May 24, 2023
Before I started as a wedding photographer, I wondered what it was really like. When I finally got into the industry, I realized there were pros and cons of being a wedding photographer… just like any other job!
Today, I’m giving you the complete and honest truth about what it’s like to be a wedding photographer. If you’re in the position of trying to figure out if this career path is for you, I hope this is helpful!
When you start to get hired to photograph weddings, you’ll be present for some of the most intimate and beautiful moments of people’s lives – and that’s a true honor.
I’ve been photographing weddings for almost 15 years, and I’ve experienced many of these moments. It’s such a good feeling!
It’s going to take you years of time and effort to build your reputation and portfolio before you begin landing jobs consistently. Because it’s a subjective, art-based industry, you have to earn a lot of trust before someone hires you.
Don’t be discouraged, though: it’ll definitely happen as you gain experience and knowledge.
When you do start getting booked, it’s true that you will miss out on many of your own precious memories. Unfortunately, I have had to miss out on friends’ baby showers and weddings in order to document other people’s events.
Although you might be giving up your own memories, you’ll get to experience many amazing locations, venues, and cultures instead.
I’ve traveled and taken pictures all over the world for this career. As a photographer, travel isn’t necessarily a luxury – but just part of the job!
The wedding days you work can be very long. For example, this past weekend, I started to get ready for a wedding at 11 AM. I gathered my gear, traveled, and photographed… and didn’t leave until 11:30 PM that night. I traveled back home, and didn’t get back to bed until 1 AM.
When I first started photographing, I’d photograph 6-7 hour days. But as the events become more elaborate, days for a wedding photographer can be 10-12 hours long.
Unless you do a ton of portraits during the week, you can have very flexible weekdays. We photograph all of our sessions in the afternoons on weekdays, primarily locally. I try to get even my out-of-state clients to come into New Orleans for these sessions, which frees up my mornings to focus on the business while working from home.
I spend the weekends photographing weddings, and the weekdays are spent editing, banking, content creation, meetings, and anything else business-related. It’s nice to have our time structured like this!
At the end of the day, photography is a service-based industry. As with any service-based industry, not every single person you meet will have your same personality. You’ll be faced with situations that challenge you to be professional, no matter the circumstances.
I’ve had crazy situations pop up in my career, but I truly believe it’s made me a better person and professional. And remember, for every person who isn’t kind, you’re going to meet an incredible person who you really connect with! 🤍
Although there are ways to save money when you’re getting started, it’s still an expensive endeavor. Gear, software, contracts, education, and professionals you work with really add up. Start slowly and get only what you absolutely need at first.
Today, there are TONS of free resources out there for anyone wanting to start a wedding photography business! I started my business in 2008, and there were almost no photo educators at the time. Now, we have podcasts, YouTube, blogs, and more!
Find the educators you feel like are putting out good content. Then, if you want to take it to the next level, you can join conferences, workshops, and memberships like the Wedding Photography Society.
Most people work 9-5 on weekdays. It’s tough when your friends and family are BBQing and boiling crawfish (remember, I’m from Louisiana 🦐) and you’re packing up to go to a wedding for 12 hours.
Even though I LOVE what I do, I’m still away from friends and family.
Here’s the truth, though: you’re not alone. You just need to find the people who are in your position!
Find the people who understand what your lifestyle is like. That was a big part of why I created the Wedding Photography Society; I understood that our life was unique, and I wanted us to come together to talk about our shared experiences and struggles.
Don’t just connect with other photographers, though. Connect with planners, florists, and videographers, too. There are SO many beautiful friendships that can grow from this industry 🌷
Wedding photography is something people plan for well in advance. Sometimes we’re booked 18 months ahead of time! And you just can’t predict if you’ll be sick the day of.
If you’re ever in an emergency, fall ill, or even become pregnant, you can find a replacement with your new-found connections. If it’s a situation you can tough it out through, you should – but if you have good relationships with other photographers, you can call your friends and have them fill in during emergencies.
I’ve personally filled in for photographers when they have had COVID and have gone on maternity leave. It’s important that you’re available when others need you, too!
This particular industry doesn’t always provide for consistency. Our summers can be slow, but our falls and springs can be busy. This can lead to an inconsistent revenue, which is challenging.
But the pro is that there are ways around that to create consistency in your business. You can run your business well and still scale your business over time – starting with knowing your expenses and income.
Part of understanding the financial side of your business and creating more consistent revenue is having strong pricing. And your pricing can be the difference between having a profitable business or not!
Do you know why you’re charging what you’re charging? Do you know if it’s enough to keep you profitable? I have a free resource that will help you figure it out!
Grab my free Pricing Guide to help you:
Check it out below ⤵️