Ding! Ding! Bells ringing. Piano melody starts playing. Oh, here comes the bride, time to get to work.
A wedding is one of the most important events in a couple’s life. It is a stressful yet exciting event, for the couple and their family (the stress is mostly in the preparation rather than the actual day). Everything has to be perfect. Every important individual has to be there. Everything.
But what does it feel like to be a wedding photographer?
I’ve been a wedding photographer for several years, now shooting with my crew at Jazter Photography. I can say one thing: it’s stressful and hard. Why does the photographer feel stressed out? After all, it’s not his/her wedding.
I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just ain’t that good -Anonymous
A wedding is the most stressful photography job because things are unplanned (for the most part), and really you’ve only got one chance to snap the photo. Loose Yourself, by Enimem pretty much sums it up:
Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?
Things happen once at a wedding, you can’t ask the couple to redo putting on their rings, their toast, their cries, the first kiss, the first dance… their important moments. As a professional wedding photographer, you need to capture all of that. Not missing one moment…because it’s not redoable! If you miss it, you’re out of luck. The pros know and can anticipate when something magical, when a special moment worth a 1000 words is about to take place.
There are event times when we get treated like shit. We get left out of meals, we get milked to the extreme by the groomzilla and bridezilla. People think we are just snapping pictures and that anyone with a decent DSLR can do it. How ignorant! The time we took to polish our skills, the time we spent researching, practicing, coming up with new theories, make us who we are. One piece of advice I have always given to future brides that seek my advice is: “you get what you pay for.” Hiring a $500 photographer vs. a $2,000 photographer will not yield the same result. You cannot make a mediocre photographer a good one with constant pushing and prodding (this is not to say that all $500 photographers are mediocre, but people usually charge based on their skill level).
I’m tired of people asking if we could give a discount, a break, that they have a tight budget. We, at Jazter, now selectively decide who we want to take as a client vs. taking everyone as when we first started out. We don’t budge on the prices and we make sure that our personalities are compatable, plus to us, wedding photography is a hobby. It’s something we love to do, so in order to take the best shots, we need to feel respected and to enjoy working with our clients. We even developed our own unique photography style. When it’s all said and done, what will make the couple remember their important day? 20-30 years from now, they will be able to remember it by looking at the photographs. So should you invest in your photographer? After all, you’re buying a product that will last you a lifetime.
Now, being a wedding photographer isn’t all that bad. There are good points to it too. It’s similar to being an enterpreneur, because you are making someone’s life better and/or memorable. An enterpreneur tries to make something that changes the world. A wedding photographer captures a moment when a couple’s world changes. Us being there, we can freeze a moment in time when things seem magical, when the start of a journey begins, and the atmosphere is always positive.
What do I say when people ask me for advice when they want to start off being a wedding photographer? Make sure you love it. Make sure that’s the right photography style for you. Stay humble and go out there to shoot.
The number one skill that is most useful (apart from photography skills) is being organized. Being organized at planning, preparation, scheduling, packing what to bring, the amount of equipment, the people you work with, as well as finding out venue locations, and your editing work. The key to our success is that we over prepare, in other words, we plan for the worst and hope for the best.