Moment Junkie

Recently in the world of wedding blogging there has been a bit of an uprising from those who are tired of looking at inspirational sites filled with posts that are portraying anything but “real weddings”. Though there are certainly beautiful, detail filled weddings out there, with details that brides have slaved over for hours (I know how hard my Weddingbee gal-pals work!) some of what you are seeing comes from staged shoots, done specifically for building the photographer’s portfolio. I have nothing against those shoots (I’m trying to plan a bridal style one for early Spring in Chicago, email me if you’re interested!), but it can be disheartening for an everyday bride to log on to Style Me Pretty or Ruffled and wonder why their wedding photos don’t match up.

I agree with those who call for more transparency on the wedding inspiration blogs, and that both photographers and bloggers should make it very, very clear when they are posting something that’s staged. When you are hiring someone, you need to know that the images you see in their portfolio are moment caught during the wedding day, because a Wednesday afternoon staged shoot with hand-picked vendors and controlled lighting is completely different than a chaotic Saturday wedding filled with abandoned timelines and difficult lighting situations.

A new wedding inspiration blog that has grown out of the desire for more authentic photojournalistic wedding photography is called moment junkie. It’s run by several stellar wedding photographers, and as a photographer I view it as the best wedding inspiration blog I’ve ever seen. You might not find inspiration for fabulous unique wedding details there, but you will be reminded that the best type of wedding photography captures the moments you might have missed that you’ll be talking about for the rest of your life.

Who needs expensive or time-intensive details when you’ve got tears, laughter, mischief, and love caught on film for generations to cherish? This is what wedding photography should really be about.

24 thoughts on “Moment Junkie

  1. About a year ago I asked the very innocent question of do you think some wedding photos on sites like style me pretty are posed photo shoots rather than real weddings on weddingbee. It was not very well received. Glad to hear I’m not (totally) a crazy person. And wow- moment junkie is great

  2. Neat!
    Sometimes I see wedding websites and they just have so many darling little details that I feel bad I didn’t spend 100 thousand more hours cutting out paper hearts to make cute signs for my drink table.
    But my favorite shots are ones like my little cousins running around (we had wiffle ball set up.)And that’s what I’ll care about in 20 years anyway.

    Gogo Reply:

    Stuff like that is way the best part of a wedding!

  3. I agree that I am getting sick of the overly styled “inspiration” wedding shoots. I don’t understand how viewing a shot of a bride in a fairy woodland setting holding a nest of robin eggs (or cupping a piece of fruit in the palm of her hands…or some other ridiculous prop) is supposed to translate to a real wedding, on a real budget, in the real world.

  4. Couldn’t agree more. I had to stop looking at some of those sites for a couple months before my wedding because, despite all the little details I’d put so much thought and time into, I still didn’t feel I could measure up.

    I love the moment junkie idea. My photographer did a fabulous job of capturing some great, memorable candid moments. One of my favourites is of one of my flower girls (my youngest niece, she’s 4) cuddled up with her parents in the church pew (she got tired of standing at the front of the church) unconsciously letting out a big yawn. Too funny!

  5. Ha! Inspiration shoots are exactly why I stopped reading blogs like SMP. I can imagine they have value if you work in the industry, and they are often very pretty, but as a bride (I originally typed that “bird”), they just don’t ring my heartstrings. I’m not detail-oriented, and even if I was, photos of empty chairs, spotless plate settings, and a bride-and-groom who probably weigh about 200 lbs together wouldn’t inspire me, because nothing connects me emotionally to those images or makes me think–hey, that’s something I would do.

  6. How is this different from magazines like Martha Stewart and Modern Bride? Neither of those blogs, SMP or Ruffled, market themselves as strictly DIY. In fact, most of the major blogs have “inspiration” in their taglines. I personally love the inspiration shoots. They push me to a higher standard for my own projects. I stopped reading Wedding Bee several years ago because the majority of projects look terrible. It’s like a well directed movie versus a home movie.

  7. I think “inspiration” is a slippery term here. Inspiring to whom exactly? If I were a photographer I might find this work inspiring or maybe if I was a bride who spent a lot of time and/or money on her wedding. I imagine those people might find these sites inspiring because these visions are achievable or professionally developmental, or within their grasp or expectations (this seems to be the case with Rebekah, for example).

    To me, this current discussion is a reflection of a much larger debate on what makes something art? What makes something beautiful? Are you more struck by “high art” or by “ordinary life”? I recognize how freakishly subjective these terms are, but that’s just the closest labels I can put on the two camps at this point (an art major in college, I was not!).

    Having put forth this analytical disclaimer, I still think I should share my personal opinion which is that I find staging spontaneous moments to be an offensive oxymoron. It misrepresents an artist’s own vision as though it is the beauty of natural life unfolding and to me that is a manipulative way to try and ellicit a deeper emotional response from me as the observer/appreciator. I can appreciate art for arts sake and beauty for its own sake, so I have no problem recognizing that a staged or posed photograph has some intrinsic artistic worth as a beautiful vision/expression of talented artists.

    Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? To me, real life is art and attempts to capture it as such should be respected.

    Rebekah Reply:

    Art has always been about staging life moments. From carving stick figures into a rock, to painting a Danish girl with bowl in hand, to the current art and entertainment industry with models and movies. Until the invention of photography and videography, we weren’t able to catch truly live moments. So really, that is a new media, versus staged moments. Art can be anything to anyone. And as the staged shoots are clearly marked and labeled, I don’t see anything offensive about them.

    Christine Reply:

    You’ve actually furthered this point by putting forth a definition of art that is fairly specific. Anti-artists/dadaists for example would not agree with you that something becomes art because it can be staged, repeated or captured through a physical artefact. Discussing what one considers artistic and evocative is not really a matter of right and wrong, it’s entirely subjective–as you say, art can be anything to anyone.

    Personally, I agree with you that staged shoots which are clearly marked and labelled as such are not offensive.

  8. I really wish my photographer had captured the moment when my 3 year old 2nd cousin stuck 3 of his fingers into our cake at the very beginning of our reception! This was before most of our guests even saw the cake! We definitely have pictures of the cake after it had been “patched” up by our caterer to cover the evidence of the toddler.

    Gogo Reply:

    I desperately hope that some of the kids at my wedding will stick their fingers into a cake. I think it’s the greatest. And I REALLY hope we get a picture of it if it happens.

  9. As an amateur wedding planner, I appreciate all the “real” inspiration blogs out there. I’m definitely adding this one to my reader. Thanks!

  10. I am a wedding blog junkie, like I might need an intervention….and I don’t mind the staged weddings but I think they need to be in ratio to the real weddings. Actually, when I first saw the inspired shoots I thought they were almost unethical (well, not unethical but the right words is skipping my mind) but now I have grown to like them.


    WHERE were THESE people when I was having a wedding?!

    I asked my photographer to take “journalistic style” photographers…you know, capture my guests (and us) in our real elements. I wanted personality and stories. Of course, I wanted a few staged ones…but mostly I wanted EMOTION captured in REAL time.

    I didn’t get that. I didn’t get nice staged photos either.

    So this….this is a huge relief for me.

    I LOVE it. Makes me wish I could have a do-over and hire a new photographer who’s into this movement.

    Hannah Reply:

    I mean *”journalistic style” photographs

  12. I agree with Rebekah & Christine. As a photographer who strives to capture real moments… and my brides feel like that’s what they get… I also love the heck out a great tablescape, and I enjoy the styled shoots we do. I’m always very honest with my clients about the fact that a styled shoot wasn’t a real wedding, and I’m proud of all the hard work that goes into them.
    I think blogs like SMP can definitely be inspiring, even when it’s a bride standing in a field holding a robin’s egg. It’s inspiring for photographers, who should always be striving to artistically up our game, and it’s inspiring for brides who want to think outside the box. While many of mine & Jenna’s clients may not have $100,000 wedding budgets, there are lots of brides out there who do.
    I appreciate a “moments” blog. In a completely different way, it’s very inspiring. But I am NOT on board with any sort of backlash against the other style blogs. They have a place, a purpose, and astounding readership. And, at least for me, they’re a beautiful respite from a lot of “real weddings” that are, quite simply, uninspiring.

    For the record, the wedding I had featured on SMP had a budget of $13,000… pretty low, considering how fabulous it was. Thought and effort can take ANY wedding to another level, regardless of available funds.

  13. when I first started planning my wedding, I loved looking at any wedding decor inspiration I could get my hands on. I had so many ideas from these blogs! Then I started pricing all the different elements that went into the styles I was seeing…way out of my price range.

    I love seeing the creativity people have, but it’s not grounded in reality. For most of us, sourcing a lot of the items required for a look is difficult on its own, much less doing it for a space that has to fit 100-200 people (the ones that annoy me the most are when they style 1 table for 8 people).

  14. Thank you very much for the support.

    Reading the discussion here about staged shoots and inspiration is really interesting.

    We’re not saying that we hate all the other wedding blogs. I can appreciate the beauty in a good styled shoot just as much as anybody else. And it’s really cool to see a bride and groom that put a ton of hard work into making sure that their wedding is a complete representation of who they are.

    What we are saying is that a wedding is about more than *just* the details. That’s what we want to show.

    We can all coexist peacefully. But moments deserve their space in the weddingbloginspirationsphere as well.

  15. I’ve heard the term “wedding porn” to refer to some websites about weddings and weddings details.
    Sometimes it’s hard to remember that a wedding is not about the decor and the favors and the little details but about the people. As someone who got married with a small budget, it’s hard sometimes to look at those perfect weddings and not feel like you missed something.
    Yes they have their use, some inspiration to create and be beautiful is nice but that’s not all a wedding should be about.

    So I like this website because you can catch beautiful moments no matter how many details were poured over into the wedding planning.

  16. As a long time married girl (8 years), it’s been interesting to this concept of ‘staged imagery’ in weddings develop. If I am completely honest, it saddens me a little when I see so much focus from brides on creating perfect images of their wedding, rather than just being completely present in the joy of the day itself. We were very fortunate to be photographed by Jeff Ascough
    Jeff works in the available light and is a true photojournalist. Some of the moments that Jeff captured at our wedding were incredible. Did I look ‘perfect’ in all of them…far from it, however the emotion captured was indeed perfect.

  17. There’s very much a time and a place for styled shoots. As a bride, I enjoy seeing them once in awhile on SMP, etc, because they do have more creative manpower behind them. Maybe I’ll just look at it and think “ooh, pretty color palette” but since they’re styled, they are inspiring. I tend to find real moments MORE inspiring, but often in a different way. My bigger gripe with wedding blogs is the lack of personality that comes with seeing wedding after wedding. One of the things I love about Weddingbee is that you’re hearing that bride’s story through her voice, and she often shares the downs as well as the ups. It keeps wedding planning and the whole point of the wedding – the marriage – in perspective more.

    As a photographer, I (obviously) see the point behind styled shoots. I’m excited for ours just because I’d like to start browsing certain Flickr groups that require you to have wedding shots in your photostream, and I feel like a styled shoot is a great way to practice relatively benignly. Even with free shoots, I feel some sort of obligation to the client to meet their wants and make them happy. There’s less room for experimentation just because I am a new photographer, and there’s a lot less confidence there.

  18. Interesting! This is like the Shiny Happy Hip post… but for weddings!! I was drooling over a particular bouquet arrangement from Martha Stewart’s magazine and brought it to my florist. He showed me the flowers in the arrangement and then talked me through how the bouquet in the photo actually was laying down because it was held together with fishing line that had been photo shopped out. It was amazing when the professional dissected how unrealistic this “inspiration” photo actually was!

    I was curious where you were going with this post, Jenna, but it make so much sense when you explained the photos that photographers can put in their book when they have a Wednesday afternoon with models and perfect lighting. It does seem a little unfair, if they are marketing their skills based on these posed weddings… but – if you were hiring someone for a portrait session, it might be a reasonable indication of what they can do? Either way, I like this post and what it reveals about the industry!

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