The word of the day is exhaustion.
I wish I had a quick and simple way of explaining to people how much work truly goes into starting a wedding photography business. The amount of time that goes into planning, researching, and developing the business side of things is insane. I recently was talking to someone about my business and they were shocked when I said that about 15% of what I do is actually taking photos at weddings. The majority of my time right now is going to branding / marketing. Building a cohesive brand that communicates the values I have as a photographer is no small feat. Even with my experience in web design, building a website that goes with the brand and is flexible enough to meet my needs is a ton of work. Blogging at least once a week, and keeping active on social media so potential clients can see I'm in business is so time consuming when you add in researching hashtags for the San Antonio wedding market. And then there is the gold mine of marketing - networking. Getting to know other wedding vendors locally and finding ways to connect with them and their client base. For someone as introverted as me this is a huge energy suck, but it is one of the best ways to get the perfect clients. If local wedding planners know me, know my business, and understand what I do for my clients then they can refer me to their clients that are looking for someone like me - makes everything so much easier.
The wedding photography industry has a large variety of different types of photographers, and one of the biggest mistakes I've seen other wedding photographers make is not communicating with their potential clients exactly what they do and how they work. Each wedding photographer is SOOOO different, you guys! The initial consultations that I do with my clients before booking them are the most important part of the process. It is SOOOO important to hire the right wedding photographer for you. Not the first photographer who seems reliable and is in your budget, but the right wedding photographer for you. So many of my clients have never worked with a professional photographer before and unless you're in the portrait photography business, you likely have no awareness of how everything works. You just know what you've seen on TV and in magazines.
I bring this up because so many consultations involve someone showing me a photo, or multiple photos, of what type of photography they like. Here is a very important wedding photography secret for you: when I photograph your wedding, the images will look like all my other work. You can show me another photographer's work all day long, but I'm not that photographer. I might be able to analyze their work and figure out how they do what they do, but that doesn't make me see the world, or a wedding, through their eyes. I only see what I see, and that is what I capture. What I use this kind of input from client's for is to tailor how I photograph to their needs. If you show me all pictures of a bride and groom taken in daylight then I know that we need to make sure your timeline allows for us to take portraits before sunset. If you show me images with dramatic or flat lighting then I'll take that into account when planning where we do your portraits. If you show me all tightly cropped portraits then I'll shoot fewer full-length, environmental portraits. At the end of the day, the images will look like my work - because they are my work.
Last night I was meeting with a potential portrait client and I was realizing while talking to her just how important it is to explain something as simple as "I'm not going to make you look like a supermodel. I'm going to get the beautiful you, your personality, that your boyfriend, friends and parents all love to show in the photos." I crave genuine emotions. I am obsessed with natural, real expressions. If you don't like your face shape, or like how you look when you're laughing then I'm not the best photographer for you. It's so harsh to say that, but the truth is I'm photographing you, and if you aren't happy with yourself there isn't much I can do to make you happy with how you look. I've photographed people who I've thought were beautiful and I was so happy with the images, but they weren't happy with how they looked and they'd say "it's not the photography, your photos are great, but I just don't like how I look." It breaks my heart, but that is the exact reason I don't buy into the whole "Photoshop me to look skinnier" thing. No. I will NOT contribute to the make-women-hate-their-bodies world that advertising photography has built.
Circling back to the whole exhaustion thing - I haven't had, or made, much time recently for me. The photos in the post are from recent-ish fun times just hanging out with my friends, not working at my 8 to 5 or working on my business. Sometimes I just need the reminder that this life is a journey, and I don't have to go 80 mph the whole way. I need to stop, walk around, smell the roses and appreciate life for the little moments. Not just for my sanity, but also for my art. The more of the little moments I live in my own life, the better I'll be able to capture them in someone else's.
Time to get back to work. I have album and product samples to order, need to follow up with my illustrator and calligrapher, and a stylized shoot to find a wedding dress for, a billion images to edit, social media posts to schedule, etc! Oh, and I'm planning a trip to LA in June, and I only let myself go out there if I can find an excuse to incorporate something to do with wedding photography into the trip. So I've got to figure that one out!
Have a great Monday everyone!