Wedding Photography - Portraiture under adverse conditions
So you think you want to be a wedding photographer? Well your first thought is flawed, you need to know that you want to be a wedding photographer. Some people turn to wedding photography for poor reasons, amongst which we can list:
1. They think they will make a lot of money.
2. They are unsuccessful at everything else they have tried.
3. They can't think of anything else to do.
4. They like playing with their new camera.
5. They would like more lenses for the above.
6. They have been dropped from the First XI and have Saturday afternoons free.
Sadly there are degrees of truth in all the points and even more sadly the first one is least likely to be fulfilled. The truth is that those who are successful at business are likely to be, or have been, successful at other ventures that they have undertaken. At the present time in the UK the number of new businesses starting has risen by 10 per cent; sadly the number closing has risen by 50 per cent (all businesses, not just photographic, but we have had our share, of course). Lack of planning is one of the key drivers of failure, 90 per cent of the failed businesses did not have a business plan.
As a potential starter in wedding photography you have a catch-22 to solve first - how do you know you like it until you have done it and who will pay you to do it if they know you have never done so. Wedding photography, first and foremost, is a business, not a hobby. A hobby is something you do for free, a business activity is something you get paid to do. One of the attractions of photography is sometimes it can be a 'hobby' that you get paid for! This leaves open the possibility of easing yourself slowly away from your weekday occupation until your hobby becomes your sole source of income. Wedding photography is not unique in this, but you are unlikely to find somebody acting as a 'hobby dentist' at the weekends and then deciding to go full time! An additional characteristic of weddings is that they are, in the main, conducted at the weekend, leaving open the possibility of dual occupations. Providing you are happy to forego your leisure time this can work, but many find that the strain of two jobs and no fun makes Jack a dull boy.
Another common driver is early retirement or redundancy. This has the advantage in many cases of providing a buffer of cash to keep you going while you generate some income. Cash flow is always a problem in wedding photography - you can hardly expect a couple to pay the entire bill ahead of the wedding, unless you are such a big name that you can make such demands, in which case you need not read this article anyway.
Regardless of all else, you must have a desire to take photographs and be (or learn to be) creative. It is difficult to imagine a good wedding photographer with no idea at all about composition or ability to see and catch a fleeting moment.
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