised at how many of my arrangements are made with the guys. There are at least 5 weddings in the last two years that I did all my dealings with the groom and only talked with the bride prior to the wedding once or twice. Two of the weddings - I didn't even meet the bride until the day of.
    Fazal "(apparently Europeans are content with 8x10s)." Actually Fazal, in my 14 years of fulfilling orders I've only had about 5 or so 11x14's ordered. Most of the reprints are 5x7 and 4x6 with a spattering of 8x10's.
    As always, we see a variety of "opinions" and perspectives here. Some of it has to do with the area of the country and the income levels of clients. 99.9% of my clients are successful working couples between 28 and 40. Many of them pay for their own weddings and want the best event possible to share thier happiness in a big way with family and friends. These days people travel from all over the country to go to a wedding and you want to make sure they have a great time and that costs money. I'm sure younger couples in rural Iowa for instance don't have the same level of sophistication and income than couples that live in a major metro area.
     
  21. My husband and I decided one day to just get married to get it over with. We went to a little old judges house in Tacoma, in the rain, and got married. Even though we only had two friends there to be witnesses, I am soooo sad we didn't take ANY pictures. I can't go back and look at the pictures to remind me of the little things I've forgotten. I think I'm psychologically damaged because although I've never shot a wedding I am looking forward to being the best wedding photographer anyone has ever seen. My husband even says I'm obssesed. :) Pictures are memories.
     
  22. "...to have beautiful documentation of their wedding day because it was all a "blur"."

    Mary, that is so very true.

    And as Marc mentioned it's about desire.
    People love to have pictures of all things beautiful.
    And for one of the most beautiful
    and special days of your life, wouldn't you want some pictures
    of it for yourself and to share with friends and family?

    When factored in with the rest of the wedding cost, photography
    is pocket change. But the results are forever.
     
  23. My first wife and I were married for 17 years and had 4 kids together. We could not afford a "good" wedding photographer and hired a cheap part-timer. One of his flash units failed and he did not notice. Consequently, most of the shots were unuseable.

    My wife died at age 34. What I wouldn't give for some good photos of our wedding day. Fortunatly, she went to a quality studio photographer for bridal shots. I contacted the photographer (who had closed her studio and moved out of state) and told her of my wife's death. She hunted through her old files and found the negatives from the bridal shoot. She was kind enough to send them all to me, free of charge. Those negatives are now "gold" to me and my kids and they are the only decent pictures we have of her (my wife was camera shy and never wanted her picture taken).

    Never underestimate the value of quality photography on a wedding day and think twice and three times before throwing out 20 year old negatives or digital files. You never know when a family might really need duplicates of those old shots of yours.
     
  24. Women plan their weddings for years to get each detail exact down to their nails,shoes,flowers etc,men get a haircut,put on a rented monkey suit & show up.Of course we dont "get it".We see wedding pictures for their utility or lack thereof.Women are romantics,men are not for the most part.As a career wedding shooter,everytime I push the button,I try to imagine the couples grandkids laughing at my work in 50 years.Wedding photography is a historical documentation of the beggining of a "family".It is also one of the few days that everyone washes,and gets "dressed up",making it a natural point in time for good photos.
     
  25. "I have been married for 29 years and have looked at my wedding photos once. The average American marriage lasts about seven years."

    Without making any insinuations about YOUR marriage, maybe if married couples DID look at their wedding photos (together) more often, the average American marriage (whatever that average is) might last longer...
     
  26. Jon, great idea!!! You could write a book "View your wedding photos often and stay married longer." I guess I could also write a book "View your wedding photos less often and stay married longer." Come to think of it, I don't think there is any kind of relationship between how often a couple looks at the wedding photos and how long they stay married.
     
  27. "Come to think of it, I don't think there is any kind of relationship between how often a couple looks at the wedding photos and how long they stay married."

    How could you possibly know? And who's to say? When we look at our wedding photos (one of which is always displayed on our mantle), it reminds me of our ceremony and the vows I took. My thesis is that more people might be inclined to KEEP the vows they took, if they THOUGHT about them once in a while.
     
  28. Jon, I am not totally disagreeing with you, I just think you have a more simplistic view of the importance of wedding photos than I do. I think that many couples spend way too much money on them and that their value is over emphasized by the "wedding industry". This is my opinion and you obviously don't share it. I have actually shot a few weddings but they were for couples that were interested in having some pretty non-traditional images. Just out of curiousity, how many years have you been married? I am going on the big three zero so you will not be changing my mind anytime soon. If something works, I stick with it no matter what.
     
  29. Hi, Tim. I'm not disagreeing with you, either. It wasn't my intention to make any commentary whatsover about the emphasis placed on wedding photos by the industry, nor the amount of money couples spend on them. I'm sorry if you think my view is simplistic, but I didn't intend to weigh in on the "importance" of wedding photos, either.

    I don't care if those photos are done by the world's foremost wedding photographer and cost a small fortune, or are taken with a Polaroid Instamatic by the bride's cousin and given to the newlyweds at no charge.

    My only point is that if the wedding photos just sit in their album, tucked away in a drawer, cabinet, or closet and never see the light of day, then it's a waste (and a shame), regardless what they cost initially. And I was adding my personal experience, that reviewing those photos occasionally with my wife, my family and/or friends, brings that most important day back vividly, causes me to remember and consider my vows, and makes our marriage stronger.

    I've been married to my (first) wife for nearly 14 years now, and I haven't the slightest intention to change your mind about anything. Congratulations on your nearly 30 years of marriage, and I hope that you and your wife are as happy together as we are!
     
  30. Jon,
    It's nice to end this thread on a nice note. I learned a few things and have a better attitude toward wedding photos.
     
  31. "Western judeo-christian society places a huge importance on being married and raising a family" - Leica Greigo

    "The wedding is pretty important in almost all advanced civilizations"- Marc Williams.


    Far be it from me to pounce on casual phrases in very well thought out responses, but marriage and families are and have been of primary importance in all civilization and cultures since recorded history and possibly earlier.

    Nothing to do with being "advanced" or "Judeo-Christian".

    ;-)
     
  32. Good one Mani, except it's probably a fairly advanced society if they use photography to
    record it (which is the subject of this thread). Early civilization most certainly placed
    importance on weddings, but rarely did 100 paintings of it, and put them in an album ; -)
     

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