Like many aspiring to get into this industry, I thought being a professional wedding photographer would mean my days would be full of sessions in exotic locations, drool-worthy weddings, epic dance parties, and over-the-top in love couples. Sure – I’ve experienced all of those things and will continue to, but they are not how I would describe an average day on the job. The truth about being a wedding photographer is much, much different.
For example, most couples are, in fact, over-the-top in love — but the stress of their wedding day, a day full of emotions and expectations, can manifest in unpredictable ways.
I love my job, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been moments I’ve hated. And while I wouldn’t change a thing that has happened over the last nine years – that doesn’t mean the last decade hasn’t thrown me a handful of struggles.
So, in an effort to be fully transparent with you aspiring photographers – I’m sharing my top five truths about being a wedding photographer.
The Truth About Being A Wedding Photographer
Say Goodbye to Your Weekends
I’m starting with a cold, hard fact that you’re not going to like. Your weekends are no longer your own when you’re a wedding photographer. Even if you don’t have a wedding every weekend, people will want to schedule meetings and engagement sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Your typical five day work week easily turns into seven, and if you’re not careful you’ll end up working 24/7. Working for yourself is a blessing because you can control your schedule, but it also means that the lines of work days and off days can be easily blurred.
Weddings Aren’t All Love and Magic
Yes, I would say that most couples getting married do love each other, but wedding days can be stressful and hectic for many reasons – most of which are out of your control. Families fight, dresses get dirty, people drink too much, and emotions run high. Put all these things together and a wedding can start to feel less than magical. Regardless, it’s still your job to find and document the most beautiful side of the day and give the couple images they will treasure forever.
You Will Spend More Time In Front of a Computer Than Behind Your Camera
From editing to emails, to growing your social media audience – you will be tied to your computer more than you could’ve predicted. Yes, I get to explore exotic locations, but in all reality, being onsite accounts for just a sliver of my actual workday. Most of the time, you’ll find me glued to my desk, working from my computer on the less-than-glamorous parts of my business.
You Will Miss Moments at Every Wedding (and that’s ok!)
As good as I’ve become at anticipating moments, it’s impossible to be in the right spot every single time. Things will inevitably get missed, but it’s your job to do everything in your power to give your couple the best coverage you can. You can drive yourself crazy thinking about how you would have done things differently after the fact, but often times it’s out of your control. Gear fails, people stand up in front of you, and sometimes you don’t have the best angle. Learn from each situation and do your best to set yourself up for success by having second or third shooters to help cover the day.
Things Rarely Go According to Plan
Weddings (like life) are unpredictable. There will be obstacles, challenges and Mother Nature to contend with. And all of these things usually end up affecting your schedule in one way or another. I’ve learned that the photographers time usually gets cut short to accommodate for these unplanned challenges. You can’t control it – so, go with it! And do it with a smile on your face. Having a positive attitude and expecting the unexpected is a great way to set yourself up for success.
So as you can see – while the career I’ve chosen is pretty damn exciting at times – there are many lows that accompany the highs. And as a community of photographers, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this.
It’s cathartic to admit that your profession isn’t always spot on with what you envisioned it would be. Once you’re able to admit this, you give yourself permission to learn and grow from the challenges. And by doing this, I promise you, you are paving the way for things to be better than you could’ve ever imagined!