No, not me – (not yet anyhow) – this is a post about wedding photography. Part of my work-for-myself plan is to be a wedding photographer, and I’ve been very fortunate to get three weddings under my belt so far as an assistant/back up photographer thanks to the very lovely and talented photographer David Laslett. I’ve learned so much from him, and he has been incredibly supportive and more than happy to share his tricks of the trade. It took me quite a while to find someone who would let me tag along for work experience, and for that I will always be thankful. So thanks Dave! You’re a star.
This morning I came across a fantastic blog piece by Jacqui Bruniquel about what it’s really like being a wedding photographer.
So much of what she wrote rang true for me, even with my limited experience.
For starters, I definitely have no illusions that it is an “easy” way to make money. First of all it’s not easy physically. You’ll be running around all day, often at multiple locations, and there is barely time to take a breather, let alone eat. You definitely *need* to find time to eat though – you’re no use to anyone if you’re near collapse from hunger after a crazy day, as I found at the last wedding I worked on. You’ll probably be a bit hoarse by the end of the day from all the talking (shouting) and feel beat up from not only lugging around equipment (not just your camera, but tripods, ladders and all sorts!) and the creative positions you’ve had to get into to get the right shots.
And then there’s your time, especially regarding the post production. I’m sure after I shoot my first wedding solo, it will take me a couple of days to sort, process and prepare the shots. No doubt I’ll get faster as I learn, but doing a good job always takes time. There are also the meetings with the client to consider, and extras like engagement shoots.
So you have to think of the fee in terms of the total number of days it will take – it’s not just about the hours on the day of the event. A savvy bride will always be trying to get her budget down, and you don’t want to price yourself out of a job – but there’s no point working for too little either.
People skills are another key thing she mentions, and it’s so true – I found that my years of working as a manager, PA and event assistant really helped on the day. Weddings are on a tight schedule that’s often running late anyhow, but if it’s at a venue hosting multiple weddings, you won’t be the only professional wanting to make use of the grounds. Coupled with the fact that the meal is at “5:00 PM SHARP” (as the venue keeps reminding you) you often have just one hour between the ceremony and the meal to get in the long list of group shots the couple have provided you with. And during that time, people are starting to get tipsy. And then the groom’s mother disappears for 20 minutes. And then one of the kiddies goes into meltdown. And then people get distracted and start drifting off. I drew on my Polite But Firm Herding Skills to handle whatever came my way.
Overall though, I feel sure that this is something I will enjoy, and will do well. At each wedding I felt pretty honoured to be part of the couple’s event, and that’s the honest truth. And there were so many special moments that genuinely brought a tear to my eye. Like wishing the bride good luck just moments before she walked down the aisle. Or the moment the bride’s outfit and makeup is finally done, and she’s bursting with happiness as everyone coos at how lovely she looks. Or shooting the post-ceremony couple shots – it’s an intimate moment between just you and the couple, and they have such a glow of happiness that the shots come together easily.
I have so much yet to learn, but I’m getting there. I plan to offer to shoot a couple of weddings for free to build up my portfolio, launch a website and then hopefully start to get some bookings. I’m really excited about the year ahead!
(Thanks to Anna Hardy for posting the article – another fantastic wedding photographer whose work I really admire.)