Facts, figures and fantasies as recalled by a Derbyshire Wedding Photographer
As I drive along the beautiful winding roads of Derbyshire (there’s only one stretch of motorway in the County) on the way to a wedding or to recce a venue, sometimes my mind drifts back over forty years, when my experience of being a wedding photographer began… (cue time machine music and swirly screen effects)
Back in the day
You know, it doesn’t seem that long ago since summers seemed longer and hotter, the sun shone all the time and all local churches seemed to have a constant stream of couples being strewn with confetti as they held hands and sauntered down the church path smiling between the tombstones!
Wedding photographers differentiated themselves from all other guests by carrying a large twin lens reflex camera, possibly a tripod and a light meter dangling from the neck, and a brief to shoot, at the most, 36 photographs on the big day! Things seemed different in those days!
Well, it was in the late seventies that I started as a wedding photographer, working in and around the London area for a large wedding company that photographed over one hundred and twenty weddings on a single Saturday!
Have things changed so much? Or was I wearing rose-tinted John Lennon style glasses as I squinted through the ground-glass screen on my trusty old Mamiya C330?
Fact or fiction?
Let’s look at the facts…
We’re told that the climate is now warmer. Fact. Global warming. So that part must be my imagination!
What about the rest? Have things changed much for me as a photographer, or you as a wedding couple?
Yes, things have changed for me as photographer. For a start now I’m based in beautiful Derbyshire!
And here’s some just a few interesting figures about changes in weddings and marriages over the past few decades (using the latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics):
Four fascinating things about weddings
1. More photographers than ever are chasing a diminishing market!
It is true that more people got married in 1972 than in any other year! Since then there has been a gradual decline in the number of wedding ceremonies until very recently. In 2012 there was a slight reversal in the decline, which was again scuppered in the 2013 when there was a dip again! It was thought to be the effect of the number thirteen appearing in the year. Unlucky for some, especially photographers!
2. Brides to be! You’re getting older and wiser and have the money!
In the 1970s, over three quarters of brides were aged under 25. What this meant for the wedding industry was that usually the total cost of the wedding was borne by parents. How I remember well finishing off a booking presentation in front of a log fire, with a whole family looking longingly at the 8×6 inch prints sparkling in their brown album sleeves, with Dad shaking his cheque book out of his pocket to pay for the photography. Nowadays a whopping 86% of brides are over twenty-five years old, the average age being 34 for a woman! So now, much more often than in the past, the working bride and groom are the purchasers of photography!
3. A different sort of spirit!
Less than one in four weddings now has a religious ceremony. The spirit of the lord has given way to the spirit of the bar, with more couples choosing ‘approved premises’ which are likely to host the whole of the wedding from preparations, to ceremony and then reception
4. It’s still popular to be married!
Yes, whichever way you look at it, getting married is still very high on peoples agenda, with the number of weddings at present in the UK being about 250,000 per annum. Nowadays, with approved premises allowing choice of venues, same sex marriages, churches still being welcoming and becoming more flexible, couples can be freer in the decisions they make, about how they would like their big day to be. After all, it is the first day of the rest of their life!!
So, I’ll pop my rose-tinted specs away, put my antique twin lens reflex camera back in its glass museum case, and get my latest digital camera ready to take, not thirty-six, but up to one thousand photographs at the next wedding!!! All in the sunshine, of course!