A Long Post About Why I Do What I Do
Truthfully I didn’t set out on a deliberate career path to become a wedding photographer. In fact if you’d asked me many years ago whether I would want to do this for a living I would have run a mile, saying that I wouldn’t want the responsibility, would find the day overwhelming and I tended to make images of landscapes and ‘things’, rather than people.
And many years ago I would have been right. I don’t think that I would have been great at doing the job back then. Over time though a person develops and grows, and now I believe I have the right set of skills and more, the enthusiasm, to make a good wedding photographer.
The first thing to develop of course was the photography. I’ve been making images in one way or another since I was very young, but on the whole they were scenic or had a static subject. That’s not to say that I didn’t take photographs of people, in fact my first ever paid job was at a small gig in Brighton, but I had the shyness of youth and didn’t really want to direct or interact with them.
As my technical and artistic abilities developed over time I eventually found myself doing a favour for a friend, taking images at a small club she hosted. I was taking photographs of performers initially, but this progressed into taking photographs of the audience and guests. I moved from working on subjects slowly and diligently to really understanding how to get good pictures in just a split second, and how to operate a flashgun properly. I also learnt how to be comfortable getting a person’s attention, along with a pose and a smile.
From there I started to dip my toe into the professional world with events, clubs and parties. I found that, as well as being very fulfilling, photography was socially rewarding as well and, to be frank, a lot of fun.
The final piece of the jigsaw was being employed as an assistant and ‘second shooter’ at weddings. Instead of being daunting I found it incredibly satisfying. Photographing people on a night out is good fun for everyone, but being an integral part of such an important day is immensely rewarding. I think nearly every wedding photographer’s website emphasises that they really enjoy weddings. I know some who think that this is just a cynical marketing ploy, but I don’t believe that you can be a good wedding photographer unless you love weddings. They are a challenge, but with planning, experience and skill they aren’t anything to be frightened of.
That’s the other reason I wouldn’t have been a great wedding photographer all that time ago. I hadn’t had the experience of planning and carrying out a piece of work, and I hadn’t been placed in positions of responsibility during moments of high pressure. I believe that you need the whole package to get good images during a wedding: creative flair; technical proficiency; the ability to both plan and adapt; to cope with a stressful situation; understanding of the customer/photographer relationship (see my blog post about customer service) and knowing how to interact successfully with people without bossing them around.
It is a lot to bring to bear and balance all at once, but I feel that wedding photography brings together nearly everything I’ve ever learnt (well, apart from some O level chemistry). That’s why I find it so rewarding and am happy to do it as my job.