Life as a wedding photographer is a whirlwind adventure from start to end. Not only are you entrusted to share and capture one of the most important days in people’s lives, but you get to live each day creatively, expressively and with passion.
It goes without saying that we think that being a wedding photographer is one of the greatest career paths imaginable. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it’s challenges. For many photographers, some of the challenges that come with the territory can come as a bit of a surprise, mostly because there are few sources of truth about what to expect along the way.
To counterbalance this void, we’ve compiled a few of the main challenges of wedding photography that nobody warns you about. We do so not to scare you, but prepare you. Let’s take a look…
It’s not cheap to get started
As a wedding photographer, you need equipment that will see you through every possible eventuality. From the hardware, to the editing program, to the fast-processing computer, to the cloud backup storage – being a photographer doesn’t come cheap.
When you’re starting out as a wedding photographer you’ll have to invest a significant sum of money, just to get you off the ground. Add to that that you may need to do a couple of low paid (or potentially free) second-shooter jobs to get your portfolio off the ground, and you’ll soon start to feel the pinch.
The great news is that – though new equipment is constantly being released – investing in solid startup gear should see you through the next few years. So whilst the initial outlay might feel painful, you should then be set for a considerable time to come.
Your income will be seasonal
If you only plan to do wedding photography, then you should prepare yourself for the fact that there will be dry spells of income during the year.
Most weddings tend to take place during the summer months. This means you’ll have a flurry of bookings during that time, and then perhaps only a small trickle thereafter. With time, you’ll find your own way to diversify your service to maintain a steady income throughout the year. Until that time, you should make sure to set some money aside each month to tide you over the winter months.
Running a photography business takes time
As a wedding photographer you’re effectively a one-person-army running everything from the creative projects themselves, right through to your accounting and building a business pipeline. If you decide to start your own photography business, you’ll very quickly have to learn how to market yourself, create business plans, and manage your finances. This can be a huge drain on your headspace, especially if you are a very creatively minded person.
For many people, it takes time to find a good balance between the creative and business side of things. Surround yourself with others who can advise (or do) the things you don’t understand (or simply loathe). Over time you’ll pick up the skills you need to run a successful photography business, and in the meantime, do your best to find a great mentor to coach you along the way.
You’ll be perceived as an expensive service
Many couples simply don’t understand the sheer amount of work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ once the wedding is done. The many hours of post-production that you put into creating beautiful work are a mystery to most people outside of the photography scene. Because of this, wedding photographers are almost always considered an expensive service.
Think carefully about whether to put your prices online when you are getting started out as a newbie photographer. If you need some advice on this, take a look at this article.
It can be isolating
Wedding photography is a funny thing. To do it, you really have to like people. But you also have to be ok working mostly alone. It’s such a paradox!
Whilst you will spend you entire career surrounded by people, you’ll have to get used to being on the sidelines. You’ll be at celebrations with people, but you won’t be part of them. This can be quite isolating and difficult to get used to when you’re starting out.
You should also be prepared for a pretty tricky work-life balance. You will mostly work at times when your friends and loved ones are off, and visa versa, especially during the peak summer months.
Be sure that you find ways of involving others into your workflow so that you have people to bounce ideas off and you don’t work 100% alone. This really helps to keep your motivation and creativity at it’s peak.
You need to be prepared for anything
There are few jobs that require you to think as quickly on your feed as wedding photography. From one moment to the next, you could find yourself battling a freak weather change, or last minute adjustments to venues or schedules. Over time, you’ll learn how to go with the flow and be adaptable to these changes. But in the early days, it can be stressful!
One thing that’s for sure, life as a wedding photographer will be rewarding, challenging and utterly wonderful in equal measure. Be prepared for the tricky bits, and embrace the rest. As time passes you’ll learn how to weather those challenges like a boss.
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.