Ever see those street photos from the 1940s of lovers strolling down the cobblestone streets of Paris, arm in arm? Maybe stealing a kiss while seated at an outdoor cafe? Huddled in an embrace? I believe those images hold the key to how to make your wedding photos timeless.
Think for a moment about the posed shots you've seen in your parents' and relatives' wedding albums; some common shots in the '70s, '80s, and '90s were the best man mopping the groom's brow as he nervously looked at his watch, the bride fawning over her bouquet she caressed in her arms like a newborn baby and, of course, the obligatory double-exposed shot of the wedding couple superimposed over their ceremony. They were cute the first time around, but by now, they tend to get mocked because they've become cliché.
Today, some of the stock poses are of tightly-cropped photos of feet that showcase the shoes the couple wore, brides and grooms jumping in the air, and heads cut off in photos at the neckline showing only the torsos. I'm sure you've seen these, too. And they were cute the first time around as well.
So here's something to consider: These later photos are actually getting as cliché as the photos from the '70's to '90s. And none of those photos are as old as the street scenes from the 1940s, yet the older street scenes are still relevent to us today — some 70 years later — while those photos from recent years already look out-of-date.
Have you guessed why the older images endured so well? The photographers back then were photojournalists looking for what they called the "Definitive Moment" to photograph; the moment that tells the story. And the stories those photos told were of real couples in love doing what real couples in love do. They were authentic; they contained real moments and honest emotions. They weren't about the pose or about doing something gimmicky or trendy for the camera's sake.
Here's the thing: We all react to stories and emotions. It's like a common language all of us understand. Look at a photo of a baby or a puppy and it can make you smile. A photo of a mother grieving in a war torn land can make you cry. We're human. We're all wired to respond to emotions.We all share this universal human condition. When we see moments which resonate within us, we're moved. But when images are contrived and manufactured, they're totally void of any real meaning or emotions. We may like them on a superficial level when they only have a gimmick based on some trend going for them, but when that trend fades, there's nothing left in the image of much substance, and so it has nowhere to go, except to look dated.
The images which speak to us about humanity, about reality, the images that make us laugh, cry and say "awww," those photos continue to speak to us. And they speak to us at a very core level. Because of that, they speak to everyone, everywhere. They transcend borders. They transcend cultures. They transcend politics, religions and languages. And, since their message speaks to anyone of any generation, they transcend time. The emotions and reality in the image are what make it timeless.
And here's the irrefutable proof right in front of us: those images from the 1940's endured so well they're now considered iconic. No wonder. Fact is, reality and emotions are two things which are naturally impossible to go out of style.
Here's how to infuse reality into your wedding photos to make them timeless.
1. Don't play to the camera. Don't stop what you're doing to do something affected for the camera. In fact, pay no attention to the camera at all. Instead, live your real moments and permit the camera to witness it.
2. Be in the moment. Be fully present, open and immersed to each second of your wedding day. This gives you the fullest experience of your day. That also gives your photographer true real moments to photograph which will contain unique and deep personal memories.
3. Speaking of the photographer, make sure they're skilled at this approach. You can't be immersed in moments if your photographer is the kind who continually pulls you out of them for their shots, directs all their shots or depends, on trends for ideas to photograph. Look for someone with the skill set to get the "definitive moment" kind of images.
—G.E. Masana, a NYC-based wedding photographer
Probably the only wedding photographer in NYC coming from the art world, G.E. Masana's roster of wedding clients have included magazine editors, models, art directors, actors, opera singers, cinematographers, fashion designers, graphic artists and photographers. He's been seen in Bridal Guide, Town & Country, New York Magazine, among many more. He currently writes about weddings for Huffington Post. A sought-after documentary wedding photographer, he's been interviewed by the two leading international professional wedding photography journals and was awarded by the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers. To see more of his work, visit gemasana.com.