11 Things No One Tells You About Becoming A Wedding Photographer

So, you’re interested in becoming a wedding photographer, huh? We get it, this job has some absolutely amazing perks to it. And the thought of shooting gorgeous celebrations, following your creative flow and being constantly thanked by couples eternally grateful for the photos you took of their day is tempting.

But then again, there are some things no one ever tells you when you set out to become a wedding photographer… We’ve listed them out for you today.

Still feeling all the butterflies for this job after reading this? Then you’re probably crazy enough to leap into the wondrous world of wedding photography!

Photographer: Ashley Maura

1. You Chose This Job Because You Love Being Around People and Don’t Want A Typical Desk Job? You’re in for A Surprise!

Wedding guests often assume that being a wedding photographer is just about as fun as a job can get. After all, they only ever see you when you’ve taken a shower in the morning and rocked up in a cool outfit, ready to capture yet another glorious wedding day. They see you take beautiful photos of happy people, maybe even eat a piece of wedding cake on your break. They assume that once you get home, the job is done. You can put your feet up for the rest of the week.

Very few people realize there’s another side to the job. And you will see its full extent only once you’re knee-deep in the muddy waters of working from home, required to wear all the hats and take full responsibility for every side of your business. The days when you haven’t gotten out of your pajamas or talked to a human. When you are either crying because you’re overwhelmed with work, panicking because your calendar won’t fill up or hustling for nothing but a podium position in the world procrastination championships.

You may have chosen this job because you love being around people and don’t want to sit at a desk all day. But you’ll soon realize that a busy wedding photographer spends looong stretches of time sitting down, in front of a screen, without human contact (editing marathon mid-wedding season, anyone?).

So, before you commit to a career in the wedding industry, make sure you enjoy mingling with wedding parties just as much as you enjoy hard work and longer stretches of time all to yourself.

2. You’ll Be Spending A Whole Lot of Time with Other People’s Friends. And Won’t See A Lot of Yours

Wedding photographers work on the weekends. Duh! Fridays & Saturdays are the most typical days for weddings. Add a couple of elopements and couple sessions throughout the week on top of the day-to-day runnings of your business and you got yourself quite a busy schedule. Let alone the fact that working internationally adds a couple of days of logistics and travel to every job you take on.

So, when your friends and family get all excited because summer comes around and the season of barbecues and outdoor parties, summer vacations and leisure is finally there – brace yourself. When they shop for their weekend barbecue, you’ll be packing your bags for a 3 hour drive up the coast. When everyone’s celebrating your sister’s birthday on a Saturday night, chances are you’re halfway across the country, capturing your client’s first dance.

Now as much fun as shooting weddings may be, missing out on quality time with your loved ones in order to spend it with people you’ve only met that day is the ultimate test whether you are truly carved out for the job.

Photographer: Damaris Demian

3. That Also Means You Won’t Have A Real Day Off in A Really, Really Long Time

It’s true, one of the perks of self-employment is that you can determine your own schedule. But that’s not necessarily the case when you’re a wedding photographer.

A successful photographer is usually booked 1-2 years in advance – and this isn’t the kinda job where you can wake up with a sore throat and call in sick.

Best case scenario is that your business will thrive from its early stages. But that also means you’ll be busy, REALLY busy, for a very long time.

4. Your View of The World Will Change Forever

Once you’ve trained your eye for amazing photographs, you will never see the world quite the same. The way the light breaks as it shines through the window? Wish I had someone to snap a quick portrait of in that light. That scenery outside your car window? Gotta keep that in mind in case I’m shooting a wedding round here. On a holiday in a beautiful speck of the earth? Better check Insta and see whether there’s a cool couple around there up for a shoot.

Not only will your eyes sharpen and you’ll be more attentive towards colors, light, angles and compositions – you will also see lots of opportunities for gorgeous photo, chances to grow your network, locations to shoot in. It’s a curse and a blessing all at once. Just make sure you really get to relax from time to time in order to rest and maintain that enthusiasm you have for the work.

4. Your View of The World Will Change Forever

Once you’ve trained your eye for amazing photographs, you will never see the world quite the same. The way the light breaks as it shines through the window? Wish I had someone to snap a quick portrait of in that light. That scenery outside your car window? Gotta keep that in mind in case I’m shooting a wedding round here. On a holiday in a beautiful speck of the earth? Better check Insta and see whether there’s a cool couple around there up for a shoot.

Not only will your eyes sharpen and you’ll be more attentive towards colors, light, angles and compositions – you will also see lots of opportunities for gorgeous photo, chances to grow your network, locations to shoot in. It’s a curse and a blessing all at once. Just make sure you really get to relax from time to time in order to rest and maintain that enthusiasm you have for the work.

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5. Your Job Really Isn’t About You. Like, At All

Is this couple going to pay what I charge? Will I like the styling of their wedding? Can I deliver what they expect? Is this wedding going to be a big step for my portfolio? Can I post this on Instagram?

Many photographers ask themselves these (and similar) questions. But newsflash: At the end of the day, none of this is about you.

Two people have decided to celebrate their union amongst their closest friends and families. They’ve chosen you to capture these moments for them. Being chosen for such an important mission alone should make you feel humbled and excited to get to work. Flowy wedding dresses, epic locations, fancy decor that’ll blow up your Instagram account – these things come at the very, very end of the list of what’s awesome about a wedding.

If you get into this job for the linen table runners, the copper mugs and boho dresses, if you’re only in for the epic sceneries – you should probably go look for another job.

Photographer: Kevin Spanier

6. You Thought You’d Join the Day as Your Couple’s Photographer? That Won’t Be the Only Job You’re Taking On!

The timeline derails and there’s no wedding planner to correct course? Congrats, you’re an event coordinator now. The recently divorced maid of honor has a meltdown a few minutes before everyone’s supposed to head out for the ceremony? A therapist is needed. At some point you’re probably also going to be the kindergartener of a tipsy group of groomsmen that won’t stand still for a single group shot. You’re also the person that everyone turns to as the “expert on weddings” whenever they’re not sure what to do. And on top of that you’re obviously also still expected to take all the right photos, keep your cool and be a ray of sunshine. Good luck!

Wearing many hats can be quite demanding and you certainly have some say in what role(s) you’re going to play for your couple that day. But hey, you are also guaranteed the eternal gratitude of your wedding couple when you bring your expertise to the table to help them have an epic day beyond just fulfilling the task you originally joined them for.

7. You Better Start Meditating, Like, Now

Weddings are madness. Nerves get in the way. Emotions are at an all-time high. Timelines get thrown off. Vendors don’t show up. Families clash. And in the middle: You. And you better be a sight of calm and serenity. It’s not easy. Maintaining your cool, even when things around you get hectic. Ensuring that you get all your shots, even if your time gets cut short. Maintaining friendly, calm and professional no matter what the day throws at you or how much your feet hurt at the end of the day.

Starting a meditation practice helps. So, does punching a pillow or throwing a hissy fit in your car right before you walk back to the reception with a smile.

8. There’s an Inhumane Level of Perfection Required of You. And You Will Have to Nail It Every. Single. Time.

No matter how many weddings you’ve shot that year. Whether it’s your first or your 27th. For you couple it’s their one big day, one that has been planned for months, maybe even years. They expect you to bring your A game. No matter what is going on in your life right now. No matter whether you enjoy being there or you woke up with the flu.

Some people enjoy that high level of responsibility. It makes them feel like their work matters. And carrying a lot of responsibility also means that people are beyond grateful if you do a great job and provide them with the breathtaking memories they hoped to receive. For others just the thought of carrying that responsibility is way too scary and chokes out any creativity. Know which side you’re on.

Photographer: Nikkolas Nguyen

9. You’ll Have to Make A Year’s Income Within A Relatively Short Time Span

Taking the leap into self-employment is a big decision. Managing your money when you need to account for taxes, insurance and business expenses yourself can be an overwhelming thought.

As a wedding photographer managing your money can be extra stressful, because you essentially need to make a year’s income within that time frame from May to October (the game is different if you live in an area where there’s basically summer all year round). This has changed a little bit ever since elopements have become more popular (those often take place on a weekday and therefore can be shot in addition to bigger wedding celebrations on the weekends) and many photographers are making extra income through workshops and digital products. But approaching your business in a way that accounts for dry spells, time off and realistic spending is still an essential part of being a wedding photographer.

If a couple of thousand dollars for one day of work once sounded like a lot to you, you’ll quickly get a reality check. Half of that goes to taxes, other shares towards insurance, equipment, software & hardware… and then you still gotta pay yourself in order to pay rent, buy food and treat yourself once in a while.

10. You’re Going to Have to Get Really Honest with Yourself

Embarking on the journey of self-employment is exciting, rewarding, scary and comes with a steep learning curve. Not only will you be confronted with situations that are unfamiliar – you will need to LOVE to throw yourself into these situations.

No couple is quite like the other. You will never know 100% what to expect on a wedding day. Navigating the muddy waters of self-employment and making a living off of your creative passion is a challenge that requires getting really honest with yourself about what works for you – and where you need help. Or what gets thrown off the list altogether.

11. You’re Stepping on An Absolute Roller Coaster. Enjoy the Ride!

Very few jobs are as varied and creative as the one of a wedding photographer. Despite its challenges and unique requirements, if you are born for this profession, you’ll love it all, even the stuff you don’t like so much doing in the moment. Like, admin. Or SEO optimizing your website. Because all of that stuff ultimately means you get to do something you’re really excited about.

We can’t wait to see you get to work!

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Written by:
Dirty Boots

Connection is what it’s all about. Feel free to reach out to us with any comments or questions you might have, even if it’s only to say hello. If it wasn’t for our beautiful community, this place just wouldn’t feel the same.

Photographer Tips
13 Oct 2019

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