In the early days, way back in the year 2000, the conversion to digital by photographers was met with scepticism and doubt by many of my colleagues and friends. A doubt and scepticism not too far removed from the situation that happened over 30 years ago when Rupert Murdoch moved his newspaper business to Wapping. He fired anyone who refused to work with the new digital technology. The ‘unknown’ in both industries was the advancement of digital technology and the world-wide-web, known by everyone today as the internet. It was only a few years ago in the late 90’s; photographers didn’t have websites, emails or the ability to shoot digital files. So much change, and it has happened very quickly. Literally overnight.
The book, Contemporary Wedding Photography, albeit written in 2005 and published in December 2006 is about wedding photography at that time. An era when digital technology became financially accessible to photographers. Based on the Wedding Photography business of Julie Oswin, a professional photographer since 1994, the book includes advice on the preparation and planning of your wedding photography and has useful checklists, tips and provides step-by-step sequences to give inspiration and successful shooting. A lot of the content 13 years on, is still relevant today. The Photoshop section and editing part of the book is dated 2005, so in the grand scheme of digital technology, it was pretty much out of date when the book was published. The technology is nowhere near as sophisticated as the latest computers and the software we use today, including Photoshop and Lightroom.
Digital technology has allowed us, as photographers, to expand our creative repertoire, both in photography and in the presentation of our images. I was extremely doubtful of the new technology at the beginning of 2001. However, I had an opportunity to work with Epson Europe and Nikon on their stand at Focus on Imaging (now known as The Photography Show) held at the NEC, in March 2001. After the show, I decided to take a leap of faith and sold all of my ‘film’ camera equipment and converted to a Digital SLR, the Nikon D100. I never looked back!
With the advancement of technology for photographers, as exciting as it has been, there has been some significant ‘big’ casualties in the industry. Businesses that were sceptical of change who either decided not to take the digital route or were slow to keep up with the technology simply went out of business. As a full-time photographer since 1994, with the increase of competition for photography work amongst photographers, it has been sad to see so many established trade companies, friends and colleagues disappear from the photographic industry. As image makers we had to adapt to the new technology, we had to change our cameras and take on the role of processing our images and learn to work in the world of computers.
Digital technology has accelerated at an unbelievable rate since 2001 and wedding photography has become accessible by anyone who owns a digital camera. Gone are the days of medium format film cameras used by the majority of photographers at weddings. Today, the computer is the ‘light room’ and not the ‘darkroom’, software like Photoshop, Lightroom and album design software have all contributed to this. The ability to manipulate your images in post-production has been a no-brainer to keep up with technology and the industry.
Since the introduction of affordable DSLR cameras, wedding photography has become about storytelling, capturing the emotions and atmosphere of the day through a documentary style of photography far removed from the ‘classical’ wedding photography, without the additional cost of buying rolls of film and lab processing. In the ‘old days of film,’ it was the average to shoot 60-100 images on film; every shot had to count, and every picture taken used in the preview book and then the wedding album. It was inevitable that digital cameras became the go-to camera to photograph weddings. With the technology came the freedom to shoot as many images as you wanted without the additional costs of processing.
Wedding photography is a fluid environment for photographers and there isn’t any room for complacency. Gaining expertise and training with the ever-evolving technology and continuing to move forward within the industry is a must.
Stand still and the photography industry, together with digital technology, will pass you by.
– Julie Oswin