It was four years ago that I stumbled my way in to shooting my cousins wedding. It was the usual story that a lot of full time wedding photographers would cringe at, that, as someone with no experience of shooting weddings, I shouldn’t even be entertaining the thought of attempting a wedding, even one that was for a family member, but I did. However, I did’t end up shooting that wedding alone as I roped in the very excellent photographer Scot Baston to help guide me through the day, and I’m glad he did. I thoroughly enjoyed it but was glad of the help.
After that shoot it took me another 4 or 5 months to pluck up the courage to make people aware that I was open to taking more weddings on. The imagery from that first wedding was wholly acceptable and some of that shoot still plays a part in my advertising portfolio, and proudly so, but there was still the mental block of self doubt and a distinct lack of confidence as I still believed that the age old “You’re good enough to be a pro” coming from the mouth of a friend or family member wasn’t reason enough to actually go ahead and do it.
At the time I know I will have had conversations with Scot, and indeed with another very good wedding photographer Shelly Lovegrove and between them and few nice words of encouragement from other togs I looked up to, I took that step to advertise my availability and as expected the response was very slow.
At that stage I had no reason to have any expectations over my photography ever becoming a business of any worth, with weeks between enquiries and months between bookings it would have been very easy to just pack it all in and leave it at that, but I stuck at it. I’d enjoyed my first wedding shoot and had eventually built the hunger to do it again and prove the first was no fluke. Finally the next wedding came in, it was shot, and was thankfully a success like the first.
I knew then that I wanted to do it yet again make it a success, though how much of a success I wasn’t sure. Did I want as my full time job, as a 50/50 with my then current business in Chauffeuring or would one wedding a month be enough? My thought process at that time was to under estimate what I wanted, setting no specific target, so as to create a self preservation mindset that would see no disappointment in only doing a small number but believing in the baby step routine that any step forward would be a good one. To be fair, in doing that and knowing that I could earn from the chauffeuring it meant I could keep the ball rolling, albeit slowly, and not have to worry.
It was this time last year that I faced a huge dilemma and for the first time my expectations on my photography business had to be analysed, questioned and realised. The licenses to do with my chauffeuring business, and the insurance was due all within 2 weeks of each other and I had to decide whether we needed the car business to get us through the coming winter months where the photography would go quiet.
As it was last year ended with 26 wedding shoots and at this point last year I had shot probably 17/18 of them and had 5/6 more to shoot with two end of year bookings still to arrive. My decision on whether the photography would be enough to see us through was a complete knife edge choice, I was so so close to believing it could sustain us and we’d be alright, but I had this nagging doubt it wouldn’t be enough and so I chickened out and paid for the licensing and insurance, a combined bill of about £1750.
You know whats coming next though, yeah, it was a waste of money. I shut the car business down in November last year as the bookings for the photography just continued to roll in. I was lucky enough to get a rebate from the insurance on the unused term of 9 months but as you’d expect there was no way of getting anything back from the council.
Just after Christmas 2014 I had reached 17 wedding bookings for 2015 and I hoped I could get up to that magical 26 weddings again for the whole year, that way I knew my choice to shut down the car business will have been justified. Roll forward the diary to mid January 2015 and in that 3 week period I took on a further 10 wedding bookings for the year, and since then I’ve been very lucky to have had a steady flow of more for this year, resulting in me taking my 42nd for the year just a couple of weeks back.
Right now I have done 25 of them, and the imagery you are seeing in this blog is one image from each of those weddings and my thanks go to each and every one of those 25 couples for giving me the privilege of shooting their big days. I’m truly humbled that this many people have trusted me to get them the imagery that they want, and the same goes for the 17 more couples I have left to capture on camera this year. I have no idea if this is a freak year, or whether this is the way its always likely to be, but it would probably be unwise of me to set a target of achieving the same again next year, hitting 30 would be ideal, any more than that would be a major bonus.
The one thing this big increase in work has done is to extend the amount of time I am editing, quite obviously really, and instead of having a 2/3/4 wedding long queue of edits, I’m currently about 9/10 behind, which wasn’t helped by a 3 shoots in one weekend a few weeks back, but I am working my way through it, though my workflow was brought to a juddering halt today when my youngest and most inquisitive son decided to investigate my Wacom tablet/pen and put them through his level of quality testing, unbeknownst to me, only for me to return to a broken tablet and obliterated pen. Very normally he wouldn’t get hold of these bits as they would be in the studio, but we’ve just had a few days away and as Daddy is so busy and behind he took his computer with him so he could edit by evening/night.
I’m now back up and running in the edit department thanks to Park Cameras as I now have the Intuos Pro Medium to replace my wrecked one, and I have just finished setting it up to run the way I want it to with Lightroom, Photoshop and Perfect Photo Suite. Not exactly what I had planned for the day but, well needs must and the editing has to go on, so the replacement was quickly sorted.
The one thing I can say is that I have no hard and fast method or ploy for how I have become so busy this year and got so many weddings booked. I guess a lot of it is down to having had previous couples that are very happy with what I have done for them on the day after by way of the images they’ve then received from me at a later date. I’m always astounded by how often I get told by the couple or their direct families, just as I go to leave at the end of the night, that I did a fantastic job, put a huge amount of effort in and that it was a pleasure to have me there…….yet at that point they’ve hardly seen an image that I shot on the day. It all adds up to telling me I did my job, not the imagery part as such, I kinda know I’ve got that in the bag, but in the way I’ve acted out my job in terms of being friendly, fun, professional, organised and on hand to help with any given situation to the best of my abilities to ensure the happy couple get a day to remember.
Well, I’d best get back to the editing, after all it won’t get itself done, and I’m not going to out-source it just to get it done. I would much rather be in full control of the edits so that the end results my couple get will be my own work and style, even if they have to wait just that little bit longer.
Many thanks for stopping by 🙂