Drawbacks of Being a Wedding Photographer

This blog today is a day in the life of a wedding photographer. Being a wedding photographer (or any other type) can take a toll on your body–wearing uncomfortable dress shoes, running around and all the uncomfortable positions you need to get into to get the best photos and standing all day/night can especially hurt your feet. We all know how long weddings are, extending well into the night and early morning.  It goes with the territory and, of course, I love it. I have nothing but praise for the profession. I am the guy behind the camera and the person who can make or break the memory of a wedding (apart from a video I suppose). People prefer the old-fashioned approach. They want a permanent album that documents the big day in their life.

When couples view my work after the ceremony and reception, they are thrilled with the results. I give careful consideration to each and every shot and try not to miss important guests or events such as the cake cutting, garter toss, throwing of the bride’s bouquet, etc. Every traditional wedding features these events. If they don’t, it seems like something is missing. The bride and groom want to remember them and they are almost as important as the family shots or the happy couple alone.

So how do I survive all this partying? In fact, I don’t drink or eat on the job. I wait until I get home, but first I have a special ritual. I own a great foot massager that I found at https://www.highermassage.com/ and it is already out of the closet and waiting. Let me tell you about this device. If you have any sort of foot problem or your feet are simply tired, it will transform you into a new person. The machine plugs in any outlet and then it works its magic. You can change the settings from low and medium to high, and then go for the wondrous vibrating choice. Each mode offers a different experience. You can hold the unit and apply it where you want. It is more effective in my opinion than the type of gadget you stand on, although it does include a heat treatment.

I would rather be sitting down during my relief massage. I have already been standing when I indulge myself in this treat. Maybe you can buy both types for a full effect. I find the portable one to be enough as I can move it in any direction. No sore spots go untouched. People swear by human foot massage, but I am way too busy to go to a salon. Do yourself a favor and buy a home massager so you can use it whenever you want. It isn’t that expensive or you can hint around to friends and relatives as your birthday approaches. I used to print photos from the Internet and place them on the kitchen table until I got what I wanted.

Rough Wedding This Weekend

My blog is here to tell stories about the life of a wedding photographer. I chose it for a reason. But not every wedding is successful. Fortunately, most go without a hitch. As a photographer, I have seen it all. I don’t mean just the wedding cake toppling over, but all kinds of incidents from a family fight to a bridesmaid tripping on her dress. I take it all in stride and put down my camera for a moment until normalcy is restored. If you make a big deal about failures, the bride and groom will suffer. It is best to laugh and move on.

I have heard boring speeches from the best man or slipped swear words. Sometimes, he starts choking or gasping for air. A fast glass of water helps to quell the embarrassment. I always stand quietly in the wings when anything odd happens. I do love the festivities or I wouldn’t be in this business. I love to see happy, smiling faces. It makes my work more successful. It would be fun to record all the mishaps just one time and make an album of them for the couple. So far, I have not fulfilled this goal – but I am thinking about it. It would go straight to Instagram.

Finally, I must mention a completely different kind of wedding disaster that occurred at a particularly rough wedding recently. It took place in a lovely garden; but the DJ’s outdoor speaker system didn’t work so nobody heard the bride and groom being announced when it was time to gather for the cutting of the cake. Shortly after, the music cut out partway through their first dance. The bride had spent ages reading about the benefits of outdoor speaker systems at https://www.outdoorlightandsound.com/key-benefits-outdoor-speaker-systems/, only to be let down by the DJ’s poor choices. It took a long time for it to be restored such that the flower girl fell asleep. At least it wasn’t the groom.

Technological problems are the bane of a bride and groom’s existence. You have nightmares about things going awry. Music is the background for the party and you don’t want it to fail. One thing you never think to ask your hired band is what kind of speakers they will bring.

There are always occasions when the bride’s veil topples to the floor, a kid spills his juice on the groom, or the mother-in-law has a meltdown in public. I have seen people balk at the cold food or when they find a hair in their mashed potatoes. The worst thing I ever saw was when a cricket leaped across a table of guests going from plate to plate. Women don’t hesitate to scream when anything out of the ordinary happens. The most common problem is when people get drunk and speak their minds. During one catfight, a glass of wine was tossed in one of the fighter’s faces. The retaliation was hysterical. The other gal grabbed her opponent’s hair and pulled out her French role. Pins went flying! It made a boring wedding a real hoot.

Set Yourself up For Success

I may be able to preserve a wedding ceremony forever on film, but I can’t seem to save my camera bag. It doesn’t hold anything but the one device and it is wearing out fast. It no longer has its original cachet. It isn’t presentable to take to special events that I photograph. It is time for a new one. I have something particular in mind.

I can’t seem to find the ideal camera bag that fits all my gear. If I do find a roomy one, it is unattractive and made out of faux leather. There isn’t a big market for expensive bags given that people use their small cell phones and tablets these days. I will have to design my own, I suppose, to get what I want. As I look around online and in stores, I see some positive features on one and other features on another. No one bag has it all – at any price.

I make a list of what every modern bag should have, based on the one I found at https://www.businessbagreview.com/features-every-modern-business-bag/. I don’t care if it is expressly made for a photographer as long as it holds what I have to tote. A business-style backpack may do just fine. The type for corporate work comes in leather or at least the trim is a fine material. My first choice is leather all around, preferably a masculine black. It is part of dressing the part. At a wedding, everyone is in a black suit or a tuxedo if it is very formal. I always set myself up for success by wearing a good shirt and pants, sometimes with a basic jacket – all in classic black. I don’t stand out and call attention to myself this way, for fear of the impact that a review on Facebook can have. And it just isn’t the clothes. A worn-out camera would be worse than wearing a white suit. It would be an eye grabber.

I am getting closer as I survey the backpack scene. Here is what I need for my professional life: a good size well-made backpack in black leather with silver snaps or zippers (not too prominent). It is no school boy’s bag. It will be compact when it is closed although it is okay if it opens up for extra storage. The camera finds its own space first, complete with its protective cover. In a compartment to the side sits an alternative lens. Cords and other accessories go in smaller areas that are closable for better segregation. The outer pocket of the bag will store my phone so it is in plain sight for easy reach. My wallet, car keys, a protein bar, sunglasses, aspirin, and a bottle of water go inside wherever they can. It would be best if they were not altogether. I value organization.

I am designing in my mind. The perfect bag looms on the horizon. The question is, where will I find it? I am starting to seriously think of having it custom made. It may be a serious investment, but I will finally have what I want.

Another Crazy Wedding

Weddings don’t always go smoothly. Anything can happen, although it is not that often. I am thankful for this. I don’t expect disasters and unforeseen events to mar the festivities. Believe it or not, however, odd things have happened to me or the guests. There was the time when the big ice sculpture melted all over the place. It was a mini flood! The ladies were ruining their satin shoes. How about the occasion when the three-tiered cake tipped over because of the extreme heat. It wasn’t easy for the servers to clean it up and salvage at least the top part with the bride and groom statues.

The mayhem didn’t end here. Recently I was aghast that one of the drunk guests knocked over my tripod, breaking it. Another crazy wedding to add to my growing list. People do drink a bit too much during the reception dinner and they can wreak havoc in various ways. They can knock things over like bottles of wine and glasses. They can fall on the dancefloor or cause another person to trip. Usually things don’t happen directly to me or my equipment. This time it did and the bride and groom were devastated. They worried that I would no longer be able to snap some casual photos. We had already done the formal work right after the ceremony.

I told them not to worry and that I had another tripod in my van. I can also walk about using a hand-held camera. If I do a set up with stationary lights, I like to stabilize the camera. I must admit, it was very annoying. I will have to fix the tripod when I get home as it is a different size than my backup device. I tried not to think about the delay this will cause for my next job. I went on about my photography business with a smiling face. As it turns out, the pictures were great. You would never know that a disaster had happened. People didn’t look drunk even though I knew they were. They get in their own world in a partying mood, without thinking of the consequences.

The tripod is metal and needed a good bit of welding. I took it to my workspace at home and got out my multi-process welder which doesn’t get much use. I was happy to have it on hand and not have to run out and borrow the neighbor’s. It is useful for such small jobs although it was purchased to aid in plumbing repairs after I got the idea on Twitter. Pipes are always leaking. If you are a handyman or do-it-yourselfer, such a welder is a necessity of life. There are so many practical applications.

With the tripod back in working order, I was off to the next wedding hoping that nothing dire would happen. It was a normal event and went off without a hitch. Let’s hope that it will be a long time before I see problems.

Making Money Last

My mother was a great economizer. She set a good role model for the entire family. I wonder why my brother turned out to be such a spendthrift. He was always borrowing money from me as a kid. He never planned his expenditures beyond a day at a time. And there was always something he had to have. No wonder I abhor these kinds of commodity-oriented personalities. I have turned out quite the opposite. I am truly my mother’s son. In my profession—I am a photographer—you must to learn to budget. Money is sporadic, but when it rains, it pours. I put it away for leaner times. I wouldn’t dream of buying something extravagant. If I have a really good year, I may buy a new car, and it will be a used one.

I am thrifty to the bone. I find ways to recycle, repurpose, socks money away, and conserve. It affects everything I do. I never throw away leftovers and heat them the next day. I always fill the washer or the dishwasher to the brim for one full load. Several small ones are wasteful. I believe in water conservation. I read about the lack of clean water worldwide on Twitter and how scientists are struggling to invent systems that will purify polluted streams and lakes. We do not have a water shortage in my area, but I am nonetheless mindful of waste. Most people I know buy bottled water in cases and go to discount stores. That is their version of thrift. I get it. But it takes resources and energy to produce any goods, so I prefer to drink filtered water instead. I don’t deny water bottlers a right to make a living, but it shouldn’t have to cost so much for this vital liquid when it comes right out of the tap.

Mine comes out a slight rusty color and I know there are abundant chemicals swimming around. I wouldn’t want to live without my water filtering system, even to take a shower or a bath. I wouldn’t ever wash my face with rust-laden fluid. I actually know people who bathe in bottled water. Michael Jackson was the originator of this luxury. In the old days. People heated water in an old metal kettle on the stove. Now we have these ingenious filtering systems for specific areas of the house, like the bathroom and kitchen. You can buy a whole house unit if you want pure water for your outdoor plants. There is nothing like freshly-shampooed hair that was washed with a filtered spray. It is so soft and tangle free. Let me tell you that the money I spent (and I don’t spend freely as you can see) is worth its weight in gold. I am not lacking in water as I limit my showers to ten minutes, and I do whatever I can to control usage. Laundry is done once a week. I don’t even like to mop the floors, but I do it weekly anyway.

Tuxes and Hoops

As a wedding photographer, I look for unique opportunities so that the final shots are interesting and fun. There is a time to take formal photos for the wedding album including the usual bride and groom portrait, cutting the cake, tossing the bouquet, the first dance, putting on the garter, and the family group picture. Every couple wants to document their day in a traditional way. They can choose color or black and white, even sepia, to make them unique. Alongside the required photos, I like to throw in a lot of candids. These could be the bridesmaids getting ready, the bride looking in a mirror, the bride and her mother and/or sisters putting on makeup, etc. Other candids happen naturally before and after the ceremony. For example, at one recent event, the groomsmen started playing basketball with a portable hoop like these in the backyard of the venue. It was amusing to see them jumping and dribbling while in their tuxes. They didn’t seem to be worried about getting messed up. I guess they were killing time between the ceremony and the reception. I had to get these shots for sure.

The groomsmen were the most colorful characters that day by far and I shot a series based on their antics. Of course, they were also tame in the wedding group portrait. They stood stoically before my camera. I bet they couldn’t wait to get back to playing basketball. Who on earth thought of bringing a portable hoop to a wedding? There is always one goof-off in every crowd. I tried to guess which guy was the culprit. I never found out. I did get to know them a little better than I usually do. I am so busy with the camera that I don’t really speak to anyone. With this group, I wanted to talk about hoops. I love the game and don’t shy away from recounting great shots. Each of the groomsmen had his favorite team or player. We could have gone on all night, but there was a ceremony to attend.

One of the guys mentioned that he had been a good basketball player in high school. If he hadn’t wanted to get into law school, he would have gone on to become part of a college team. I am envious of anyone who gets to play as a student or later professionally. There are so few who make it in the big time. These players are our heroes. We watch them in person or on TV and admire their slick moves. I look forward to game night at my best friend’s home when a bunch of us get together, watch, compare stats, and drink beer. There is no better social venue than a basketball game. I have to admit that I also love football, soccer, and baseball; but there are only so many hours in the month when you have the free time to indulge in sports as a fan.

Potential New Side Gig

I have taken a day hiatus from photography to read table saw reviews online. Like any product on the Internet, there are dozens complete with price quotes and honest testimonials. I am not in the market for one as I just inherited a very good unit from an older relative. It came with a note to try my hand at making my own frames. When you do as many weddings as I do (these events pay the bills), you can spend a bundle on framing. I like to present every couple with a memento of their special day. The rest of the photos go in a white leather bound album. I thought my relative hit the nail on the head. I could benefit from his thoughtful bequest. Thus I am reading and reading.

Some websites boast of the research they put into their reviews and I gravitate toward them. In surveying the Web on the subject, I found a great tool site that included a fine table saw just like mine. I agree with one review in particular: they say a bad workman blames his tools. Apparently from the responses of visitors this is so true. Hence the need to upgrade your gear to something that can perform to top standards. You want a table saw that is durable and reliable first and foremost or you will never get the results of a professional. I probably am still in the do-it-yourself category but I am aiming high. I hope with my new equipment that I can make perfect frames. I would like to fabricate a few options in different styles and stains. Wood is a very flexible material and is easy to manipulate any way you like. I can do traditional curved sides or flat modern ones. If I don’t want the usual blonde or mahogany colors, I can cover the wood slats with shiny enamel.

Many couples specify the kind of mood they want to create with their wedding photos. Some want to go full color while others want sepia or other monochrome. Some want a romantic mood with mist in the distant background and others prefer something close to a documentary approach. Of course, the frame must suit the final results. My gift of a framed wedding photo must show my artistry and great eye. Now the question is whether I have a steady hand with a saw. To be more specific, I have to master a professional grade cabinet saw assembly with a fifty-two inch T-glide fence system, rails, and extension table. You see that I am learning my stuff. Not only do I know how to describe my saw, but I can use it for my new side gig. I have loads of practice frames to prove it.

Now I have an attractive display of frame samples mounted on a wall in my workroom. For every wedding that I shoot, I will choose just the right frame. I am beginning to feel like a pro.

Great Shoot Today

Getting a great wedding shoot is what you need if you’re going to make it in the business. People will want to look for all of your best pictures on your website. If you aren’t able to do that, you’re going to lose out to the rest of your competitors. If you want to get ahead without great shoots, you’re going to have to set yourself up as a wedding photographer who is more affordable. Affordability is great, but high-quality shots are better.

Great wedding shoots are actually harder than they look, which a lot of photographers realize right away. For one thing, wedding shoots can look really formulaic unless you really try hard in order to get them to have the right composition. There are lots of images that people have seen a million times in their wedding magazines and in the wedding albums of their friends. You don’t want to produce all of those same images, again and again, creating a situation in which the pictures all look the same except for the heads of the people involved.

Pictures of the happy couple getting caught in a kiss in midair are everywhere. Pictures where they’re holding hands and smiling at each other during a stroll are everywhere as well. You should try to really look at all of the different pictures of weddings in the zeitgeist, going out of the way to try to create pictures that are very different at the same time.

Obviously, some wedding shots are everywhere for a reason. Some people really do just want wedding pictures that are simple and straightforward. People are going to want shots with their families and their friends. They’re going to want some pictures that might as well be yearbook pictures. Wedding pictures are like yearbooks for a lot of people. It really is not about the art or lack thereof. It’s all about trying to make sure that people are able to keep track of all of their favorite memories, making it easier for people to relive some of the best moments of their lives.

You have to strike some kind of a balance between the art that you want to produce and the more practical images that they’re going to want you to produce. Some of your pictures can be more artistic. Some of them can be the sorts of group shots that a lot of people would take with their Polaroids back in the day. You can still play around with the lighting in order to make the product as good as possible. However, you’re still going to need to create the shots that are done for practical purposes.

There are lots of great ways to express yourself as a wedding photographer. You just have to make sure that you can do that while still making the ceremony come alive and while still making the wedding album a perfect time capsule.

Unhappy Bride

Wedding photography is great if both parties are really happy and if everything is going all right. That isn’t always going to be the case, though, no matter how much people want it to be. You’re going to see people fighting at the wedding. You’re going to see some disagreements and some things are not going to go according to plan. One of the worst things that can happen, of course, is the possibility of an unhappy bride.

Brides have a tendency to care about the ceremony more than grooms, although this is not always the case. In a couple where both parties are brides, one bride is usually going to take the ceremony more seriously than the other. Finding an unhappy bride is not difficult unless it’s a marriage with two grooms.

As the wedding photographer, it is not your job to play marriage counselor. You can try, but even if you do, you’re probably not going to be able to do so successfully. Unhappy brides are not going to want the wedding photographer to comfort them because coming from you; it’s just going to look like you’re trying to stop her from being upset so it doesn’t ruin the picture. Sadly, that actually is something that you’re going to need to worry about on top of everything else.

Brides aren’t going to be unhappy forever. They’re going to want to look back on all of their wedding pictures happily, and you still have to make that happen for them even if they are temporarily really unhappy. Usually, brides are not going to be consistently unhappy during the entire wedding ceremony. They’re going to have some moments where they are actually able to hold it together, even if the wedding is not going the way that they planned. Those are the moments that you should try to capture.

Sometimes, people really are going to need to comfort the bride in advance, or it isn’t going to work. In that case, it’s often a better idea to try to get someone else to comfort her. She’s probably going to prefer to have a friend do it. It’s difficult to be a mediator under these circumstances. However, if you’ve been observing the dynamics of the wedding previously, you might at least have some idea of who you can choose to help you mediate. Someone should be able to provide the bride with comfort.

Of course, if there really is no one else, then you might have to be the one who will do it. The bride might actually like that if she really is getting very little support from everyone else. If you try to emphasize the fact that you’re trying to be there for her, you might be able to actually make her feel better. This could lead to better pictures, and it is also going to make people respond more positively to you and to your work in the future. You’ll probably get a great review from a bride if this goes according to plan.

Being Present But Invisible

Are you a wedding photographer? People want you there, but they don’t want you there, kind of at the same time. They do want you there taking the pictures, but you’re the person who’s there trying to capture their happy memories. The happy memory that they want of you is mainly going to consist of you being the great person who gave them fantastic pictures that they’ll treasure forever.

As the wedding photographer, you should try to make sure that you’re in the background as much as possible. Think of yourself as an observer of the events, which is what you should be one way or another. You should also try to make sure that you’re able to get a sense of everything and all of your surroundings. People who are videotaping the weddings are going to have an easier time with this part of the process, of course, because they have to do this anyway. The people who are taking still pictures have to remind themselves to be present and yet out of sight and out of mind.

The way that you make yourself present but invisible is all going to depend on the location of the wedding. If you’re in an indoor area that has big balconies or something like that, then it’s going to be much easier for you to somehow find a way to stay out of sight and out of mind. Standing on the stairs or some other location that is going to be largely empty will usually do the trick. You can also find it easy to do that sort of thing if you’re in pretty much any indoor area, even if it is only one story high. Buildings have a lot of their own natural hiding places that seem to work for everyone else.

It’s a little harder to stay out of sight and out of mind when you’re in an area that is open, which will happen if you’re trying to photograph a wedding outdoors. You’re still going to have to stand in a way that makes you less of a part of the procession and more an observer. This isn’t because people have any negative view towards wedding photographers inherently. However, people are going to want them to feel as if they are just part of everything else and not that wedding photographers are in the group. Weddings are about the friends and families of the new couple, and ultimately, that’s how they’re going to need to be in practice.

Fortunately, you don’t have to work that hard to be invisible. You’re just going to need to make sure that you don’t draw too much attention to yourself, and you’re going to be fine. If you try to only take pictures when the moment calls for it and you aren’t constantly calling people in for the sake of posing, it’s going to be that much easier for you. People accept the wedding photographer as an important part of the reception and the wedding, but very much the person who is recording the proceedings and not a part of the procession. As such, you’re not going to have to hide or go too far out of your way to stay in the ceremony but invisible.

None of this should make you feel like ‘the help.’ This isn’t about you being the help. This is about making sure that you’re able to get the best pictures. Being involved in the ceremony too much is going to stop that from happening. You’ll be ‘off-duty’ on plenty of other weddings. On your working weddings, you have to be present but invisible.

Finding a Quality Printer

You could be the greatest wedding photographer in the world, but if you don’t have a quality printer, you’re still going to have a hard time when it comes to actually doing the best work that you can. The sad thing is that the happy couple is not going to always understand that it wasn’t your fault, but the printer’s. You’re the wedding photographer. They’re going to blame you.

Lots of times, finding the best printer is just a matter of making sure that you read reviews and ask around. This is one of the many reasons why you should try to be familiar with a lot of the other people in your field if you’re going to be a wedding photographer. They can introduce you to new clients in some cases, if they are busy and they can’t complete a certain job, for instance. They can also point you to the best printers. In many cases, it should be easy for people everywhere to find the best printers if they are affiliated with all of the other wedding photographers in your area.

Sometimes, it’s also a good idea to look at the portfolios of the different wedding photographers online in order to find information about their printers. This can help you move forward when it comes to deciding on your own printer. Printers are almost all going to claim that they’re the best. They’re all going to say that they have all sorts of different great attributes, and it is not always going to be obvious who is honest and who isn’t honest. Finding a quality printer isn’t about listening to what they say. It’s about listening to what the customers say. In this day and age, it’s easier to find vocal customers than ever before, and it’s easy to find the satisfied and dissatisfied customers now.

How to Set Yourself Apart

There are lots of wedding photographers today. People can find so many of them online nowadays, and a lot of wedding photographers are willing to travel. You really are going to be up against so much competition these days that managing to establish yourself can be really hard. However, if you can set yourself apart, then you should be able to get clients.

Some people try to set themselves apart with a gimmick of some kind. If you’re a wedding photographer who does something really special in order to prepare the scene for the weddings in some way, then you can really manage to stand out immediately. While some people don’t like wedding photographers that are gimmicky in any way, other people really do want their weddings to stand out in some way that is very dramatic, and wedding photographers who can do that are actually going to make a big difference.

If you’re a wedding photographer with some sort of specialty, that’s going to make a difference in how much you are able to stand out as well. The legalization of gay marriage in the United States and many other places is creating a lot of new opportunities for the wedding industry. Some gay couples are nervous about hiring people to help them plan their weddings, given the current cultural climate. If your portfolio is full of all of the weddings of same-sex couples that you have commemorated, and you manage to establish yourself as a gay-friendly photographer, you can get a lot of new clients right away.

You can also specialize in weddings that are unusual in some way. Some people like to get married under very difficult situations and in areas that are hard to reach. Doing that can really allow people to make their marriages memorable, and they need to find wedding photographers that are willing to join them on a hilltop, a mountain, or anywhere else like that. If you’re the adventurous type of wedding photographer, it’s going to be that much easier for you to set yourself apart from a lot of the other people who are in this field.

There are other ways that you can set yourself apart. Some photographers try to do this in more of the technical sense. You can try to make yourself out to be the sort of photographer who is going to make sure that all of the pictures are photographed using either the latest photography or using vintage photography. Some people will usually prefer their weddings to look really modern. Other people want their weddings to look more like classic or traditional weddings. Both of these formats are fine, and people should try to play around with the possibilities that they imply. If you are a photographer and you can do both, you’re going to have a lot of very satisfied clients who are capable of appreciating your wide range of work.

Having lots of styles and a diverse range of clientele is the way to stand out today. If your portfolio is full of photographs of non-traditional weddings, people will know that you’re a photographer who is on the level. If your portfolio is full of pictures that really look different and that really stand out from most of the other pictures in the marketplace today, you’re going to get more clients on that basis alone. Being the tolerant photographer or the skilled photographer is the way to go.