Clichés of Wedding Photojournalism

Back in the seventies and eighties there was a photography convention that was all the rage. My future mother-in-law has pictures like these (unfortunately, I couldn’t procure them for the blog, so I’m using others’ examples)—perhaps your parents do too. What is it? Why the fab-yoo-luss double-exposure, of course: 

Source: perardi's flickr stream (




How artistic and sophisticated and cool, right? 

I’m not sure where the trend came from, but when I googled “double-exposure” there was a lot of mention of 70s/80s album covers, so perhaps it was a broader media-marketing trend that made its way into private use—as is common with a lot of trends. Including—dum-da-dum-dum—today’s wedding photojournalism. Which is something that I agree, looks so fabulous and chic and smart today and therefore I predict will be precisely the kind of thing your kids will laugh at in fifteen years. I can hear it now: “Mom, what was with you guys in the millennium? Why did everyone take pictures of their shoes??” 

Source: photograph by Viera Photographics via (I cropped it)


Now, I say again: I love photojournalism. But let’s not kid ourselves. We’re in a peculiar place with weddings where everyone is trying—desperately—to avoid being cookie-cutter; thus, there’s a strange paradox emerging wherein taking liberties with the old wedding conventions is now in itself conventional. Photography does not escape this. The crux of wedding photojournalism is that for a style that is supposed to be natural and celebrate spontaneity, it’s got artifice and clichés all of its own. And admittedly, it would have such clichés, both because wedding photography is a business and trends mean dollars but also because the American wedding has developed so many contemporary rituals, that even if the event is shot in photojournalistic style, no photographer’s going to skip the big kiss or the teary-eyed Maid of Honor. Nevertheless, there are a few that seem distinctly of the 2000-2010 vernacular: 

1. An engagement session that involves balloons: Bonus points (or penalty, depending on where you stand) if it’s one really big balloon and it’s pink. My guess is some photographer or couple used Lamorisse’s French film The Red Balloon as inspiration (which is a smart idea) and it caught on. It’s cute and playful, but the ‘00s big balloon is today’s version of the 80s Diana-inspired challah-sized puffed sleeves. And while not quite as common but cutting it close are engagement sessions involving bicycles, picnic quilts, or…(see #2) 

2. An engagement session that involves children’s books: Particularly if one of them is anything by Shel Silverstein and the other is Curious George or Little Blue and Little Yellow and you’re laying head-to-head on a park bench. 

3. The Reservoir Dogs groomsmen shot: This is when the groomsmen all wear sunglasses and fan out on the street like they’re some kind of black-tie gang of WASPs. 

4. The Pink Ladies bridesmaids shot: The female companion shot to the groomsmen Reservoir Dogs shot, only it may showcase flip-flops, colorful heels, and/or personalized hoodies instead of sunglasses. 

5. The visual synecdoche: I am not quite sure what this is about, but it suggests to me that a child or a very, very short person took the picture. Here are the bride and groom’s torsos (bonus if the groom has on a funky tie). Here are the bride and groom’s hands. Here are the bride and groom’s shoes (bonus if the bride is wearing Chuck Taylors or cowboy boots and if the guy is wearing sneakers or socks in flourescent madras)…Maybe the couple can make a kitschy collage with all the proofs after the honeymoon.   

6. A bunch of people, jumping: Because who doesn’t feel like jumping in mounds of taffeta, heels, cummerbunds and bowties? Boy, you must be really, really happy. And just so we know you’re green, flash a peace-sign while you’re at it. 

7. And gosh, it pains me to say this because I love it, but—Fisheye lenses: Oh, but you know that this is the exact reincarnation of double-exposure for the new millennium, don’t you? 

Ah, well. I’ll probably get all these done anyway–what’s progress anyway if your kids can’t laugh at where it all began? 

Say cheese! 

Source: photo by Max Wanger via (I cropped it)


About Kim

I live in LA (LBC, baby), write, study, cook, and make things. I'm a crafter who likes antique stores. I'm a new mom, new homeowner, newlywed...And I am indeed on a shoestring budget.
This entry was posted in Design, Musings, Weddings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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