Maybe you finally got that sweet camera that you’ve had your eyes on. Maybe you think this means you can finally become a professional photographer. And where’s the easy money? WEDDINGS, YES! Let’s do this! Hang on a second there, cowboy…
Every year cameras and all their associated gear get more amazing, and the barrier to entry into the vast field of professional photography seems to fade away as entry level cameras look like the professional cameras of just a few years ago. As you’re stuck in your boring day job, you start day dreaming about how you could make that sweet cheddar with your camera. Your mind starts to drift through all the possibilities. Headshots, landscape, travel…Then it hits you. Weddings is where the real money is. It almost seems like a scam, it can’t possibly be that easy. People are paid thousands (!!) of dollars to shoot for a day, of a party no less, where everyone is already having fun and all you have to do is show up and click the shutter. Rinse, repeat, profit.
Right? Wrong. Being a wedding photographer is not all rainbows and glitter, despite what all those gloriously curated Instagram feeds would have you believe.
You’re socially awkward.
This is first for a reason. Wedding photography at its core is people photography, and if you aren’t good around people you’ll probably make a terrible wedding photographer. Besides being with a couple for the entire day, often times alone with them, you’re interacting with countless guests and vendors and being able to remain upbeat, polite, and respectful is one of the most important parts of the job. Plus, being able to wriggle your way around a dance floor without being creepy is harder than it sounds.
Organization is not your strong suit.
Photos. Thousands of photos to import! On top of that you have countless email correspondences, contracts, insurance documents, and on and on. If you have trouble remembering where you left your car keys after coming home drunk, you probably couldn’t find your five best bouquet shots from last year in less than 5 minutes.
You spend hours editing one photo.
Speaking of thousands of photos, you now have to edit and deliver them all within a reasonable amount of time. And this isn’t the only wedding you shot this month. If you have any hope of maintaining a social life outside of seeing the pizza delivery guy, you better have your post production game in check.
You don’t know how to price your services.
Part of creating a sustainable wedding photography business is covering your cost of doing business. If you don’t know how much money you need to pay your rent, invest in that new piece of software, or buy a few sample albums, you probably have no idea where you need to be priced. And if you don’t have the photo chops to back up that price, no one will hire you. And don’t bother looking at what the guy across town in charging, his game is completely different than yours. So know what you’re worth, and charge accordingly.
Backing up your photos is a foreign concept.
It might never happen. Let’s pray to all the 1’s and 0’s that it never does! But somewhere along the lines, you’ll probably fat finger the delete key and poof…that amazing shot you got of the bride walking out of the ceremony with her new spouse just went bye-bye. If you have a good backup plan instituted in your workflow, you casually go to your backup drive and recover it. If not, holy hell are you in trouble.
You don’t embrace change.
No matter how pat down you have your game, there are always new innovations being made in technology, software, marketing, social media presence, and on and on. And if you’re blind to these changes, your competition won’t be and you’ll be left in the dust. So have a system, but be open to change when it will benefit you and your business.
Your post production changes week to week.
Trends come and go, your portfolio will evolve as your art does, and your old blog posts will fade into the past, but your clients have their wedding photos forever. And if you slapped the hottest filter of the day on them while editing, you’re going to look like an idiot in a few years. Or months. Plus, having a solid, repeatable post production workflow in place will keep you sane.
Solving problems frustrates you.
Something will always go wrong on a wedding day. It might be something going wrong for you, or it might be something that goes wrong with getting the groom’s tux to the getting ready venue. Either way, if you’re not prepared to step in and solve it, you’re going to look bad. So be proactive and solve problems, people will thank you for it. (Or don’t say shit if it was something that went wrong with your flash and you fixed that too.)
You can’t see the bigger picture.
Details. Weddings are full of them, and blogs are obsessed with them. But they’re only part of the story, a story that you’re crafting as you document the wedding day unfolding in front of you. And if you can’t pull back to see that larger picture and create the overall story that you want to tell, you might just end up with a bunch of great photos of random people all at the same place at the same time.
You hate digging through hundreds (scratch that..thousands) of photos.
After you get home from a long wedding day, there will be thousands of photos to go through. Not only those that you took, but the ones your second shooter took as well. (You did hire a second shooter, right?) As a successful wedding photographer, you might outsource your post production to an amazing studio that can edit your photos to exactly your liking, but only you can sift through the thousands of photos taken that day to curate the wedding story that was unique and true to that particular couple. Being able to do this quickly and without error is a key part to keeping your cost of doing business low enough to be successful in the long run.