My parents were married in 1965 and they have, what is by today’s standards, a modest wedding album of about 30 or so hand printed black and white prints mounted, one per page in a simple square album.
Call me an old romantic but through my childhood I was always aware of the album and really enjoyed looking at the pictures of a bygone age, a time before I was even thought of when my Mum and Dad were right at the start of their married journey together.
I loved looking at the old cars, the old fashioned clothing and seeing people who had passed away or aged or just marvelling at how young everyone looked. To me the pictures were like looking down a tunnel into the past, I was transported back in time.
The album languished in cupboards, under beds and in book cases for years and I last looked through it again a couple of years ago at my Mum and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. There was something incredibly special for me seeing what had really now become an historical document being pored over by friends and family and even, at one point, by all three of the bridesmaids from the wedding 50 years later.
Mum and Dad’s album has become part of my family’s history. It helps me put my existence into a context, it’s an expression of the foundation of my understanding of my heritage and upbringing.
It’s now irreplaceable and will hopefully stay in the family for generations to come. They will be able to ask who the people in it are, how they all fit together, who was related to who and where everyone came from.
A wedding album can be a great spinner of family folklore, a catalyst for conversation and a means of expressing and exploring our family heritage that is so fundamental to our understanding of ourselves.
I doubt that the photographer at my parent’s wedding had any idea of the importance and longevity of what he/she was producing but when I’m photographing a wedding I’m always acutely aware of producing an historical document. An heirloom of images for my clients that will hopefully become as potent as my parent’s album is in my family.
I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the here and now, the minutae of our current existence blinds us to the fact that today is a blink of an eye in a lifetime. In another 50 years time we won’t have computers and digital images as we have now. Our hard drives and DVD’s will be as ancient as gramophones and, if we aren’t careful, a generation’s digital photographic history will be lost.
For example, I have a photograph of my Victorian ancestors with a Victorian gentleman blurred as he moved as the shot was taken. His movement from over a century ago still leaps off the paper and brings him screaming into the present as you look at him.
Without that photographic print he would be lost forever.
I also have a postcard featuring a photograph of my great uncle in full army uniform taken a few days before he lost his life in the trenches on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. On the back he has written in pencil in shaky copper plate writing “memories of a sweet home”.
It’s literally priceless.
Without photographic printing today we are risking not passing our visual heritage to our future generations and we owe them more than that.
Yes, you may have hard drives and memory cards full of pictures and videos on your phone and social media streams chronicling your every move but these things are as fickle as the breeze and as intangible as vapour when compared with a shoe box stuffed with prints. Boxes of old slides and negatives and albums stuffed with history.
These are the things that get stored and kept, handed down and pored over. They smell and feel of history, they seduce us to explore, imagine and weave tales in the way that a jpeg on a computer drive will never do.
So yes, I passionately believe that you do need a wedding album. Something to hold, to turn the pages of, to smell and to feel, something to transport you, reconnect you, move you and support you in the dark days.
The albums I produce are beautiful.
They are the best of me, the most special thing I can do for my clients. Each is a labour of love, time, creativity and craftsmanship and I create them knowing that I’m making a time capsule. An expression of family and history that can’t be repeated.
But, even if you don’t go the whole hog and have one of my albums I urge you, at the very least to print your pictures for the future. Store them, horde them, prime them to be discovered and marvelled at by your great grandchildren. Imagine them asking questions, telling stories and piecing together their heritage through your life.
We all crave security. We all need to know why we are here, why we are like we are and where our roots are.
Photographs give us the opportunity to connect with the past in a way that no other medium can offer. They allow us to imagine, to create stories and to they fuel our imagination. A wedding album is one of the ultimate ways of expressing this and, to me at least, creating a fantastic album is one of the most rewarding and valuable things I can do for my clients.
If you would like a beautiful visual record of your day to treasure for the rest of your married life and to be proud of passing down to your future generations (no pressure there then!) – then GET IN TOUCH – I would love to hear from you.