Chrissy and John surprised everyone at their Chicago tent wedding… no one knew it was a wedding!  What everyone thought was an engagement party turned into a beautiful outdoor wedding, including a dog adoption on site!  The best thing about being around puppies?  Everyone is extra happy!  And one little doggie found a new home, with a wedding vendor!

I asked Chrissy and John to describe their day:

How did you meet and what do you love about each other?

We met when we were 18 our freshman year of college through a mutual friend. Neither of us were looking for a “serious relationship”, but had an instant connection and quickly found ourselves falling in love. We haven’t looked back since. I love that John is clever, romantic, strong, and tender. He is always so generous with his time, actions, and thoughts for anyone who needs him. He is the only one that has the ability to make me feel cherished, beautiful, and loved- all of the time. I love Chrissy for her strong will. She is fiercely intelligent and confident, something that I hadn’t seen to such a high degree before I met her. She challenges me to be the best I can be, and is supportive no matter what the task. Loving each other has always been so incredibly easy because we laugh together, dream together, surprise each other, support one another, and challenge ourselves.

Why did you choose this venue, this city and your vendors? 

We never really thought of getting married anywhere else but my (bride) parents’ home. As a couple and as individuals we have felt so supported and love by our families that it only made sense to get married on land that held great memories, friendships, and reflected the importance of family in our lives.

We tried utilize our community for some of the vendors, all the beer was supplied by our local brewery that was opened by members of our community. The coffee was supplied by our local non-profit coffee shop in town. The cake was made by my sister, and our potted plants and landscaping were done by company whose owner was taught by my mom in SundaySchool. The other vendors started falling in place with the help of Kate at Chicago Vintage Weddings. We gave her our ideas and the vendors did an amazing job to deliver. Vendors – Evil Horse Brewing Company, Edge Coffee House & Roasting Company, Priority Landscape, Hearty Boys Catering, Blue Peak Tents, Atmosphere Events, Soundtronics. One Tail at A Time Dog Rescue

What moments do you treasure most from your wedding? 

The fact that we pulled off the surprise was great. We originally told guests and family we were getting married at a later date and this was our Engagement Celebration. We really wanted to throw a great party for our friends and family with no expectations or obligations of a traditional wedding. Seeing the reactions of our guests and having the opportunity to talk with them as the night went on made the months of planning worth it. I will never forget seeing Chrissy come down the hill with her Dad during the ceremony. It filled me with more emotion than I thought it would, and I think the guests could all feel it as well. The entire thing went by so quickly that I barely had time to look around, but one moment I do remember was looking up with Chrissy while the ceremony was finishing up, and seeing everyone smiling, including our dog laying who was watching from the aisle.

I truly treasure the whole weekend in my heart, but one of the moments that sticks out in my mind is when John’s cufflink broke. He had a mother of pearl cufflink that he purchased for his suit and one of the ends broke when he was putting them on.  Instead of trying to super glue it – my idea- my Dad had a pair of my grandfather’s cufflinks that matched perfectly. I cherish the memory of my Dad putting the cufflinks on John and then helping him with the studs for his shirt. It was perfect.

I also hold close to me the silence my family and I shared before we walked down the aisle. Having surprised my sisters and Dad with the ceremony that evening (and boy were they surprised!), they did not have much time to digest the whole event. John did not want to see me in my wedding gown, so we waited in a separate room until he walked down the aisle. There was a very raw, emotional, and beautiful moment of silence that filled my family while we were all together for the last time before I was married. So much happiness that we didn’t have the words to share, so we were just there together in that moment.

Seeing John’s face as I came down the aisle was incredible. If I could relive that every day for the rest of my life, I would.


Thank you so much, Chrissy & John, I had an incredible time documenting your day.  I wish you nothing but continued happiness (and puppies!)

Wedding Planner: Kate Lerman, Chicago Vintage Weddings

Associate Photographer: Chris Murphy

Caterer: Hearty Boys

Florals/Lighting: Atmosphere Events

Dog Rescue: One Tail At A Time

Tent: Blue Peak Tent

Sound: Soundtronix

Refreshments: Dark Horse Brewery


I was so excited for Amanda and Brandon’s Los Angeles Griffith Observatory engagement photography session, I watched La La Land on the plane to California!  This was my first time visiting Los Angeles, and I’m happy to have to have had the opportunity to photograph engagement sessions for two sets of clients (including David and Brian!)  It was a beautiful weekend, with terrific light and temperature, which my California friends have plenty of, along with loads of mountains and hills!  We don’t have a ton of hills in Chicago!  🙂

Amanda and Brandon were such troopers to jump at my suggestion we photograph the sunrise!  I met them (and their happy dog, Gatsby) at 5AM and we caught the Los Angeles sunrise in perfect time.  I’m so pleased to share their Griffith Observatory engagement photographs, and even prouder that we accomplished all this before we had any coffee!  We also visited The Broad Museum and the super funky Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles.  I asked Brandon to write a few words about how he met Amanda, his words are included below.  Thank you so much, you two!  I can’t wait to document your wedding!

“Amanda and Brandon met in the elevator at work, not long after starting at the same Los Angeles architecture firm four years ago.  They became fast friends after discovering shared interests in comedy, design and movies.  A year later, Brandon brought Amanda a perfectly timed breakfast sandwich and they have been inseparable ever since.  Brandon proposed in their Los Feliz apartment, surrounded by their art, pajamas, and a very handsome Shih Tzu named Gatsby.  Their love centers around laughter, unapologetic silliness and cheese.

Amanda grew up with a big yard in Lincolnshire, Illinois, and thought it would be the perfect venue for a backyard wedding.  Sharing such a special event with family and friends will lend another layer of meaning to the family home.  They plan to have a big tent, good food, handmade objects, backyard games, and a lot of fun!”


  • Brenden - I love the LA cityscape in the background. It must have really worked in your favor to do the engagement photos in the morning, I’m sure in the evening the Observatory is crowded with people.ReplyCancel

  • Corey - Such a gorgeous engagement session! I love the different Los Angeles locations – so fun!ReplyCancel

  • Allison - I think the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is the coolest location for an engagement photo session. This couple looks like they are a lot of fun and the architecture suits them.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Super cute LA engagement session! Love that you took inspiration from La La Land!ReplyCancel

  • Robynn - Hi Candice,
    I love your pictures that Amanda and Brenden. I am a cousin of Amanda’s and would love to put together a collage of photos for them on a pillow as a keepsake for their wedding. I was wondering if I could purchase some photos from you in order to do that.
    Thank you,

I so loved visiting Los Angeles to meet with my clients David (green shirt) and Brian for their pre-wedding photography.  We focused their engagement photography in places near their home, including our first stop at the lovely Micheltorena Stairs.  This Chicagoan is still surprised to see massive hills, so a beautifully painted staircase that goes up to the sky is such a great find and a fun place to take photographs of a longtime couple in love.

After the stairs, we went to their beautiful home that overlooks even more hills!  I loved documenting this couple just being themselves.  Lovely, loving and proud dog owners.  I’m so excited for your wedding at the Chicago School of the Art Institute.  As our friend and amazing wedding planner Anthony Navarro at Liven It Up Events said, “No one will say no to a gay wedding!”  🙂  I can’t wait to see this fantastic party filled with all of their family and friends!

Big congratulations to you both, David and Brian!  I am looking forward to your wedding this weekend at the School of the Art Institute Chicago!


When was the last time you took the deepest of breaths and screamed at the top of your lungs?

I seem to be doing this all the time.

Every photojournalism class I teach starts with this simple exercise.  It seems simple, right?  Just a little shout?

It isn’t.  It’s embarrassing.  Painful.  It triggers anxiety and produces tears that you are forced to recognize.

So why do it?

Because it feels amazing.  You can scream about your biggest fear, whatever is holding you back in life or business (or both), let it explode in the air and tumble at your feet, never to be seen again.

I have spent the past two weeks teaching photojournalism at the incredible Snap Photography Festival at Fforest Camp in Pembrokeshire, Wales, then I moved to London for my own Moment-Driven Photojournalism Workshop before I head home to Chicago tomorrow.  I’m sitting in my hotel room this morning, my first breath of calm air in two weeks, thinking about what I experienced in the last 15 days.

I keep going back to The Scream.

In addition to presenting at Snap, I also taught a master class, where we had the forests and fields of Wales at our feet, with only an occasional bored sheep to hear us.  Insert the screaming exercise, and these beautiful, polite Europeans who usually keep things close to their chests delighted me with their willingness to be vulnerable.

We screamed.  Hugged.  I shot over 20 people in one hour, screaming out their hurts, screaming out their pasts, screaming about their frustrations.

I was so full of their emotions that, at the end of this hour, I could hardly walk.  🙂

We ended the exercise in a large circle, the tall grasses at our ankles, with our faces to the sky in one final, primal scream.

I’m so proud of my students!

Talking about your fears, then screaming about them reminds us of one thing, we are all alike, we are all in the same boat, and we can support each other while we get to the next level in our business.

And it feels damned good.  🙂

Here are some screaming photographs and some shots I made during my Moment-Driven Photojournalism Workshop for your pleasure.  Some shots are taken before or after the scream, which is sometimes the best way to document a moment.

Thank you so much, everyone.  Thank you for being vulnerable, being open to change, and taking charge of changing your reality.  You inspire me!

Want to hear join us for the next Moment-Driven Photojournalism Workshop?  Leave your email HERE for future dates!

  • Carine Bea - Cool picture of Marianne! Congrat for the workshop, I’ve heard good things about it on Snap! xReplyCancel

We wrapped up 2 days of learning and shooting last week (check out the slideshow!) at the Moment-Driven Workshop: CHICAGO  and I am so proud of my students for stepping outside their comfort zone!  Now I am off for two weeks in Wales and London, where I am a featured speaker at the Snap Photo Festival in Wales, then back to London for our Moment-Driven Workshop: LONDON May 2-3!Moment Driven Photojournalism Workshop


PHOTOGRAPHERS: Tired of posing your couples?  You don’t have to!

This two-day shooting workshop is designed to help you step outside your comfort zone. You will photograph strangers, learn how to capture moments without posing, and work on what is holding you back as a photographer.  You CAN capture authentic, emotionally storytelling images without posing or direction, and no longer fear getting the camera where it needs to be.

Ever hesitate to get the camera close?  We will work on this together.  Let’s shoot people who aren’t paying you.  BOOM– now you have freedom to shoot with your own vision, not what clients expect of you.  Let’s shake up your usual routine and try something new!

Internationally award-winning photojournalist Candice C. Cusic will show you her thought process before hitting the shutter, how to capture moments during portrait sessions, how to feel comfortable documenting strangers and how to anticipate and capture moments you will love.


how to make stronger images, how to capture moments during a portrait session, and how to overcome any anxiety you may experience in documenting and interacting with strangers


an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, learn how to document moments during portrait sessions and join a private Facebook group of Moment-Driven Alumni for future support!


in shooting assignments both days, including documenting strangers and volunteers.  This is not a “stand around, watching Candice photograph models” session. This is a hands-on workshop – the best way to learn something is to do it yourself!


Behind the Scenes Promotional Film for Moment-Driven Photojournalism Workshop by Candice C. Cusic from Hendzel Productions on Vimeo.


For a more in-depth look at this unique workshop, check out this blog post by the impressive and incredibly sweet Lina Orsino-Allen of  We hope to have you join us for the Moment-Driven Photojournalism Workshop: LONDON May 2-3 2017!  Click here for more info!

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