Hashtags & grumpy old men photographers: 9 ways modern wedding photography has completely changed

Guest post by Mike Allebach

Remember Mike Allebach's 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't? He's back with more professional wedding photographer confessions…

All photo (except for Buzz Lightyear) by Mike Allebach Photography
All photo (except for Buzz Lightyear) by Mike Allebach Photography

Weddings have changed a lot in the past decade. Gone are the mandatory white dresses, stuffy venues, cookie-cutter details, and cheesy photos. (Look, it’s your formal wedding portrait superimposed on a champagne glass!) The modern wedding has an anything-goes philosophy (which we love!) and loads of options that were barely on our radar ten years ago.

Whether it’s your second trip down the aisle, or you’re just getting bombarded with out-dated planning tips from your Aunt Peg, here are a few thoroughly-modern touches that you’ll need to consider today…

1. Gay weddings! (Oh myyyyy…)

Let’s start with the biggest change: after decades of fighting for the right to get married (and party!), same-sex couples finally saw the Supreme Court rule in their favor on June 26, 2015. Watching so many couples finally “get legalled” has been amazing. LGBT ceremonies are a hard-earned right, and that makes them more emotional to watch, period.


2. Smartphones smartphones everywhere


Ten years ago, we planned our weddings on flip phones. Flip phones! It was archaic. Now we have the ever-present device from which all life flows — and you can spot one in every. effing. photo. From guests checking facebook instead of dancing, to kids playing Angry Birds in the corner, to guests watching the ceremony through their screens, smartphones have taken over. And it’s inspired a pushback trend — the unplugged wedding, where there’s no chance grandma’s emotional moment will be blocked by an iPad.


For all the annoyances that come with smartphones, we have to admit that hashtags are a pretty badass addition to the wedding scene. Personalized hashtags are a great way to collect photos from friends and family, and your wedding photographer will probably join in the fun. Let’s be real, you may have found this article, or Offbeat Bride itself, through an #offbeatbride hashtag. In conclusion, #YASSS #wedding #hashtags #onpoint.

4. Off-camera lighting

Off-camera lighting magic!
Off-camera lighting magic!

File under great expectations: Gone are the days of using only available light to get “good-enough” photos. Wedding photographers should be prepared for any situation on your wedding day, and bringing ALL THE LIGHTS will let them keep their options open. Rainy day? Ugly prep room? Creative lighting can fix it.

5. The rebirth of film

Nine years ago, it looked like digital photography was going to make film obsolete. But film has made a comeback — not only has Star Wars saved Kodak, but many photography purists have embraced film (or at least found a digital preset to make their photos look like film). Maybe film’s not dead after all!

6. Offbeat weddings

Hi, I'm a blushing and tattooed bride.
Hi, I'm a bride with tattoos and pink hair don't care.

Obviously I can’t overlook this one. High five to Offbeat Bride and its readers for all the work they’ve done to change the industry and make weddings more personalized. When I started wedding photography, no one would dare to feature a tattooed bride in a magazine or online feature. Now, couples everywhere are showing off their offbeat side — blasting Dropkick Murphys at the reception, playing games instead of dancing, and so on. I might be biased, but I think this goes in the win column.

7. Professionally photographed elopements

This is what an elopement looks like now.
This is what an elopement looks like now.

Elopements aren’t new, but the idea of having them professionally photographed is becoming more common. Just because you don’t want your long-lost Uncle Albert at your wedding, that doesn’t mean your “tech savvy” little brother should be in charge of documenting it. Your wedding deserves stunning images, no matter how big or intimate it is.

8. First looks

As we’ve said before on Offbeat Bride, some of the best reactions come from the first look. If you don’t mind bucking the tradition of seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle, a first look can help your day flow more smoothly — you can finish formal wedding photos before the ceremony and can enjoy cocktail hour with your guests. More than half of my clients use this trick to organize their wedding-day schedule.

9. Grumpy Old Man wedding photographers

Okay, these guys were always a thing — but it may seem like there are suddenly WAY more stick-in-the-mud photographers. Why? Well, digital photography made it really easy to become a photographer, but running a business is as hard as it ever was. Photographers who charged too little or didn’t have their own artistic vision are suddenly feeling pretty jaded about the whole wedding industry thing. When you’re searching for a wedding photographer, make sure you find one who truly loves their job — and is ready and willing to embrace all the recent changes in the industry.

Let's keep this list going! Any industry insiders or wedding obsessives want to share even more ways modern wedding photography has changed?

photography: Allebach Photography

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Comments on Hashtags & grumpy old men photographers: 9 ways modern wedding photography has completely changed

  1. I think wedding photography used to only focus on posed portraits of the couple, wedding party, and family. While those still exist, I’ve noticed there’s a much bigger trend towards “photojournalist” style. The advent of digital probably has a lot to do with this, as it’s more possible to take chances with unusual shots.

  2. oh yes, the iPhone intrusion is real. my last wedding featured the mom of the groom holding one in the air from the front row end to get shots of the vows and every other highlight. i wanted to shout, hey mom, i’m back here!!! your son paid me well to do this for you. sigh.

  3. Grumpy Old Men. Really? I’m a man, I’m 56, and I wasn’t really grumpy till I read that heading.

    I think what you’re thinking of are photographers who have been working for years and have had trouble keeping up with changing trends. Age and gender have nothing to do with it.

    So here’s the thing. There is already a lot of ageism in this industry. Clients tend to hire folks that they relate to, and most people who get married are in their twenties and thirties, so it’s an uphill battle for those of us who are older. Using a term like Grumpy Old Man doesn’t help.

    I may be older, but I’ve shot 100 same sex wedding. I’m very active on social media. I’m hep! That’s what the kids today are saying, isn’t it?

    Seriously though, Grumpy Old Man is kind of offensive.

    Just sayin.

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