When we attend weddings, we get a little inconvenienced sometimes when the wedding photographer steps in front of us to get that “perfect shot” of the couple at the expense of our view. What no one realizes is that he is only doing his job (though a good cameraman will try not to block out someone’s view unless he really cannot help it). He was hired by the couple to do the most important job: the one of preserving memories. What the congregation expects to be an easy job is in fact, deceptively simple. “What’s there to do except prance around looking stupid holding a huge camera with a bigger lens and making a few poses yourself to get the perfect shot?” we think.
Apparently the work in this profession involves a lot of pre and post planning that no one knows anything about, because the camera guy does such a good job of hiding it all from unsuspecting, drunk, partygoers at weddings. Besides doing what they came to do, sometimes experienced and good ones avert crises that no one anticipates, and solve issues that no one knows have cropped up. Here’s a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages that being a wedding photographer entails.
Pros of Being a Wedding Photographer
Witness to a Sacred Rite
A wedding photographer is an essential part of the proceedings, and helps create memories for one of the most important events in someone’s lives. They are witness to a range of raw emotions on an almost daily basis. An age-old rite in every custom, the photographer gets to see for himself and respect the bonds that develop in these unions. They get to participate in the happiness of almost complete strangers. What profession can be more emotionally satisfying and wholesome?
Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences Everyday
An event that supposedly happens once in everyone’s lifetime, a wedding occurs almost weekly or monthly for a wedding photographer. If it’s a destination wedding, the experience is even better. It’s a happy occasion that most wedding photographers appreciate and enjoy documenting. They like to believe that they are helping someone document happy memories, and to be a part of such an occasion is a humbling, gratifying, and once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The ability to adapt and be a versatile photographer is essential to survive in this profession. Subjects keep changing from food to architecture, people, and pets. The different shots that every client expects, like romantic ones, night shots, portraits, accommodating to various personalities, weather, different venues, candid or intense, all require the same photographer to have a specialized knowledge of various fields. This gives oodles of experience in a very short space of time.
Helping Someone Create their Story
Though it can be exhausting, the wedding photographer retains the power to document each moment of a wedding, therefore he creates a story with people’s emotions, their joy and initial nervousness, the elation, the sadness, and the relief. He runs through the whole gamut of emotions with his camera, and creates a book with sequential events that help the couple bring back all memories as a visual diary, a storybook they can narrate to friends and family later on.
Coordination and Teamwork with other Wedding Vendors
The photographer is one of the most responsible people in the wedding ensemble, because he is capturing memories, and he better do it well. Other vendors present have to work too, but it is the photographer who determines what the people do. He coordinates with venue authorities to know what he can do and cannot, where he is allowed to take shots, needs to oversee whether the decorations in the background will overpower couple shots, and insist on a few poses in order to do his job well.
It helps build a network of other people in the wedding industry if the photographer is able to coordinate well with them, often leading to better productivity and possible future collaborations. It also earns them brownie points from the client for making things easier for them.
Freelancing and Creativity
He gets to be his own master, choose his client as he wishes, and also exercise his creativity. Of course, that does not mean that he does not fulfill the expectations of the bride and does what he wants. He does whatever shots the bridal party would like, but can also suggest something if things are not looking good. Even if there is no boss to report to, the work has to be of top quality, as well as creative and different from others out there. He can go all out directing people for shots.
Great Career for a People Person
As a wedding photographer, one of the needs of the job is to be very communicative, cooperative, accommodating but assertive, and have an ability to please large number of people through your work and demeanor, all the time maintaining professionalism. Getting along well with others is a crucial requirement, since the photographer has to work closely not only with the bridal parties, but also venue in-charges, wedding planners, decoration supervisors, and literally any aspect to weddings.
Preventing disputes and smooth mediation means this is a person who is able to handle the pressure and still have a good time of it. No one likes a grumpy wedding photographer. So it’s a great way to meet new people and build a network of connections for future references through a friendly and approachable personality.
Experience Makes a Difference to the Outcome
When the wedding photographer knows what he’s doing and has a good sense of work, his input will be considered valuable. This depends on his portfolio, his level of participation in proceedings, and advice. The better he makes the experience for the bride, the easier it will be for him to get valuable poses and shots. His experience also counts because he provides advice in tough situations. The final product is a direct reflection of his involvement, guidance, and experience.
As a lighthearted extra, wedding food is one of the best pros of being a wedding photographer. One gets treated as a guest when it comes to food, but of course, with limited time on hand. And yes, not everyone feeds the photographers, but when they do, it’s a bonus, isn’t it?
Cons of Being a Wedding Photographer
The wedding photographer has to be prepared for all kinds of unforeseen weather and situations. Checking the weather becomes a habit. Adjusting to changes becomes natural and a part of the job. He sees it as nothing extraordinary, but also secretly worries about his equipment getting damaged in harsh weather.
Since the wedding photographer works mostly alone, he needs to learn how to maintain the practical aspects of his business, like working out finances, managing orders, determining charges, following up after the event, processing prints, looking for new work, advertising, and do basically everything that an overworked one man organization can do. Finding an accurate balance becomes difficult if not managed well, and creates backlogs, which are always a bad sign for clients.
Despite meeting so many people on a daily basis, freelance wedding photography is a solitary job that does not give one much time for casual interaction. Long hours of professional interaction does not do much to contribute as a networking strategy, unless it is in a team of people who regularly help the photographer out for major assignments, or the photographer regularly meets with the same catering teams on all weddings. Going out for drinks with colleagues after work is not an option.
Long Hours and Body Strain
Weddings last anywhere between 8 and 15 hours, some even longer. If the wedding photographer is a freelancer he will have to be prepared for unpredictably long hours with little or no breaks in between for fear of missing out. Lugging around gear and heavy equipment all day with hardly any help is another occupational hazard that puts immense strain on the body, leaving photographers feeling sore and tired the next few days.
Lots of mishaps happen while clicking away at work: clothes give out, equipment breaks or malfunctions, memory cards keep running out of space, the days are tiring and accidents happen. As a result, photographers leave home prepared with backups of backups. Clothes, meds, memory cards, backup cameras, lenses, weather protective equipment. They’re fully prepared for all work emergencies, since the work they’re doing is a very responsible job for a moment that will never return again.
High-end professional cameras are very expensive, but to do a good job at a wedding, a cameraman needs good paraphernalia, which is always expensive. He needs powerful lenses most of all, and needs a camera with the best features for versatility. Even then, such equipment tends to break in chaotic situations like weddings, and buying one again is a money drain and time-consuming. Buying a large number of memory cards is not very cheap either, so weddings are expensive affairs to document.
Investment and Experience Getting Started
The first few months are the most emotionally and financially draining in the profession of wedding photography. Getting started means making a lot of personal investments in expensive equipment, gaining experience through assisting, and developing a believable portfolio that will decide future orders. Wedding photographers need a lot of confidence and need to learn professionalism at the first go.
Miscommunication about the Type of Shots Wanted
Many times, communication between the couple and the photographer breaks down due to inadequate discussion or time. This leads to a disappointing experience, the result of which is not enjoyed when the bride later views her wedding photos. It’s easy for misunderstandings to arise if the photographer does not explicitly clear the air about what kind of work he specializes in, and the client simply assumes that the photographer will do a good job without specifying what kind of job is wanted.
Stigma Associated with Wedding Photography
Not many people know this, but in the world of photography, being a wedding photographer is not considered a serious job for a serious photographer. It is viewed as a semi-skilled job for photographers who are not the best. The stigma slowly fades only when someone realizes the amount of adaptability, strength, skills, and versatility that is needed for such a job.
Being Mistaken for the Help
Or treated like one! It is a common occurrence at weddings and receptions for the photographer to be secluded from the rest of the proceedings due to the nature of the job, but they get their fair share of people bossing them around or ordering them out of their way when they are just doing their job. Several clients sometimes forget that they are employing services, and not the person himself.
No Fixed Monthly Income and Job Instability
Weddings are seasonal. This means that out of season, the wedding photographer is out of a job. Earning enough in the wedding season is difficult with the limited number of places one can be at, which means the photographer has to plan his finances well-ahead of time and usually take up another job when the wedding season is out. There is the unpredictability that comes with freelancing, which means an unstable job with an irregular monthly income which changes with work demands.
This includes scouting venues for layout, wedding rehearsals, clearing memory cards, charging batteries, coordination with a second photographer, advertising for future contracts, number of people in the wedding, and management of other clients while developing previous clients’ work. There are several preparations to be made before and after the event. A shoddy job happens without any prep time, and that means the client can sue for photos unprofessionally clicked or missed out.
Therefore, a wedding photographer is more busy than most people think. He is one of the most crucial elements present during the entire wedding, and at times gets to “call the shots”. Though there are several things that may go wrong at a wedding from the photographer’s side or the client’s side, but the challenges and perks of being a wedding photographer are always worth it. A good photographer is always remembered by the client, because he makes their job easier and provides only good memories to be reminisced years down the line.