About Trends in Photography – David Williams

Wedding photography is a reflection of the times we live in. However, this does not mean it should be trendy. Just because you have the tools to alter an image in Photoshop doesn’t mean that you should. Take a step back. Look at the work of the Masters and learn what makes an image timeless.

Norman Parkinson Print

Photo by Norman Parkinson

A few years ago, I attended the ‘Almost Alone Workshop‘ with Australian photographer David Anthony Williams. It had a profound influence on my approach to photographing weddings. It reinforced my personal style and helped me realize the relationship between the images I create for my clients and the cycles of their lives.

David recently shared with me his thoughts on trends in photography. After my recent Photoshop post production techniques article, I thought it was perfect timing to share this with you.

Let me tell you what worries me…

So many photographers buy the gear, buy the programs, buy the action sets and think they’re a photographer capable of shooting professional standard work. Where do I see the gaps in this?

Great photography has always been about sensitivity, feel and LIGHT.

I worry for so many photographers who go with the quickie wham-bam-thank-you-maam-buy-my-DVD/action set seminars and don’t learn and appreciate the fundamentals of light and scene appreciation. There is so much “I’ll fix it in Photoshop”.

So what are these people going to do when the current trend is over? … (and make no mistake, the over-processed look will finish)

Let’s remind ourselves that cutting edge in wedding photography thirty years ago was the bride and groom super-imposed into a brandy sniffer… then the bride and groom on the back of a Harley with sunglasses… more recently, spot coloring on Black and White.

But this WAS cutting edge at one point.

Let me quote two names to you: Norman Parkinson and Richard Avedon (books on both you should have in your collection!) You will observe that apart from the obvious give-away of clothing fashions — the work is timeless and not trendy.

David Anthony Williams

Wenda Parkinson

Photo by Norman Parkinson

Richard Avedon Print

Photo by Richard Avedon


Timeless and not trendy. Something all of us should aspire to in our very important work.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Interesting read, thanks for posting.

    You mention “apart from the obvious give-away of clothing fashions” … fashions come around time and time again, in some form or another (yes, even the God-awful 80’s LOL) and so “timeless” is a relative term … some clothing is “timeless” (I still have my trusty pencil skirts)- a great photo will NEVER go out of fashion (read: Henri Cartier Bresson, Mario Testino, to name a couple).

    But here’s the thing … were these photos “trendy” for their time?

  2. Agree. But then a girl IS allowed to crow over classy clothing ! LOL

    Too many photographers these days try to polish mediochre images within PS … isn’t it a joy to get them bang on right in-camera?

    These are beautiful images, Randy, thanks for pushing me to yet another great book purchase (or 2) 🙂

    FWIW, I still think these photos / poses were ahead of their time.

  3. Thanks for the comment. I think that we are talking about two things here. Fashion and image making. The point David was making is that these fashion images are NOT about a reflection of trendy photographic technique. It was about the content of the image, the way it was framed, the simplicity of black and white and the beautiful light.

    These photos are NOT over processed. They are not cross processed or toned or retouched apart from the original vision of the artist. They are timeless in the sense that they are not a reflection of the photography trend that was present at the time. It’s about sensitivity, feel and LIGHT!

  4. It is interesting to note that even with trends, things come back in style. What makes one trend timeless and classic. Why do certain clothing items never seem to go out of style? Something to ponder.

  5. Two of my very favorite photographers, Randy… thank you for sharing David Williams very valid worries.
    Form and light will always come first and we have to see it before we can photograph it.

    Ever seen Lillian Bassman’s work?
    She had the form and the light in her original works but decades later took some of them into the darkroom bleaches and made stunning new work out of stunning old work.

  6. David is a class act, some of his ideas regarding family portraiture as family heirlooms have stayed with me. Still meaning to check out some of the classic fine artwork for posing and lighting ideas as well.

  7. Found my way here through DWF Randy. This post is spot on, and very timely (in a timeless sort of way).


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