Wedding photography is the origin for us. Through the art of documenting this day that has blown up from a little event in your little town of 100 to a billion dollar industry, we have a lot of respect for the business of shooting weddings on our side.

However, over the years as we’ve matured as people and as shooters we’re beginning to see a trend take place that seems to be corrupting the moments of marriage for the sake of “the shot”.

directingAsk any wedding photographer or videographer who’s been around the block and they’ll tell you that there’s a typical shot list in their head. From putting on the shoes all the way to the garter toss: there’s a list, a template, a cliched shot list to capture. While that’s not to say that those shots aren’t needed, but where’s the line between capturing a moment and reenacting one? And for that matter, reenacting one for take 1, take 2, take 6…

Oh boy.

I remember shooting along side a fellow documenter and it seemed like it was take after take. Finally the client said “geez I just want to enjoy my wedding, not act like I’m enjoying it!”

Yikes. While I had already been aware that acting surprised when you see you bride for the “first time” is really annoying so that the shooter can get the shot, I’ve never really heard it out loud from clients.

This was an eye opener. Of course, we’re guilty of having clients put their jackets on again or their shoes so we can safely say to the client: “yes, we captured everything”, it’s really not documenting it’s acting and all the while, possibly killing this moment that’s supposed to be candid, untouched, heartfelt and emotionally raw.

Those moments quickly fade away when you’re being directed to “walk slowly” “do that one more time” “hold it”. And it’s hard, because wedding documenters need to coach their couples so that they look good right? But where’s the line? It’s incredibly important for us as artists to create art and be creative within the confines of shooting weddings. It’s hard work to balance the clients needs, wants and your needs and your wants as a artist and run a business.

So where’s the line for you?

I guess with that said, for us we’re compliant to respect the wishes of our clients to get “the shot”, but I believe there has to be a balance of letting it be, simply capturing the moment and not diluting it with too much direction or rehearsal. On the other hand, some clients want the act and the result it creates in the final product.

Regardless of how others perceive how weddings should or shouldn’t be documented, I’m happy to report that that we will always try to capture the moment reflecting the times. By that I mean that when it’s time to create that “money shot” we’ll go for it and when it’s a bride and groom’s first look or quietly getting ready we’ll simply capture that.

There’s still a shot list in our heads, but it’s more like a guide or a reminder of what’s coming next. The real skill is shooting when it happens, if it happens, because that’s how it was. Mix that with your creative eye and you’ve succeed in documenting while still branding your work as your own.

How do you think weddings should be captured? Is just a show or do you find yourself pulled out of a touching moment because it didn’t fulfill the shot list?

By Megan Pangan

Megan Pangan
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Megan Pangan

Megan is a blogger, podcaster and YouTuber. She creates content for Kevin Le Vu Photography, Get in the Lab Podcast, and Wedding Bros. She freelances in photography and multimedia design. She enjoys creating content from the heart and living in Orange County.
Megan Pangan
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