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Engagement Photoshoots Are Turning Love Into A Spectator Sport

Sarah Mitchell |
February 13, 2015 | 9:11 a.m. PST


I can't call this one cliche, perse, but they've got this over-the-top ultra posed thing on lock. (@georgiacyccaayq/Twitter)
I can't call this one cliche, perse, but they've got this over-the-top ultra posed thing on lock. (@georgiacyccaayq/Twitter)
What do you think of when you picture marriage?

I think about Pinterest boards and a succession of women in flattering dresses kissing their fiancés as they place their left hand in perfect view of the camera lens.

“Engagement photos do serve a purpose. They are capturing a special moment, but I do think social media has helped the industry out,” said wedding and commercial portrait photographer Drew Osumi. “Women want to replicate Pinterest or Tumblr pictures and put them on social media. The photos do capture a special moment, but a whole photo shoot is not necessary.”

The culture around wedding photography is expanding and leading to cliché photos, overly posed couples, and an insatiable craving for Facebook “likes.” The root of the issue isn’t the photography itself, but about many couples’ motives behind taking the photos.

Osumi, through his years of photography experience, understands the importance of capturing the intimacy of a moment, but at the same time, sees the cultural phenomenon occurring around engagement and wedding photography. 

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“One couple supplied a list of exact shots they wanted. 150 different types of specific pictures they wanted me to capture,” said Osumi.

Osumi sees the value of wedding photos as classic mementos and memories of a life-changing day. “A couple thousand dollars is a lot for one day but those pictures will stay with you your whole life,” said the photographer, who charges around $3,000 for wedding photos and $250 for engagement photos. “It’s really an investment and the value is worth it.”

However, social media has fed an image-obsessed culture and pushed past the line of classic wedding photography to an industry of “trendy” couples and overly posed engagement photos. 

Marriage is, or should be, about the relationship, the bond and the commitment between two people. When do couples cross the line between wanting to remember a moment and wanting to share it for the purpose of bragging?

With this new age of social media, the line is blurred. 

Marriage was not always about love, but it was for a purpose - a purpose to live with security and financial stability, to bring status and connect powerful families. Women were given away by their families or chose themselves to live a life without love.

SEE ALSO: Going To The Chapel: Tying The Knot Without Breaking The Bank

Now, the evolution of marriage is backtracking to the idea that marriage isn’t just about love, but about serving a purpose - a purpose to prove something to your friends, to feel the satisfaction of seeing the “likes” roll in, to feel accomplished and superior - as if committing to spending the rest of your life with a person who would dedicate their life for you isn’t already an accomplishment. 

“You used to have the proposal between man and woman, but now it’s between man, woman and photographer,” said Osumi.

Maybe we should step back and focus on our relationships rather than our image and social media popularity. Maybe we should step back and look at the bigger picture. 

Reach contributor Sarah Mitchell here.



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