Some photographers shoot every thing they can, trying to eke out a living by specializing in everything. Babies, landscape, corporate events, seniors…Land a wedding, and it’s like the holy grail of photography! Just a day’s work for a few thousand? Sweet!
Wedding photography is a special niche. When I just getting back into photography, it’s one that I gravitated to. There’s something about a new life, 2 joined as one, the excitement. It’s supposed to be a once in a lifetime event that the couple will remember forever.
The truth of the matter is that there are so many more logistics that go into it than the casual observer can fathom. There’s the engagement shoot that’s often added in, the consultation time, the hours upon hours of price comparison of different vendors in order to make a wedding photography plan–what prices, products, what’s too high?, etc. (I can’t tell you how many days my husband and I worked on the latter).
And the editing–oh my. Try going through 1200+ photos, discarding the eye blinks and nose wiping and editing the nice ones. Oh yeah–want a weekend off? Nope, not likely if it’s your full time gig.
A number of times, I had shot weddings with others as the 2nd photographer. My assignment was easy–what to shoot, what to look for, what angle, anything else you’d like to add it is icing on the cake. It was perfect for me.
I love the detail shots of the wedding cake, the accessories, the dress, the party favors.
But the pay? Not so good, not in comparison to the “primary” shooter (who happened to have to do all the aforementioned work and then some).
Stress + responsibility = good pay. Less stress + more fun = less pay. It’s all good.
My one and only wedding that I sold was to acquaintances whose daughter was getting married. The engagement shoot was fun. There were definitely a few hours put into the editing and creation of the book to be signed at their wedding.
But the wedding itself. The stress! What if I missed a critical shot? What if my flash died at a critical moment? Thank goodness I had another shooter who shot a lot.
Trying to be good at sales, marketing, photography was too much, and it was stressing me out. I love photography, but my hobby was becoming a chore. My husband and I had a frank talk about it, and he told me since I loved conceptual and thematic work, then that’s what I should specialize it. Does this mean I don’t like to shoot weddings anymore? Absolutely not! I’m happy to do them. But as a second shooter.
Unless you’re chill. Then we can talk. 😉
Weddings are tiring affairs–the last one was 9 hours of my primarily being on my feet for an outdoor, steamy wedding. But the light was beautiful, the bride gorgeous, and the groom so easy to work with.
Had I not shot second, I wouldn’t have had access to such a beautiful bride in a gorgeous dress. I edit a few photos that I’m particularly pleased with, and I’m finished. There’s no shame in being a second and not wanting to be a primary shooter on a regular basis.
This is one more way I can love what I do. Sometimes primary, sometimes secondary. That’s the kind of balance I can live with.