I think people romanticize the job of being a photographer, particularly a wedding photographer. They need to stop it. Just like the profession of a teacher is glorified and even sometimes viewed as some saintly profession (also stop). First of all. Stop. Right. There. The weddings that I have shot over the last two weekends (yes one a weekend) have been booked for months in advance. That means if some cool, amazing thing comes up on my schedule I can't go. I'm booked. I'm obligated to be at this wedding no matter how I feel (and believe me I've felt awful the last two weekends).
So now factor in that you've been tied down for months in your future obligations, that means when you start that new job you still are obligated to shoot three or four weddings this fall and do a good job of it. Even if you go home sick, tired, crying and crawling into your steaming hot tub (which I did). Then begin the process of culling photos, meanwhile having the sudden onslaught of Fall bookings start hitting your business inbox. Oh, and don't get me wrong I'm incredibly grateful for my clients and their trust in choosing me to do their portraits. But, I had a taste of burning myself out on portraiture last Fall, yet continued to shoot. Do you know how hard it is to turn down clients for someone who is willing to work (like me).
Here is my Lil' Miss being the flower girl - she's one of the reasons I'm "into" portrait photography now, I was taking her portraits before I knew what the "f-stop" was...When I was incredibly naive,excited and clueless about photography in general and I thought that little $600 Rebel was a high tech piece of equipment with the "kit lens" that came with it. Why didn't someone tell me how awful my photos were five years ago (they were). I didn't know any of the technical details. I was shooting purely on love of composition.
I'm actually kind of irritated that everyone thought my photos were good a few years ago and they weren't *By all means go look through my extensive archives of not so great photography from 2010-11-12-13 and some of 14. But, I'm grateful for the knowledge that I've gained since then. I'm tired. I have two more weddings this Fall and this budget photographer who loved giving her time away in the past will no longer be doing this. I have posted in the past about how rockstar photographers convince these young, naive, shooters not to give their work away. Yes, don't. Don't give your work away after you reach a certain level of satisfaction with your quality and if you continue to book no matter what your price, I guess you are doing it right.
A part of me loves the weddings, it's challenging like being in a classroom. It's intense, it's stressful and somehow my love of solitude is turned into a high stress job. But, weddings in the end are fun, happy and cheerful. But by the time the bouquet is thrown this girl is ready to collapse into an exhausted ball of tiredness and watch Netflix.
But weddings are TERRIFYING. I shot my first wedding in June of 2011 for $100. I had a Canon 7D and the 28-135 Kit lens that came with it, I was somewhat confident but I was totally clueless on many levels. I cringe when I look through the photos, but with knowledge and practice I've improved greatly and shot quite a few weddings now. Weddings still cause me great anxiety. You get one shot, one shot not to mess it up. It's a scary business and a huge obligation when you take on someone's most emotional day and make it yours. I attended a wedding last Spring as a guest and I watched a timid girl not taking the shots an missing many moments at a wedding and it was a horrible feeling to see it happening.
It is rewarding. I've reached the point where I'm satisfied with my portfolio and will no longer be selling myself short, and honestly do not need the business. I want more gear and more experience with different types of photography because I'm a perfectionist. But do I have to shoot weddings, nah... I turned down some because my pricing was too expensive when in the past I would work with anyone's budget. Life teaches us what we need to value, sometimes we need to value time.
Be cautious when taking on weddings. If you don't have experience offer your services to go with an experienced wedding photographer as a second or third shooter. I'm currently shooting weddings at what most would consider cheap prices, yet being able to price yourself into the realm of luxury is something that comes with consistency and confidence as a competent photographer.
When you are the photographer you are helping create their memories, you are an observer, a voyeurs view into someone else's life, their moments and happiness. Then you go home and share those memories, you were a key player stealthily documenting the special occasions, don't mess it up. I'm still terrified before every wedding. Fear is healthy.
Today, I don't really want to be a wedding photographer. Today I miss the wonder of going on a walk in the country and finding some odd, random thing and framing it in a pleasing composition. Today I miss the simplicity of only knowing my own work and naively not knowing about the world of photography forums and photo-geeks. Today I miss the wonder I found in what I did alone, without knowing your competition was being snarky behind your back or reading your page waiting for a chance to confront you (oh, believe me that has happened). But, if you want to be a photographer go for it. Just don't get angry if you don't book, get better.