Wedding photography is the holy grail of many professional photographers. It’s a steady stream of income, and if you can get recommendations from happy clients, it can be a great way of making money from the hobby you love. On the other hand, it can be a highly stressful way to make a living. You constantly have to introduce yourself to new clients, and understand exactly what they want very quickly (for obvious reasons, repeat business is rare, and tends to come several decades after the initial commission). Above all, of course, the big pressure on a wedding photographer comes from the fact that you only have one chance to get things right. If you mess up the all important bride and groom shots, you won’t get a second chance to get it right, and your reputation in the wedding sector will fall apart very quickly.
So what’s the secret to being a good wedding photographer? Many will tell you that it’s less about the equipment you have, and all the professional photography techniques you have, than it is about people skills. People want natural and happy looking photos from their wedding day. Unfortunately, as well as being the happiest day of their life, a wedding is one of the most stressful days of many people’s lives. A good wedding photographer needs to strike the right balance between being assertive enough to get a good photo, and relaxed enough to allow people to smile, look their best, and get the types of photos that they want to remember their special day by.
Of course, while a photographer will generally meet the bride and groom before the wedding, there are all sorts of other people who will only be there on the day and, with alcohol flowing, the pressure is generally on to get the posed photos done as early in the reception as possible (before alcohol takes over, anyway!). It’s important that the wedding photographer knows who is in what group, and what combinations are required when photo time comes around. There’s no opportunity to re-stage the photo later on if it turns out you left out the bride’s parents. Fortunately, digital photography now at least, means that the wedding photographer can check their shots as they go along. Back in the pre-digital days, the photographer had to wait until they were back in the darkroom before they could double check what they had actually photographed.
The weather can also play havoc, particularly with the increasing popularity of outdoor venues. This means that the ideal moment to take a photo (when the sun finally bursts through the clouds) may come at the one moment where the last thing that everyone wants to do is gather into a group and smile for the camera. Again, this is where the people skills of the photographer are vital. Gently convincing people to do what you want is not easy on such a busy and stressful occasion. The professional wedding photographer who can do this, will have a solid career ahead.