We asked over a hundred professional wedding photographers to give their reasons for going it alone, for their insight into how they find working in the industry and to ask whether they had any pointers for those thinking about following in their footsteps.
Here’s what they told us.
Perhaps aware of the risks involved – as getting it wrong can hurt both your wallet and your reputation – wedding photographers considered themselves to be a lot more experienced than general professional photographers. That said, only 44% thought they’d had enough practice before they started out. In fact, a quarter of professional photographers fell into the industry by accident, rather than it being a specific move away from other careers.
73% of wedding photographers absolutely love their job and a further 27% feel they have greater job satisfaction than friends in other careers.
Nearly a quarter reported that this enjoyment is because they like capturing special moments in people’s lives. Other reasons were more about the photographer’s personal enjoyment and included being creative, being their own boss, having a healthy work-life balance & flexibility, and meeting clients.
84% of wedding photographers would definitely recommend their career to others. Just 16% were on the fence or said no – perhaps due to the fact that weddings can be high stakes (you never know when that bridezilla might rear her head) and there’s lots of potential for things to wrong.
Happier taking the photographs than being the one in the limelight, the biggest challenge wedding photographers face is promoting themselves and their business.
General small-business red tape, such as dealing with those annual tax returns and other legislation was also considered a bit of a headache for this creative bunch.
And the third most challenging activity associated with running a business is setting prices and being commercial – too low and it’s not sustainable, too high and someone will come in with a cheaper quote.
Other issues included accounts, timekeeping, photography insurance, client disputes, getting a proper brief from a client and invoicing.
Weddings present a massive opportunity for photographers to shoot in a variety of styles and to really hone their creative abilities – possibly more so than corporate boardroom photography or something studio based. The whole wedding is your set and you could be switching between reportage, photojournalism, portrait, and everything in between. If you can handle that, have great people skills, are calm under pressure and are prepared to learn the business skills that allow an amateur photographer to take their passion and earn some money from it, you’re well on your way to a very happy and successful career as a wedding photographer.