The Hard Reality we’re Facing with Instagram as Wedding Photographers

This winter we sold our things, bought an airstream, and started living on the road. During this adventure we’ve decided to change the way we think about our business, the way we interact on social media, and most importantly, how we live our lives. It’s important to us that we’re real and honest as we grow with our business and as we learn how to put ourselves out there.

So, this is a post about what we’ve learned.

(Photo by Hannah Shea Studios)

Somehow a large part of the wedding photography industry has become more about trying to be a celebrity and more about your status within the community, rather than what wedding photography is really about: creating beautiful images for your clients as memories on their wedding day. For us it’s been hard to be on Instagram as wedding photographers without the feeling that we’re stuck in a game of comparison with other photographers.

We’ve been following 350+ wedding photographers on social media for the past few years while we were living in St. Louis, Missouri, running our business. We have only met and made real connections with about 15 of the 350 photographers that we were following. Most of these people were traveling more than us and photographing in stunning locations that we had yet to travel to.

In making a decision to explore the country together, we’ve had the chance to start photographing in these epic and Instagram famous locations. We’ve had the opportunity to experience photo shoots that we’ve seen on Instagram for years. We’ve met up with photographers that can help our portfolios and our social media look like the dream we’ve been following and seeing online.

In these two months, we’ve realized that you can so easily lose grasp of what feels fulfilling in running a photography business. You can find yourself getting sucked into the comparison game, the jealousy game, the Instagram “success” game. The game that distracts us from what is real.

The reason that Jamie and I know that we’re running a successful business is because of the reviews we get from clients about who we are as people and the images we create for them. That’s all that should matter to us, and because of social media, it hasn’t always felt like enough for us.


We want to share a story with you. It’s a story about what should be a “photographer’s dream”, but for us, was a major wake-up call.

We met up with photographers in one of the most beautiful parts of the US: Page, Arizona. Some wedding dresses were borrowed from a boutique and our friends were game for dressing up and modeling for us. It was an amazing opportunity for our portfolio. Because of some hiccups that came up, we all arrived to start shooting with only the last 30 minutes of good light during the day. Me and another sweet photographer friend hopped on Jamie’s shoulders, taking turns to get some shots. We worked around each other with all of the time we had, and when it was too cold and too dark, we headed to our cars. The next day we toured a different part of Page in the morning, and frantically got awesome shots of each other with the time we paid for in the tour. During these two days, there were hundreds of tourists all trying to take their selfie, crammed in next to us. The stunning photos that we got don’t connect with the actual experience we had.

It was a whirlwind of an experience and when it was over, Jamie and I both had our own breakdowns. We felt icky about it. We felt icky because to us we had experienced these beautiful locations with the undercurrent of Instagram success being behind the shots. It felt like desperation. This isn’t to say we’re ungrateful for the experiences we had and the beautiful photos that came from these shoots. This just gave us an understanding that we need to shift where our priorities are, and get back to why we started this business in the first place.


(Photos by us. Not pictured: hundreds of tourists to our left and right)


Jamie and I sat down over breakfast yesterday morning, to talk about *why* we are in this business and how we can continue to run a business that feels good to us.


We’ve decided to change the way we scroll on our business page. We are now only following people that we’ve connected with in a real way, or people that inspire us for sharing their own authentic voice and art.

We can’t escape the aspects of social media that are hard, so we’re going back to social media with the goal of understanding that we want growth and we want awesome clients finding us, but in growth, we want to be real and we want to be giving.

Intentions for our photography:

We’re shooting first, for our couple. It’s about them and their celebration of love. And second for ourselves, because we’re the artists and friends behind the camera, getting inspired by the love.

Photographing in beautiful locations:

We are committing to experiencing beautiful locations for ourselves and our own hearts and not just for the hope of a viral image.


None of this is to say that we’re above the social media game and the issues that come up with comparison. This is just more of an honest reflection about how we want to utilize social media as a business tool and work on creating a sense of community around realness and purpose.

We’d rather talk about the real parts of being on social media as wedding photographers rather than continuing to play the Instagram game without recognition of it. We’re here to figure out how to share our authentic voice and to help you share yours too.

If you’ve been struggling with these same feelings, our hearts are with you. Know that if you’re creating images that make you and your clients happy, in the end that’s all that should matter. At least that’s what we’re going to try to remind ourselves as we move forward on Instagram.

10 notes + Add comment
  • Brooke Morehardt

    on February 21, 2018  9:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing this guys. You two made us feel so loved and special on our wedding day. We are eternally grateful for the beautiful photos that came from the day, but we are especially thankful for the pure love we feel when looking at the photos. Our wedding day was perfectly captured by you two!

  • Carol a DeAnda

    on February 22, 2018  12:11 am

    thanks for sharing this, I had been starting to feel overwhelmed but the status of other wedding photogs in my area but at the end of the day it really is all about the couple, and their photos of their special moments!

  • Emma Oriana

    on February 22, 2018  1:58 am

    This is such a beautiful and honest article. Thank you guys for always being so real in your communication :)

  • Dean

    on February 22, 2018  4:26 am

    You are continuing to be authentic first, which is why your love shines through. Thank you for taking the time to share in a thoughtful way.

  • Julie

    on February 22, 2018  5:36 am

    I really appreciate how both of you take the time to reflect about yourselves, your own coupleness, and your work. That can only lead to better and better selves, coupleness, and work! And boy is your work AMAZING!!!

  • Angela

    on February 22, 2018  4:22 pm

    Thanks for this honest & thoughtful sharing. It was recently pointed out to me that success is best measured by one’s love and kindness, and here is more support for that concept. Your loving is your success!

  • Micahel Jensen

    on February 22, 2018  5:25 pm

    I am grateful for your skills, friendly interactions, and professionalism. I can't imagine having a better experience during our wedding photoshoot. I felt like you were trying to capture genuine and natural interactions between us. We are so pleased with our photos. Thank you for being great thinkers and photographers.

  • Stephen

    on February 23, 2018  2:00 pm

    I think there’s a great point under the surface here that you’ll never create your soul’s beat work from a place of desperation or scarcity.

    Some people genuinely get most jazzed about making epic shots (I know some of these people and see the joy it brings them to climb a mountain or go to the most remote place for a photo). And yes, they do really well on instagram.

    But the point is to know what energizes you most and pursue that rather than do your work from a place of insecurity and competition.

  • Elisebeth

    on February 25, 2018  2:12 am

    I'm feeling sooo appreciative of the insight you've shared. Instagram is an easy way that I'd love to be shouting our successes, but sometimes it comes off as a way of bragging or of "look at me"... It's hard to keep the perspective sometimes...

  • Mallory

    on February 25, 2018  7:54 pm

    Just read this out loud to Justin as we are driving in to Arizona today! We kept high-fiving because the points you made come right from our hearts, too. We’ve been feeling this way and it’s been building for a few years now. I’m so glad you experienced this because it’ll keep you grounded and going after what’s important to YOU! I’m even more glad you shared it in such an honest way! We really hope to meet up with you guys one of these days!!