A lot of these are things I used to believe about wedding photographers before I joined this industry family. A lot of these are ones I can almost see people thinking when I meet them for the first time and I tell them what I do for a living. But what stands out the most is that these are misconceptions that I see from a lot of new and aspiring wedding photographers that are entering the industry. So I figured, let’s take a moment to talk about this and clear up some confusion. You know, for the greater good and all that.
1. They only work on weekends.
Weekend weddings are the days when we visibly create the art for our clients (engagement sessions and bridal portraits aside). But the truth of the matter is, wedding photographers work full time on their business during the week, too! And it’s not just editing the images. For every event, there is a lot of preparation that goes into ensuring the day runs smoothly, like meeting with vendors, confirming wedding day details, and cultivating a relationship with the couple so their story can be documented authentically on the wedding day. Professional wedding photographers also know the importance of the business nitty-gritty: balancing their books, analyzing products to offer, revising their brand, speaking at conferences to help educate other industry professionals, updating marketing materials and profiles. And the list goes on and on. It’s all the un-pretty, mysterious stuff that isn’t seen that supports the couples, the vendors, and the business.
Truth – While the visual art is what wedding photographers create on weekends, it’s all the hidden, behind-the-scenes daily work and systems that are put in place which actually makes a successful wedding photography business.
2. They make tons of cashola!
This one has to be true, right? I mean, with wedding photography investment numbers reaching into the thousands – and sometimes tens of thousands – of dollars, it only makes sense that wedding photographers are making some mad cash! But running a business takes money. And with all of the products and services available to photographers to improve their clients’ experience and ensure photographers are working with the best equipment they can afford, it often leaves many new and aspiring photographers in the red. With a solid understanding of business know-how, though, these hopeful creative entrepreneurs are able to build this love of their talent and work into a life-supporting profession that serves both their talent and their business and most importantly their couples.
Truth – It takes strict money management and keeping a close eye on accounts to know your numbers as a wedding photographer, while still being able to make a living from the profit.
3. It’s a cake-job!
Well, sure it is – how hard is it to press the shutter button? Now, that part isn’t hard, and I’m not going to go into all the technical details of professional photography. But if you know how to effortlessly manage hundreds of people, calming stressed moms and emotional dads, producing quality images in various ever-changing lighting situations while carrying around a 50+ pound bag of equipment, following a timeline to the T (sometimes having to act as the wedding coordinator when there isn’t anyone taking responsibility for the timing), and working with a team of other vendors, all while keeping a smile on your face, a pep in your step while you’re on your feet for almost 8 hours straight, and bringing joy to an otherwise potentially stressful day? Then, sure, it’s a cake job. Ok, I kid. Honestly, though, it is really a tough gig to call a profession! So it takes perseverance. Dedication. Tenacity. And lots of hard work and consistency to build a successful professional wedding photography business.
Truth -Anything worth doing is worth doing right and well; but that doesn’t always mean easy. It takes hard work, but the payoffs are so fulfilling.
4. Wedding photographers aren’t really business people.
Photographers are creatives who love to focus (gotta love the pun!) on creating beautiful images – I mean, that’s what photographers, do, right? So often for many photographers, the business side of things gets forgotten, or ignored for one reason or another. And for those who want to have fun with it, and not really develop a business, this isn’t so much of a big deal. Business is boring, anyway, right? It’s not really creative or inspiring. I would gently disagree. Business professionals engage in various – often creative! – forms of activities to keep their primary source of income developing, growing, and viable. They take strategic action to make their work efficient and profitable, their network reliable and mutually beneficial, and their audience happy with both the product that is delivered, and the personal and professional experience. And the inspiring part? That those systems we put in place are actually working to support our dream! That’s what we need to be doing as professional wedding photographers! So to become and remain a professional wedding photographer with a viable company that is able to continue serving the community, smart business skills and qualities must be developed.
Truth – Those who really want to stay in business – whether a full time or part time venture – will treat this professionally, seeking out and applying consistent systems and action steps that will provide profitable and repeatable results.
5. Every event is a party!
Ok, this one is true! This is totally my mantra. I absolutely love weddings, and I love photographing them, and I love that the images we make create lasting images for not just the couple and their families, but for the children they may one day have. And the overwhelming joy that is present on the day is absolutely palpable. Truth – is every moment joyful? Not always. Maybe the union isn’t fully supported by a friend or family member, and there is a bit of tension that is clearly present. But at the end of the day – at the end of the ceremony really! – the bride and groom are joined in matrimony, breathing easier, the nerves have given way to a total release of pure happiness, and the party, the celebration of this newest union, begins. For me? I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Truth – Y’all, this wedding photographer creative entrepreneurship – it’s totally worth it. Every single event is an absolute joy, every client a blessing, and the only other thing I could ever imagine doing is to help others who want to pursue this dream build their own successful wedding photography empire.
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