Photography and weddings go hand-in-hand. A wedding is an event to be remembered, and photographs are the physically lasting evidence of the special day. While it is most common to have a delegated photographer for your wedding, it can be equally as enticing to have your guests photograph the event, and to do so yourself. By having members of the wedding do the photography, you are ensured to capture images from within the wedding as opposed to images simply of the wedding. This can add an overwhelmingly genuine feeling for the resulting photographs—not always possible from a hired photographer. Furthermore, it is also a fun activity that encourages participation and allows everyone to be a part of the event and to contribute to your memories.
The issue with having everyone play photographer at your wedding is that not everyone is a photographer. Our roundup focuses on tools that don’t require any special skills and that are geared for maximum simplicity and fun. By utilizing these tools, focus can be drawn more to interacting with the event rather than trying to figure out how to use a specific camera. Toy cameras and instant cameras are incredibly easy to use, and even if you’re not familiar with them, they require only seconds of explanation. They also inherently lend a unique quality to your images that can be playful and highly appealing. And they tend to be quite inexpensive—an important factor considering you might want to stock up on several for numerous people to use during the wedding.
Toy cameras have become quite popular recently, mostly due to their nostalgic appearance and the images they produce. They represent photography as simply as possible. They’re usually entirely manual, with light-safe housings for you to expose film at limited selections of shutter speeds, apertures and focus points. These restrictions might not sound attractive at first, but in view of their intended purposes, they definitely allow you to focus on the moment at hand and participate rather than spectate.
Arguably the prince of toy cameras is the Holga 120N; and the princess is named Diana. This couple represents a tremendous marriage of lo-fi photography and resulting beautiful imagery. Both cameras accept medium format 120-size film and offer the option of 12 or 16 shots per roll. The Holga records images at 6 x 6cm and 6 x 4.5 cm, respectively, whereas the Diana is a bit daintier and can record 5.2 x 5.2cm or 4.2 x 4.2cm-sized frames. Both cameras, with their lenses included, are constructed of plastic, for a dreamy, ethereal quality. To better suit indoor wedding photography, both cameras also support the use of electronic flash. The Holga 120N features a hot shoe for use with almost any on-camera flash, while the Diana is available in a bundle that includes a flash. Another Holga—the 120FN—is available with a built-in flash for a more streamlined aesthetic.
For a bit more control over your imagery while still garnering the benefits of the lo-fi approach, a range of TLR (twin lens reflex) cameras is available from Blackbird, Fly, as well as the Lubitel from Lomography. These cameras allow you to manipulate your focus and exposure more, compared to the Holga and Diana. They also feature much more accurate viewfinders for tighter control of image composition. Blackbird’s TLR cameras accept 35mm film and allow you to shoot either square or regular 24 x 36mm frames. The Lubitel accepts 120 and 35mm film and features a glass lens for greater fidelity and sharpness than other toy cameras. These TLR cameras do require a bit more work and attention than the Holga and Diana do, and they require someone at the wedding to focus on the photography for a moment. But their retro design is sure to pique the interest of a number of wedding guests.
Lastly, there is even an option to record movies in a similar simplistic and nostalgic fashion. The LomoKino is a film-based movie camera that accepts standard 35mm 135 cartridge film. What is so unique about this camera is its entirely manual operation that is controlled by hand-cranking the film. Approximately 144 frames can be captured per roll of film, and taking into account that your average frame rate will be 3-5 fps, this camera is able to produce 30- to 45-second films with a quality reminiscent of City Lights. Such short format is perfect for creating a series of vignettes depicting crucial moments of the wedding.
Equally simplistic in functionality as toy cameras are, instant-film cameras have long been a fun and interactive way to photograph an event. Their obvious appeal lies with their producing instant, physical results, without the need to process images after the reception. Instant photographs from Fuji and Polaroid also have the ever-appealing nostalgic factor that can lend an immediately memorable notion to your pictures.
Combining both toy camera and instant-film technologies, the Holga Polaroid Instant Film Back, or aptly coined portmanteau, Holgaroid, is a tool for making instant pictures by using your Holga 120N or 120FN. This device includes all of the necessary accoutrements for transforming your toy camera into a highly unique instant-film camera.
Along the lines of a more typical instant-film camera, the Polaroid 300 Instant Film Camera is a straight-forward camera that accepts Polaroid 300 instant film for 2.1 x 3.4” prints. The Polaroid 300 is available in black, blue, red and purple to suit a variety of decors and wedding themes.
Similarly, Fujifilm offers a range of instant film cameras all featuring an ergonomic design and built-in flash. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 50S is the most advanced of its lineup and features close focusing down to 1 foot, and exposure-compensation settings. The Instax Mini 25 is more modest with its feature set, but does feature a built-in self-portrait mirror which could play a large role in having the photographer interact with the wedding party as much as possible. Fujifilm also produces the Instax 210 Instant Film Camera, which accepts larger, 3.4 x 4.25”-sized film.