Ever see those retro art postcards from the 1940’s and 1950’s of lovers strolling down the cobblestone streets of Paris, arm in arm? Maybe stealing a kiss while seated at an outdoor cafe? Huddled in an embrace under an umbrella in the rain?
Those images are eternal.
Can you guess why?
It has to do with how they make you feel when you look at them but more about that in a bit.
First, it’s worth mentioning how some of the photographers who took those street scenes were bestowed the National Order of the Legion of Honour, the highest award a civilian can receive. It was given for their contribution to the arts.
And they awarded exactly because of the kind of photography I’ve described. They’re now among the icons of photography, their names etched in history as masters of the craft, photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, among others. You may have heard their names before.
So what is it about those photos that makes them timeless and worth a country’s highest honors… and what does this have to do with you?
Think for a moment about cheesy wedding images from the 1980’s, 90’s – even today. Back then they were cliché shots such as the best man mopping the groom’s brow as he anxiously looked at his watch, the bride fawning over her bouquet she held in her arms like a new born baby while the groom stood ten feet behind her watching on…
Today the clichés are the tightly cropped photos of feet to show the shoes the couple wears, brides and grooms jumping in the air, heads cut off in photos, holding hands while stiffly standing an arm’s length apart… I’m sure you’ve seen them.
But here’s something I’ll bet you may not realize:
These cheesy photos from the 80’s, 90’s and today aren’t near as old as the street scenes from the 1940’s. Yet the street scenes are relevant to us today, some 70 years later, while the photos from a few years ago already look out of date and out of touch.
Have you guessed yet why the older images endure? Why they’re iconic and timeless?
The photographers back then were artists/photojournalists looking for what they called the “Definitive Moment” to photograph. That’s the moment that tells a story.
Those photos of captured moments still speak their stories to us today, because their stories are real. And about emotions.
They weren’t cookie-cutter pictures or trendy shots or manufactured, contrived moments. When photos are routine and fake like that, they’re totally void of any emotions or genuine memories to them whatsoever.
They haven’t anything of substance. They only have the gimmicky pose going for them, which eventually has to go out of date.
Those types of shots end up on sites like awkwardweddingphotos.com because trendy photos become dated and awkward looking. And we laugh at them.
But timeless, emotion filled photos are about us being human and speak to our feelings and experiences, things we all share as people. In this way, those images transcend time. It doesn’t matter if you see the photo and it’s 1942 or 1978 or 2012 or 2112.
They transcend national boundaries and cultures. The emotions of love, passion, joy, tears speak to all people regardless of what flag they live under or what language they speak. We all share the human condition.
And at the highest level, these photographs are considered an art form.
So I know that wedding photos taken in the same manner today, getting the “Definitive Moment”,” when they’re about you and how you felt about each other, when they capture moments that speak about your heart, when they show us glimpses of your relationships with your mother, your dad, grandma… when they capture the spirit and flavor of your day… we know photos like these will also remain timeless and never, ever go out of style, never to be mocked or look dated… because they’re real moments, they tell true stories and are filled with genuine feeling.
And reality never goes out of style. Like these photos from some of my weddings:
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