What Does Alternative Wedding Photography Mean?

What Does Alternative Wedding Photography Mean?

So this may look like I’m about to have a go at alternative wedding photography, or alternative wedding photographers.  But I’m not.  I promise.  What I’m more interested in asking, as I kick about on a Sunday afternoon, is What Does Alternative Anything Even Mean?  Can these labels mean anything at all when anything you can think of  has already been absorbed and incorporated into mainstream culture?  Type ‘alternative wedding photography’ into your Google images search bar and see what you get.  And if you can’t be arsed, I’ll tell you.  You get absolutely nothing alternative at all.  If you’re lucky you’ll maybe get a bride with pink hair, or couple with prominent tattoo sleeves.  But in a culture where so many people are dying their hair or getting heavily tattooed that it’s almost more alternative not to get tattoos, what do any of these terms really mean?  Alternative Wedding Photography is itself essentially a marketing term.  But what or who is it marketing itself to?  Almost everyone likes to think of themselves as alternative or different in some way and because of that very fact almost nobody is.  Late capitalist culture has created a world in which any form of rebellion is all but impossible.  How subversive can any act, art form, protest or music truly be if we already know that what the advertising industry loves most is appropriating all new forms of subversion to sell things back to our all consuming need to identify with the subversive and the new?  New subversive iconoclasts are are now so complicit in this they may as well cut out the middle man and got straight to work for Nike.  The term alternative wedding photography always makes me think of Camden which was long ago absorbed into the mainstream to become a kind of Goth Disneyland.  It sells countercultural ideals to people with enough money to buy off-the-shelf countercultural ideals.  So then what is alternative wedding photography?  The answer, there’s no such thing.  But that’s interesting in itself, right?  Something to ponder for a few minutes at least.

NB.  I also could have been a lot more concise if I’d written: Alternative is no longer alternative to the mainstream, but a dominant mode within the mainstream.

Technical details for the photography wonks:

Camera: Mamiya 7 II

Lens: 80mm

Aperture: f6.3

Shutter speed: 1/125

Film: Fuji Acros 400


  1. Ginger Berry

    Hi Nick,

    I am gearing up to shoot my 4th wedding ever in 10 years of making photographs. I have only shot for friends and I primarily shoot with film and digital but I always have to brush up on my digital knowledge before hand. Your work has reset my nerves and has inspired me to look forward to doing this again. I have very little experience using flash, so I always get overwhelmed when the situation presents itself I will be shooting in Las Vegas at an outdoor venue that has a main feature of neon lights. The wedding is in the evening. What is the simplest flash set up you can imagine using for this sort of situation? One flash on camera? I’m hoping so…. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Nick Tucker

      Really sorry. Only just seen your comment. Feel free to email me if there’s anything you still want to ask…


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