I am very curious to know how international photographers in the olden says such as the 70's or 80's or older, work. How did they deliver albums or photographs to clients?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The olden days were the 1920s -30s-40s. ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Sep 16, 2016 at 6:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ha ha ha ha, yeah that too Michael :D \$\endgroup\$ Sep 16, 2016 at 6:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Olden days ? Olden days !!!! Cheeky young whippersnapper. Come here and let me thrash you with my stick. Too far to hobble. The effrontery. Astounding! !!! ! :-)| No, I don't have a stick :-). I was married in 1974 fwiw. And still am. Our photographer used 35mm. He had a penchant for arty not overly large Black & White prints. Colour happened too, but more B&W than I would have liked. Where's my stick ...? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 16, 2016 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ hey you kids, get off my lawn! \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Nov 7, 2016 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


Very hard, just as they do now. There were far fewer wedding photographers who travelled internationally than it seems there are now. It seemed to be more of a localized profession for all but those working for the most extravagantly wealthy clients (think the royal families of Europe) and the most famous photographers who weren't necessarily famous as wedding photographers.

Expectations, governed by the technology available at the time, were different than they are now. This was true both in terms of the numbers of delivered photos and the types of photos that were possible.

With Medium Format film, which was the predominant medium at the time for top wedding photographers, it cost about $1 US or more every time the shutter button was pressed. This was strictly the cost of film, developing, and a "proof" print. This didn't include the photographer's cost of equipment or their time and skill.

After the event the photographer would have printed a set of "proofs". The proofs were small prints of the possible "keepers". They would either be sent to the client, via mail or other means, or hand delivered by the photographer or a representative. Sometimes the clients would come to the photographers place of business to view the proofs. Such an appointment was known as a proof session, as opposed to a posing session.

The client could peruse the proofs and decide which ones they wanted to have printed in larger sizes, in sheets (such as is still common with school photos - a sheet of several wallet sized photos, 4 3x5s, 2 5x7s, etc. of the same pose printed on a single sheet), or added to albums. Albums were usually nothing like what you see today which are basically limited-production-run books. Rather, they were holders that held a number of prints. The prints were usually anywhere from 4x6 (three to a page - two vertical and one horizontal), 5x7 (two to a page), or full page 8x10 or even 11x14. Most albums were a mix of pages with large prints and other pages that held several smaller prints.

The process of sending the proofs to the clients, giving them time to select the ones they wished to have printed and included in albums, doing touch up work on the selected photos, and then making the full sized prints and assembling the album could take months.

As far as actual delivery goes, they used postal or parcel services which could also take weeks or even months if shipping to remote places halfway around the world.

A few personal examples.

My parents were married in 1960 in the Southeast United States. They were both from what could be characterized as "working class" or lower middle class families. The photographer at their wedding shot maybe a dozen and a half photos of the ceremony. Many of them, such as each bridesmaid entering the sanctuary, were staged immediately following the actual ceremony. There were a few posed family portraits, and a handful of photos at the reception, mostly of the cake cutting, tossing of the bride's bouquet, etc.

This would have been fairly typical for most middle class weddings in the U.S. at the time. Not many wedding photographers then were expected to show up at the crack of dawn, document all of the preparations by various groups early in the day, do group portraits of various combinations of the wedding party, shoot the wedding ceremony, spend an hour or two doing group portraits of family and friends, and then cover a party into the wee hours of the morning.

By the time my sisters were married in 1985 and 1993, many wedding shooters were part time "weekend warriors" using 35mm film in consumer cameras with (hopefully) high quality lenses. One of my sisters and her groom had a friend who was such a "semi-professional" photographer while studying a different subject in college to shoot their wedding. My other sister's wedding was shot by a full-time pro using a mix of MF and 35mm. In both cases the photographer lived and worked in the same communities as the couples. The number of photos delivered to both were significantly higher than my parents a generation earlier, probably a couple of hundred or so. But it was nothing like the current expectation of several hundred to a thousand or more edited images such has occurred since the explosion of digital photography.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I was talking to the assistant in a long-established local camera store and he told me of Saturday mornings in the 60s when wedding photographers might come in and buy one roll of medium format film to go shoot the wedding they were doing that day. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Sep 16, 2016 at 8:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was one of the "Semi-Professional" photographers in the early 90s. Michael's comments ring very true for me. He failed to mention, crying brides, flower girls knocking over lights, drunk uncles, and church officials who said "no flash, stand here during the ceremony don't move", and since I used a mail-in print shop to print the proofs, the angst of hoping the post office didn't loose them... \$\endgroup\$
    – BillN
    Sep 19, 2016 at 23:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BillN All of that other stuff is still in play. Except it is now UPS you hope doesn't lose or mangle your prints. Tracking numbers do help, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Sep 20, 2016 at 3:33

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