Why Moments are the Most Important Thing to Photograph on a Wedding Day

Sometimes, working as a professional photographer and explaining to someone that it is your job to document them elicits the same reaction as a trip to the dentist.   There’s an inner cringe from your client while they remember horrific stories of childhood portraits at Sears gone wrong.  The over-combing of hair, the multiple applications of face powder to block the harsh studio lights, the yells from the photographer to stand up straight.  These aren’t happy memories.  No one liked going to the local portrait studio or having a bored photographer take their yearbook photo.  This memory will never compete with the thrill of your first roller coaster ride, first paycheck or first kiss.

How does photography blend with weddings?  At times, clients remember these childhood stories and try to control their photo shoot.  They ask for no getting ready photos, no reception photos and limited coverage.  They believe they are doing what is best for their guests, because in their eyes, who in their right mind would want a wedding photographer to follow them all day?  Especially if it means being around someone who prefers to stage photos?

When I left a job as an international photojournalist to become a wedding photographer, I had the same reaction to what I thought wedding photographers actually do.  My first wedding involved assisting a photographer who spent the day pointing his camera and yelling for everyone to “Act happy!  ACT HAPPY!”  People think you’re going to obstruct the scene and act like a demanding director on set, setting up lights and screaming for others to do something in front of the camera.

Creating a moment will never be as impactful as capturing a moment and most professional photographers (and clients) can certainly tell when a “moment” was created.  Have you ever seen a dramatically lit portrait with bored subjects off in the distance?  Moments are always going to win, and they should be one of the first things we focus on.

Moment-Driven Portraits are especially important for weddings.  I don’t love posing clients or shooting them smiling at the camera, and my clients appreciate this.  Instead of receiving hundreds of photos of them blankly staring at the lens, they’ll receive meaningful timepieces that capture the two of them in love.

It’s rewarding to allow your clients to focus on each other instead of the camera.  It’s also fun to photograph and takes the pressure from finding the perfect pose, just allow them to be themselves in front of the camera, not pretty dolls set up in a perfect scene.  Moment-Driven Photographs are real.  They make you laugh.  And they’re memorable.

I’ll also be speaking at WPPI at the Finao Album booth at 1PM on Monday, January 26 in Las Vegas, hope to see you!

I’m really excited for my next Moment-Driven Workshop: Chicago April 10-11 and am offering Fearless Photographers and Foundation Workshops students $100 off!

Want to discuss where you are with your photography and where you would like to be?  Sign up for a free Strategy Session with me!

The next Chicago Moment-Driven Photojournalism Workshop (limited to only 10 students) is April 10-11. We will spend two days telling one person’s story, strengthening our visual storytelling and stepping outside our comfort zones.

If you’re shooting the same thing each week, the same way … this workshop can help.


  • How to capture and package the story of your clients, rather than hundreds of images that don’t connect to their hearts
  • How to communicate with your clients so that you can anticipate which photos will speak most strongly to them
  • How to capture powerful moments during a portrait session that show your clients as an authentic version of themselves
  • How to work through any anxiety and you experience documenting and interacting with strangers and address the self-doubt that keeps you from capturing the powerful shots you know you’re capable of


  • An intimate group experience with other photographers similarly interested in upleveling their skills
  • Tons of feedback from Candice and fellow workshop participants
  • Ample time to apply what you’re learning to make your photographs even stronger
  • A 15-minute follow up call with Candice after the workshop to identify areas for growth
  • Access to a private Facebook group of Moment-Driven alumni for future support!


  • Shooting assignments in downtown Chicago documenting strangers and telling their stories. This is a hands-on workshop where you apply the feedback and techniques you’ve learned immediately.
  • Feedback sessions where you practice identifying what makes a strong photograph so you can learn to quickly shoot and cull your own shots. Many photographers take days to edit a shoot — it should only take a few hours, once you know what to look for!


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