Photojournalism for Wedding Photographers: How Portraits Can Kill Our Creativity

I stood on a stage, facing 150 of the best wedding photographers in the world. This was the Fearless Conference, and I was speaking to colleagues I have admired for years.

“How many of you go home after a shoot, look through your images, and make yourselves feel terrible about what you shot?” I asked them.

Everyone in the room, it seemed, had a hand in the air.

Our creative world is dominated by storytelling images, moments that become ingrained in our memories and killer portraits. We work hard for 8 or 10 or 15 hours, but portrait hour is still inside our heads. Where will we shoot them, when will we have time to do them and what will the light be like, is a nagging thought while we handle all of the curveballs thrown at us on a wedding day.

I love a great portrait as much as the next creative photographer. Vast landscapes with tiny figures and entwined hands, gritty backdrops with quiet lovers and nighttime scenes with laughing couples, I love them all. But it’s not always guaranteed you’ll get this during a rushed wedding day, which leaves most of us feeling unfulfilled about our storytelling.

Like the other photographers inside this crowded conference room, I would shoot a wedding and silently (or loudly) moan about shots I had missed, moments that weren’t as strong as I had hoped, and portrait sessions that never panned out.

Watching a room full of photographers raise their hands in agreement about feeling negative about their own images made me realize it’s not about the portraits.

“The wedding was great, but we had no time for portraits.” This is a phrase I’ve heard and said countless times.

This only leads me to question, when did capturing moments not be enough?

I’m posting Nicole and Anthony’s wedding at the Bridgeport Arts Center because the wedding was great, but there was no time for portraits. This phrase is something I am happy to let go of in the future.

I actually won two awards from my coverage of this wedding from the Wedding Photojournalists Association. One award-winning photograph was of my clients looking like beautiful china dolls during their reception, and another award was for my photograph of Nicole’s mother’s emotional response to seeing her wedding dress.

Moments should be enough.


Want stronger moments? Let’s work together! My next Moment-Driven Photojournalism Workshop is September 13-14 in downtown Chicago.

Add a comment...

Your email is never<\/em> published or shared. Required fields are marked *

    follow @cusicphotoweddings

    Located in downtown Chicago.

    1821 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60622

    By appointment only