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)