Monday, January 30, 2012

This Is Not Vintage Wedding Photography


Noa got a lil bee in her bonnet about.... Well, you'll see. And she asked me if I'd let her write a post.

I said FUCK YES. Obv.

I have been shooting "vintage"-inspired photography since I was at least 14 or so. As one of the first photographers in the alternative wedding industry to be labeled a "Vintage Photographer," I was proud and happy to see that people were categorizing my work this way and that they were clearly able to see my influences. 

But in the past few years, the Alternative or Vintage Wedding thing has grown into its own mainstream. And once something is mainstream it doesn't need a name anymore, except for maybe "mainstream." It's kind of like what happened with the alternative music scene back in the 90's: eventually every band started sounding "alternative" and everyone started listening to that type of music, which made the whole thing NOT alternative anymore.


The way the word "vintage" is used lacks accuracy most of the time, and can actually suppress creativity, as opposed to how it helped open a new route for creative expression back when I started....  If anything is slightly inspired by a bygone era, we slap the word "vintage" on it. 

If you score a beautiful wedding dress from the 1930's on Etsy, it's a vintage dress. Awesome. If you use mason jars for your centerpieces, it's not vintage, it's Martha Stewart. There is nothing vintage about the balloons in your engagement photos. Air plants aren't vintage. If you process your digital images to look like film, well so does everyone else these days, so let's not call it vintage. And if you shoot actual film, that's not vintage, it's film. If you found some fabric from the 1960's to use as a backdrop, that fabric is vintage. If you have a tattoo, that's not vintage, it's a tattoo. If you throw a swing-dance-party-themed-wedding, right on, but it's Retro, not vintage. If the vibe is Old Hollywood Glam, then call it Old Hollywood Glam. If you and all your hippie friends run around naked in the forest and eat shrooms after your ceremony -- your wedding is a Hippie Wedding (and you NEED to hire me to shoot that!). If you have a photography site and you are influenced by old photos, we should be able to tell that by looking at your work -- you don't have to tell us it's vintage. Please reduce the use of the V-word. 


And, I would like to present the following idea to all creatives in the industry: what if you remove the word "vintage" from your info/description page on your web site (unless of course, you rent actual vintage items out or something) -- would you still feel fully confident that your work speaks for itself? 

Since "vintage"-influenced wedding design/style/photography is now fully mainstream for us, isn't it redundant? If we don't use it to describe our own work, we can have more freedom to be influenced by anything, and therefore we can have more space to allow our creativity to go wherever it wants to... Which is how this whole current movement began. I propose we use "Progressive Wedding Industry" instead. I like that, and it's accurate.

Vintage used to be a word that signified imagination. It meant that interesting and artistic people could actually express their own taste, personality and ideas in their non-traditional & non-generic weddings. This "new" (ironically, the exact opposite of the word vintage) wedding movement was an alternative to the boring, traditional weddings that were leftover from the 90's and all the cheesy things that went along with them. Nowadays, we're all creative and everyone is influenced by old stuff, so it's embedded into what we do. Therefore making the V-word superfluous.


If you are using the word "vintage" to describe anything but an item that is actually old, you are probably overusing the word. If you frequently use the term "vintage-inspired," you are probably, no definitely, overusing it.

(All photos by Noa Azoulay-Sclater of Feather Love)

91 comments:

  1. !!!!!!!!!!
    thank you for that.

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  2. An excellent post. Thanks, Noa, for actually putting this in a way that reflects exactly what I've been thinking. With vintage hitting the main stream I've been wondering about moving away from my own aesthetic because who wants to be main stream? However they'll move on to the next thing and I'll continue to be influenced by the things that I'm influenced by, bits of the past, lots of the present and a whole loads of other stuff. I think if you're doing something because it's the fashion, your work will come across as shallow and superficial but if you're doing something that is true to you and who you are it will endure.

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  3. First off, I am not an artist or a member of the "creative class." While I certainly agree with the sentiment of this piece, here's another (undeveloped) thought:

    When we talk about "modern" art, doesn't that generally mean the 1950s-70s? I think I was at the Beacon gallery in Poughkeepsie, NY which focused on modern art in that period. At some point, art was later featured as "post-modern" and then "contemporary," if I recall correctly. Are we still in the "contemporary" period? I don't know -- I bet you do.

    So even though we call our time period today "modern," the art of today would not be called "modern."

    I think the same can be said about "alternative" music. Yes, alt did become mainstream, but it was its own type of music that had the same title/name/noun of Alternative. Everyone was copying Green Day (or GD copied everyone else) to create Alternative music, in the mainstream. Maybe if we capitalize it ("Modern" "Alternative") then it is separated from what is modern (today's time period) or alternative (separate from mainstream). Any type of music that falls out of the mainstream (blues, dubstep) could be lower-case alternative because it is not Popular Today (Katy Perry, blerg).

    Can we extend that thought to vintage? -- I agree that an object that is several years old can be labelled "Vintage" without complication. But can't we call it "vintage" (lower case!) if someone is going for that feel, without owning "Vintage" (caps!) items?

    Thanks for hosting this article and forum, ESB.

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    1. Just a quick comment on modern, postmodern, and contemporary.

      Modern art and postmodern art are artistic movements. Modern generally does refer to art made in the late 40s-70s, and postmodern generally dates after that time. But an artist can create modern art or postmodern art today if they follow the artistic principles at work in those movements.

      Contemporary does not define an artistic movement, but rather refers to artists who are still living.

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    2. So if the same logic is used from the art discussion, and repurposing your sentence: "A wedding planner can create vintage weddings today if they follow the artistic principles at work in the vintage style."

      Maybe? Perhaps Noa would disagree. I'd like to hear the counter argument.

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    3. I think the difference is that weddings from older eras weren't trying to be "vintage." Weddings back in the day were mostly a product of their contemporary times (with arguably some splashes of romanticism and tradition).

      Vintage style is something different than actual vintage.

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  4. right on, especially re mason jars (and the list should include wooden stumps as cake stands, frames hanging from trees, mustaches on sticks, postcards, bunting etc = NOT VINTAGE)

    but one thing I have to quibble with: retro defines the fashion/style/trends from about 20 years back. So an 80s theme would be retro, while a 1920-30s swing dance theme would not. But I do agree on the overuse of 'vintage' to define people's styles, it could be hollywood glam, or Gatsby inspired, or a jazz speakeasy theme if they wanted to be specific. vintage just becomes a catch-all for anything when it's used so ubiquitously.

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  5. Cheers. Because aren't ALL THE THINGS now "vintage"? (Though v-word totes made me think of vachach.)

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  6. aside: "vintage," "pre-owned," and "used" are all turning up in the same word salads these days as well. the aforementioned '30s wedding dress: vintage. the docs you found at buffalo exchange: used. san francisco, i'm looking at you.

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  7. Can someone please send this to Ruffled Blog?

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  8. Agreed. My husband can't stand when people use the word "hippie" to refer to anything aside from the specific subculture in the 60s. I can see why "vintage" would inspire some similar frustrations, especially in the photography business.
    And by the way, gorgeous photos.

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    1. Tell him to move to Berkeley. He might change his mind. ;)

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  9. awesome awesome post. Noa rules, end of. i purposely try to NEVER (ok sometimes it slips out) use the V-word in blog post titles. it actually makes me cringe a little...even if the whole damn thing was put together by shit the bride and groom found in their grandmother's attic.

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  10. Cheers to "Progressive Wedding Industry!!"

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  11. You'll probably be bored with this wayyyy before I am through, so there you go. She might be your bff, if so, oh well.

    I was excited for today's post. Really. But I quickly became unexcited as I read it. So does she have a time machine? She calls herself a vintage photographer. Really, she takes pictures from way back when and develops them years later? And is she trying to say old stuff that people like is somehow not old anymore because a lot of people like it now? Things are only vintage if a select group of people like the things? If people that use old stuff in their wedding can't call it a vintage wedding how can new pictures of anything be vintage photography?

    My biggest annoyance with this post? I'm glad you asked. It is the paragraph that starts, "vintage used to be a word that signified imagination. It meant that interesting and artistic people....." You know what that says to me? It says, 'I'm a pissed off hipster that liked something before it was cool to like something. Now that everyone else has learned to appreciate what I used to appreciate it is actually crap. It was only cool when no one else thought it was cool. Now I have to go through all this work to find something uncool to like.'

    For the record I see the term vintage as a big joke. Maybe I just don't get it.

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    1. i agree with the middle but of rob's comment- i don't understand how, by definition, any picture taken now is "vintage". but i'm totally up for an explanation.

      and vintage is vintage. it is something, an object, that is old- no? being mainstream, popular, or trendy does not make or break whether something is vintage. it is vintage because it is old, no matter how many people at any given time are inspired by said object- yes?

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    2. agreed. thank you, rob.

      if noa hates 'trends' so much, why be in the wedding industry - an industry that is essentially built on trends?

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    3. Rob nailed it.

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    4. WORD, Rob.
      Is East Side Bride a bride?
      Does 100 layer cake have 100 layers?
      Being annoyed that the "mainstream" is using vintage; therefore we need to stop using vintage and oh by the way that's not vintage- makes my head hurt.
      I look forward to seeing Noa's pictures whatever they are called.

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    5. Yeah, totally with Rob on this. I do sympathize though; being an enormous book nerd, I can get pretty fired-up over correct usage ("biweekly" and "begging the question" come to mind). That said, this felt a little illogical/overkill (heh, I think I'd be nervous to hire her-- I'm sure I'd slip up and use "vintage" a few times).

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    6. Guys, I think you misread this post. Noa describes her photography as vintage-inspired, not VINTAGE. There's a huge difference. My wedding dress was made of vintage fabric. Is it vintage? NO. My engagement ring is circa 1920 with its original diamond, and came in its original box. Is it vintage? YES.

      It's pretty safe to say that if you got married after 1989, you didn't have a vintage wedding. If you build a house to make it look mid century modern, it is not vintage. If you buy "vintage-inspired" dresses from anthropologie, your style is FAR from vintage.

      The word "vintage" has been absurdly bastardized, and for someone who is in the business of selling vintage clothes, it fucking sucks. You know why? Because all of a sudden, Mad Men is a huge hit, Banana Republic starts a line of Mad Men-inspired clothes, and now all of a sudden, everyone and their mom wears "vintage". It devalues my inventory... Makes it not as special. When the truth is, BR has nothin' on "real" vintage.

      But, alas, the real lesson here is that vintage, real vintage, is not what everyone thinks it is. It has nothing to do with being a hipster. It has everything to do with knowing your shit. I don't try and pretend like I'm an expert on running now, do I?

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    7. very well said & explained, lady. i do appreciate the clarification. & i'm dying for you to PLEASE add antique jewelry to your shop!

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    8. I love Rob.

      Triple.

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    9. Totally agree. There are a lot of "photography snobs" out there, no offense, but this article makes you sound like one of them. Your photography was inspired by someone at one point, so does that make it less relevant? Art is progressive and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is it not? I love your work, but I feel like this post was a tantrum over other photographers being inspired by you and you feeling threatened by that. I would take it as a compliment. If we get technical, you aren't technically vintage either because you are alive in this present time, making you contemporary with a "vintage" style. Same thing as what you are "standing" against in this post... Just sayin ;)

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  12. I think you are defining the word 'Vintage' incorrectly. You are implying that the word is a synonym for 'Alternative' with the antonym being 'Mainstream'. However, 'Vintage' is a totally separate concept from that idea, with its antonym being 'modern'. With that being said, I'll have to agree with Rob, in that your disdain is for the popularity of the style, and not for the incorrect use of the term.

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    1. I don't think you got what she was saying - not to speak for noa, but I don't think she ever called herself a vintage photographer. She was saying that when she started out, other people (writers? editors? clients?) categorized her alternative wedding photography style as "vintage" and she was cool with that because it was being used as a term to differentiate what she was doing from standard, cheesy wedding photography. But now she's become annoyed at the word because it's become bastardized and mainstream - practically everything is now referred to as 'vintage.'

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    2. hallelujah! somebody actually read my post. thanks hk! :)

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    3. (oops, i meant that comment for Anonymous...)

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  13. noa, i get the problem. really i do. anything with a certain.... something... has been labeled vintage or vintage aspired.

    but calling yourself a "vintage photographer" as rob pointed out (no matter how early on you were doing it) is part of the problem.

    anon 10:48 makes a great point. i do think it applies here. and, no, not all photographers are "vintage inspired". many strive very much to make photos that are timeless, and not dated. therefor i dont think that the use of the term (when done so correctly) is superfluous.

    but the real problem here is your attitude. rob nailed it. my add on ""vintage used to be a word that signified imagination. It meant that interesting and artistic people....." um, no. it MEANT OLD SHIT.

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    1. ""vintage used to be a word that signified imagination. It meant that interesting and artistic people....." um, no. it MEANT OLD SHIT."

      oh how i laughed. pretty much EXACTLY my thoughts on it too!

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    2. my exact feelings.
      It usually meant, smelly old shit.
      Smelly old cars, smelly old shirts, smelly old wine.
      No photo is vintage if it's taken on a digital camera and run through software. Not even if you use an Atari.
      Fuck vintage. It's just a load of smelly old shit.
      I'll stick to taking photos in the here and now. And thankfully they don't smell bad.

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  14. Oh great. Now that I've read this, I'm going to NOTICE it now, & it's going to be my pet peeve. WHILE I was reading this post, I was watching an episode of "Color Splash" (the "inspired by the Peacock Garden Cafe" episode) and I lost count of the number of times someone said "vintage" at 10. Lost count.

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  15. I admit I was a little confused by this one too. On one hand the overuse of "vintage" became kind of a joke while I was planning my wedding (every time I found something used for decoration or whatever I would exclaim, "this totally reflects the unique vintage style of us as a couple!" which no one except me thought was funny) so I kind of get being annoyed by the term, but based on the teaser in the previous post I thought this would be more of a primer on what you should really say instead of "vintage" if you are after a look of a certain era. Like, oh you want drop waist dresses and feather headpieces? That's the 20s! Not this sort of wandering rant about how I used to be vintage but now everybody is vintage so it's no longer vintage and by the way I saw Vintage play in the basement of my friend's house in 1992 way before everybody else even heard of Vintage...

    I do like the photos though.

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    1. @Maggie, yes. I thought this post was going to be something along the lines of... "how to articulate (to your wedding photographer) the desired 'vintage-inspired' aesthetic you hope to achieve... and what that actually means."

      Let me preface this by saying: Obviously, Noa is amazingly talented, and her photos speak for themselves.

      But, I've got one foot in @Rob's boat in regards to this post. From the get-go ("I have been shooting vintage-style photography since I was 14"), reads, to me: "I was here first." And I sensed this annoyance that it has become mainstream. Yeah, it sucks when things we feel are "ours" become mainstream; it feels like they are less special. But, in this case, I actually think its popularity would be good for your business. Rock the hell out of the "vintage photography" label. If they want "vintage," give 'em "vintage". Just do it better than everybody else - which clearly you already do!

      And I completely see @Celia's point, as she is a purveyor of authentic vintage apparel. You DON'T want somebody else sticking a "vintage" label on something that is merely thrifted, repurposed and resold. Vintage it ain't. But people in the market for real vintage can tell the REAL from the fake. Same thing with Noa's photos. People can tell you're the real deal, girl, no need to worry.

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    2. I wasn't saying it was vintage. It's a mere suggestion that it was produced from a vintage garment. If you haven't noticed the item is in the HANDMADE category. I know what vintage is and if it becomes problem I will remove the "label." I clearly state in the description is was made FROM vintage jeans.

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  16. A lot of folk use it as it gets more interest/hits... I do sparingly - I have designed 'vintage inspired' cakes from images of actual old stuff (dresses/lace/jewellery etc) Can't do actual vintage cake, would taste rank. Wedding industry does love a band wagon...

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  17. haha-- to all the people who are disagreeing, did you actually read this post? how do you not see that what you are saying is exactly what i am saying. weird. srsly. read the post.

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    1. OMG Noa, reading the article is like, just, so vintage. ;) XO

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    2. bahahahahahaha!! trust my gay boyfriend to come in and preach the TRUTH! <3 u ZNSD xx

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    3. I don't know, man. If you write something and almost everyone doesn't get what you're saying, maybe you didn't say it right.

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    4. Or maybe they're not hearing/reading right?

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  18. Since "vintage" is a word used in the wine industry to speak about the age or year of a wine, and has only recently been used to describe "anything old", everyone is off the mark here.

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    1. although you are right in the fact that it is has only more recently been used to describe "anything old", as a person who owns a vintage [clothing] shop and is married to a sommelier, i think it's safe to say that in modern language, it would be considered a homograph. such as "bat" or "down". i mean, don't we all speak modern english anyway?

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  19. Just a little correction on the commenters on your art history: modern art started in the mid-19th century. Impressionism is the first modern art movement because it deviated from tradition and focused on the process of art rather than using art solely as a mean of representation. This is important to us photographers because it was the invention of photography that actually allowed modern art to come into existence. (Tried to reply to the strand but wouldn't let me, sorry).

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    1. Fair point. But most museums do not include work that far back in their "modern" galleries. We could debate till the cows come home when modern actually starts.

      I could be persuaded to amend my statement above to say that modern became a substantial movement in the teens and climaxed between the late 40s to 70s.

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    2. Modernity isn't really the same thing as abstraction, or even Modernism (which is maybe what you're thinking of?)

      Yeah you can split hairs but art historians do date the modern art period from the 1860s in Paris: Monet, Degas, Pisarro, Toulouse-Lautrec are all considered "modern" and I'd call Impressionism a pretty major movement. At least that's what my good professors and books taught me, and they're all smarter than me, so.... Something to do with the detached gaze, contemporary subject-matter, changes in Paris, new painting techniques. I bet the people who loved it from the start all got royally pissed-off when it became mainstream and they started making cheap calendars and ripping it off.

      (side note, this topic got me reading my critical history of nineteenth-century art. Turns out this shit's much more interesting when you aren't stressing about it).

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  20. @Erica- "I look forward to seeing Noa's pictures whatever they are called.". you can see some of my pictures in this post above, more can be seen on my site or my blog: www.featherlove.com, and i just call my work "photography"... and on my info page i refer to the types of weddings i shoot as "generally non-traditional & non-generic"... but mostly i refer to those weddings as "beautiful"

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  21. Thanks for the post Noa..an interesting read and I really admire you having the balls to voice your thoughts on this issue..a little controversy is always a good thing..spice things up a bit!!! :) I really like what you say about liberating ourselves creatively as photographers by removing this overused label. I'm a big believer that there's actually little need for any artist to describe their style of working in words as the work itself should do all the explaining there needs to be x

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  22. okay, first off, Noa, that third photo, in particular, is STUNNING. Love your work. Now my piece: I think I can safely say that 'Vintage' in fashion, in wine, in decor, means 'of a particular era'. We could even go further and say that that era has to be more than 30 years ago, although that seems a bit arbitrary to me. To be accurate, this label means "It actually came from that era". Right? This is what Noa is saying. In fashion and decor this is super relevant. In photography? Unless I am talking about the chewed-up polaroid from my parent's camping trip, I should really say 'vintage-inspired' because that's really what we are talking about. ANd yes, I do think that that phrase actually has meaning. And yes, I do think it is mis-used. 'Vintage' or 'vintage inspired' both are about nostalgia for the aesthetics or craftsmanship, or even the incidental technological limitations of a particular time. I mean, seriously, if the photos in this post aren't 'vintage-inspired' in a general sense, they are definitely 70's inspired. In art we are always nodding to and borrowing from other eras. And in this time of digital fanciness, photography can be glossy, slick, perfectly clear down to the last pixel. But for those of us who loved the photo's in our parents shoe-boxes, we understand that the technology limitations of that time actually gave those images a super-unique quality that is in many ways more interesting than the look I can get on my digital camera. Most photographers now have the option to shoot digital, but many shoot with their old polaroid 600's or whatever, not because they HAVE TO, but because that shit looks awesome. When people use the word vintage, what they mean is 'Nostalgia for the craftsmanship of another era'. And that is beautiful, mostly. Then again, it's only in a framework like this that a bunch of washed-out, 'I can't really figure out what I'm looking at but I can tell it must be hip' wedding photos are all the rage (I'm not talking about you Noa), in a time when we are capable of getting the most crisp, clear, bright images in history. For our parents, I think they were just looking to have a nice clear picture of themselves in their fancy wedding duds, so that later their kids could laugh hysterically about Dad's handle-bar mustache!

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  23. SO I follow your work Noa - and thank you for your post!! the overuse of 'vintage' everything and ditto alternative does my freaking head in.... xo

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  24. I don't see why noa writing this means she has 'balls'. It's not exactly a major newsflash that this word is overused. EVERYONE overuses this word. But I do kind of think Rob hit the nail on the head. The subtext of this post is, "I did this first so let's draw up the bridge so that no one else can cross the moat." That's silly. As long as the work looks good, who cares how it is described. You can call your party planning vintage inspired all you want. if it looks good, that's all that matters. Do I agree that perhaps people should get a bit more 'inspired' with their word choice? Sure. It's a good challenge for any creative. By the way, the pictures in this post are beautiful. nostalgic. retro. vintage inspired. whatever. They are lovely.

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    1. @lucia i have no idea how people are seeing this supposed "subtext". i clearly stated that when it was a "new" thing, people called it vintage because that was essentially the major inspiration behind it, now that it has grown into it's own mainstream, we can find another, more accurate term for it (my eg: progressive) since "vintage" is now being used in this industry inaccurately and to describe basically everything. I really don't know how you guys got this other supposed subtext out of this, but whatevs. and honestly i think a LOT of people have been thinking this same thing as me, you're right, it's not a newsflash. i agree with the rest of what you said, and thanks for liking my photos!

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    2. I agree that most of your ideas are parallel to the comments people are making. Here is my issue with the word or aesthetic of 'vintage': its too vague. When people say 'vintage' inspired, how the hell do I know what era/time/location they are referring to? A few people above have mentioned art history. The 1920's in New York did not look the same as the 1920's in Paris. One specific decade, two different places, many different ideas and concepts in art and history. I think my beef is that I just want people to be more specific and accurate in their terminology instead of using this vague veil of a term.

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  25. This just sounds like a bunch of whining to me. Sorry instagram made it easy to throw a filter on a photo. Keep innovating and stop labeling yourself.

    K.

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  26. I feel the SAME WAY about the use of the word Anthropologie, which is a store, not an adjective. I understand the desire for the tangible, the nostalgic, in this modern, digital age, but there comes a time when use becomes abuse and people need to take a Xanax and stop going utterly apeshit with every trend, idea or inkling they see online. Subtext or no, it can be frustrating as an artist when a medium you help pioneer hits the mainstream & suddenly every other person with a camera decides to capitalize on the trend, thus diluting what you worked very hard to create. It's the photography equivalent of those fake Louis Vuitton bags-there are so many fakes, having a real one can make you feel just as cheap.

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    1. minus the child labor and links to organized crime.

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  27. Yay! FINALLY!

    I'm just tired of seeing the word vintage. Vintage IS mainstream.

    I don't think many will update their About Me's to "I'm a mainstream inspired photographer..."

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  28. amen. god i love this site

    I worked in a vintage clothing shop for 4 years and the biggest nightmare was the bride-to-bes who came in looking for a dress for their "vintage inspired" weddings(often while decked out in TJMaxx and Ugg boots).... they would get through an incredibly detailed description of, essentially, a jcrew dress, and then we would send them there, all while they insisted that what they were looking for really was vintage and why couldnt we just pull out that exact dress in their size/price range etc.

    and thus, I also truly love vintage things, but hate the dreaded word

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  29. I do understand why collectors/fashion shops would be very frustrated with the misconception of "vintage." That makes sense to me.

    As a wedding photographer in a little state where it's JUST NOW becoming popular for brides to use mason jars {we're about seven years behind California in trends}, I know from my stats that brides are looking for "vintage photography(er)" on Google.

    I honestly don't think my photography is vintage. I stopped using actions a couple years ago, I like a more timeless + romantic + clean photograph. However, when I blog, I write in "vintage" everywhere I possibly can for search engines to eat me up. I figure that if it sends brides my way, it's up to them to decide whether they like my work & want to hire me. Brides aren't experts... I'm sure other vendors can relate to hearing a bride say one thing, but after she explains herself she is really wanting something different. Or what she picks in the end is the opposite of what she said she wanted. They just want a photographer that captures their day in a style they like. As long as what I give them matches what I advertise, it's good. {It would be messed up to show brides Noa-esque pics & promise "vintage photography" only to give them a bunch of prints with absolutely no retouching/camera on auto}.

    I definitely use the label "vintage" to my advantage because it helps pay my bills & buys diapers for my kids.

    Love discussions here.

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  30. I ♥ this post.

    also, has anyone else noticed that since this post was written that the former MAJOR v-word offender 100LC hasn't used that word, like, at all?

    again, i ♥ it.

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  31. I am glad someone finally openly comes out to bash on vintage crap weddings. Yeah it was rad before because it was innovative and creative. Now a bunch of fuck tard wedding wannnabe professionals are trying so hard to make it some sort of staple. Hey honey i totally know what type of wedding you want...its in our vintage glam package for the bride that loves vintage glam! Your mason jars are lame, your mustaches arent cute, your vintage flea market frames are stupid. Stop using the word if you dont know the true meaning.

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  32. great article, well articulated from someone that obviously know what they are talking about, very refreshing , I wish this view was as well known as this vague adjective that people use _"its vintage' - no its not !!; )

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  33. I've ended up with a vintage inspired business that was borne out of me taking the piss out of 'vintage inspired weddings'. I got so fed up of all the vintage stuff that was floating around when I was planning my wedding that I ended up arranging a photo shoot that was pretty much a send up of the usually faked style I saw couples employing (cupcakes, balloons, chalk boards etc). But because of the context in which I did it (for my Hen Party/Bachelorette party) I generated a lot of interest and I ended up creating a website off the back of it.
    Now I battled with using the word 'vintage' because I agree nowadays it's pretty meaningless but when you're working in an area like mine where ideas are so entrenched and trying to get people to think about doing something different is a battle, you sometimes need to go with the easiest concept for people to understand. I think overtime I want to drop the vintage reference as it becomes increasingly uncomfortable for me to see it, but for the time being it's about trying to shape the market and this is quite frankly the easiest way to do it. (don't shoot me)

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  34. The 'I was here first' mentality is just as tiresome as the use of the word vintage.

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  35. @rob and all those on his boat- I wrote: "Vintage used to be a word that signified imagination. It meant that interesting and artistic people could actually express their own taste, personality and ideas in their non-traditional & non-generic weddings." ie: used to be a word that signified imagination IN THIS INDUSTRY. Not a name I gave it, a name that was given to it. how do I know this? because I have been in this "alt" wedding industry since the beginning & watched it grow. Also "She calls herself a vintage photographer." -- actually I wrote this: "As one of the first photographers in the alternative wedding industry to be labeled a 'Vintage Photographer'," -- key word "labeled", meaning other people called me that (blogs etc), I didn't label myself vintage and I still don't, that's kind of what this post is about too. like in the part where I suggested that us creatives remove the V word from our bios since it's not necessary anymore.
    and @anon 12:14 & @clickclickbangbang- "vintage means OLD SHIT", yea i know. in fact i wrote a whole article exactly about that. It's in the piece of writing right in between the title of this post, and the comments. (eg: "The way the word 'vintage' is used lacks accuracy most of the time").
    And yea so I was influenced by Man Ray when i was 14- who cares? And why is that a problem? Tons of photographers where influenced by other old dead photographers.
    Again, this post was about the INACCURACY & OVER-USE of the V word- I never said we shouldn't EVER use it (I supplied a list of examples on how to use the word accurately and how not to), and I never said I didn't like "vintage-inspired" weddings or trends or mainstream etc, I said quite the opposite. I was trying to suggest ways for the industry to not get stuck in itself but to actually continue to grow creatively, which I also said was a good thing. Having to re-quote so many of my own words means that many people didn't actually read this post before commenting.

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    1. Whoa, defensive much? "Having to re-quote so many of my own words means that many people didn't actually read this post before commenting"...or they disagree with you, or take something different away from the piece than what you intended to convey. This happens all the time in writing, even for professional writers. It doesn't mean the readers are idiots, or didn't read it. That might be the case, but it also might be that you phrased something ambiguously, or they're responding to tone, etc., etc. You are trying to promote yourself and your work here, yes? Relax a little; saying that people must not understand/not have read it if they disagree with you isn't necessary.

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  36. Everything becomes mainstream at some point... Isn´t it then just time for a change?
    It´s like denying your own succes. You make something that is so cool that everybody else want´s to make it too. Isn´t it always like that?? We all wan´t to be like someone else, the cool, arty, gifted one?
    If you really are a true artist (which I think you are) then be proud of what you do and don´t give a f... about what others say. Re invent your style if you feel that you are no longer "different" enough..

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  37. Thank you Noa for this post! We've seen the word vintage everywhere in the wedding world...but is it just being overused or is it a new concept of its own behind an existing word?

    We actually used to be Vintage Glam Weddings. We changed the name Ruffled years ago because we saw where that word, in the wedding world, was headed. Ruffled grew into a blog that now goes way beyond vintage-inspired ideas, but we've always tried to keep the word vintage in our tagline because from the get-go we shared ideas from all eras (plus a little SEO doesn't hurt anybody), hence the broad term. The v-word in itself is a trend, and yes, it's everywhere. It's fun and exciting to use it for everything at the beginning, but then people move on to other words and expressions. I for one used it a lot for a while to describe nostalgic handmade weddings, but then we move on.

    The "vintage" trend, in the wedding world, didn't catch until 2009 and what we it come to call it vintage today in the wedding industry morphed into something else. It's the vintage as in nostalgic and handmade. Could this particular movement perhaps be happening at a time where the recession was at its worst? The vintage weddings we've come to know are consistently done on modest budgets and share a similar aesthetic. What the wedding industry calls vintage is not vintage as in 20 years or older. We all know that, but we do know what aesthetic someone is referring to.

    The same thing goes for photography. I agree 100% with Noa. There is no such thing as "vintage photography" , but we know what kind of photographic style people are referring to if they say vintage-style. Also "Vintage-inspired" photography, like weddings, is what people make of it. They may take bits of inspiration from photographers from different eras, but their work is unique to their creative talents. How they may describe their own work is subjective. Substitute the word "vintage" photography to "modern" photography. You may not feel as sensitive about a "modern" photographer because the word isn't used as much, but the description is just as subjective. Modern is just an example, but you can try using other words.

    Like Andria Dozier mentioned and is worth mentioning again is the SEO aspect of using a popular word. If you have a website, you will want to use keywords your potential clients are using on the web. I understand Noa's urge to call it something else, but if no one is searching for progressive wedding photography, then you may be alienating potential clients. I can call a wedding "neocraft" and not "vintage" like I have in the past, but if no one instantly understands what I am referring to, then all I'm really doing is alienating my audience. We can't change someone's own definitions, because it is already in people's minds though we can strategically phase out an overused word.

    Just tossing it out there... If a certain word is popular to the point we're seeing TV hosts use it when referring to that same concept of "nostalgic handmade", perhaps it's a broader topic on how we communicate. If people are using a word to define something other than its determined meaning, and if you still understand what is being communicated to you, then is it really misusing a word? When do words become words or when are slangs created off of an existing word? If it's millions of people using the same word to define the same thing, is it really just overusing it or is it it's own thing aside from its original meaning?

    Love Noa's work!

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    1. well put Amanda! these are great points, thank you. And I agree, for SEO purposes of COURSE we should use words that people search for, I use vintage a ton on the back end. I was talking more about describing our work as creatives/artists (aka "vendors"- ugh I hate that word too ;), and that we could start to use other words that might catch as well, just like the V word did. but yes. You make a really good point! Thank you... oh and I love Ruffled blog too, but you already knew that since i'm constantly submitting my work to you :) x

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  38. Great. Now that we have that sorted out, can we move onto how un-rad it is to call everything rad?

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  39. One last GEM from the Noa archives:

    "...i shot that session as more of a nude/vintage/art/shoot...i have been shooting nudes since I was like 14. before people started calling them "boudoir".

    --Noa, in the comments section on ESB's "boudoir shoot" post

    Sound familiar?? Apparently Noa did EVERYTHING at 14, WAY before all the rest of us lame-o's!

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    1. Good research Anon! You dug deep, I'm glad you have that kind of time. Now that you mention it, I did do a lot when I was 14. Like just off the top of my head- I dropped some acid, my house was shot up by South African guerrillas, I moved to another country on my own, walked on fire, meditated barefoot on a block of ice & listened to Jane's Addiction... But I certainly did not do Everything. And don't stress, none of that makes you a lame-o... I can provide you with a list of some other things I did or some photography from back then if you need evidence in your extensive research thesis?- Just let me know. Can't wait to read it! x

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  40. YES YES YES! Every once in while I cruise through posts on Wedding Gawker and always feel so sad to see the same buzz words used over and over again: vintage, rustic, DIY, mason jars, raffia, bunting..... On their own, there is nothing wrong with including these elements into your special day, but why not just call a spade a spade and refer to your wedding as what it is - completely cookie-cutter, but no doubt satisfying and special nonetheless.

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  41. Vintage refers to the status as well as the age of a piece. A wine is only vintage if it was from a particularly good crop, then reserved for some years...or a car that was particularly fanastic in it's day and therefore preserved by enthusiasts.

    If you don't know who (or what company/brand) made your 'vintage' items, chances are they are just old items.

    My dislike for the v-word is entirely this. your wedding dress may be old,but unless you know it's origin, it may well be old and cheap (surely nobody wants something that is not only old, but cheap to boot??)

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  42. love this. so so so much. you nailed it, so glad to see you share our thoughts.

    Some day weddings will be cleansed of the big "V", but until then i will be bringing my "V-Douche" to every wedding for a proper cleaning.

    no more burlap please.

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  43. is this really the appropriate place for calling out someones lack of "creativity" ? If they don't like your work, it doesn't really matter how authentic you may think it is, nor does it matter what it is called. This just seems like some middle school b.s. banter of " i liked that band before you, therefore i am cooler than you." great! wonderful! makes me not want to read this blog anymore. how fucking pretentious.

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