Everyone starts somewhere
There comes a time in your career when you get so comfortable that you forget how you got to where you are now. I am still amazed that I am a wedding photographer. If you would have asked me 6 years ago if I would be doing this I don’t even think I would have given it a second thought. In fact, I always remember looking at wedding photographers as being crazy. I mean, the pressure alone of handling a full day of shooting, knowing what to shoot, how to shoot and many other factors that make up the wedding day. At the very least, I envisioned myself maybe photographing landscapes or random objects for fun, certainly nothing I would eventually get paid for. Well, I still shoot the occasional landscape, and in my spare time I do shoot a lot of random stuff for fun. My main profession though, is that of a wedding and portrait photographer. So, how did I get there? What did I learn along the way? Read on to find out.
Let me start by saying that I am only about 5 years into this. I consider myself a professional because I do get paid for what I do, and I also think I am quite good at it. With that being said, I still have a lot to learn, and I am anxious to continue to do so. The minute you think you know everything is the minute you stop evolving. There is always something new to pick up along the way.
If you don't enjoy it, move on
My initial intention was to actually photograph real estate, or at least that is what got to buy my first real DSLR camera. I quickly realized that there just wasn't a market for it where I lived and I didn’t really enjoy it anyways. Then one weekend I brought my camera to a friends wedding and took some photos from afar. They turned out pretty good and I posted some of them on my portfolio. I noticed I was starting to get some compliments on the photos so I figured I would advertise my services and let the dice roll as they may. Next thing I knew I had an older couple interested in hiring me to document their small backyard wedding. I agreed to do it, hesitantly at first.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have confidence in my ability, it was just that I had never done this before. The pressure of being responsible for a once in a lifetime event is nerve wracking. The good news was that they were very easy going and they only really needed me for about one and half hours.
Why do you do it?
Instead of panicking I continued to read and learn as much as I could before the big day. I went out and took tons of photos. As the wedding got closer I envisioned the whole day in my head and planned accordingly. But I new a lot of it would still be spontaneous and spur of the moment. After all, I couldn’t possibly predict everything that could and would happen.
I soon learned that as the wedding began it was the unknown and unpredictability of a wedding that I loved most. It's great to have a plan and know what kind of photos you plan on capturing but it is equally integral to be able to adapt to the moment. This is how I have continued to find those unique and genuine opportunities. This is also why I really do love photographing weddings. There are always the posed photos when doing portraits but it is the rest of the wedding where you simply have to react, that I love most.
Always evolve and learn
Fast forward to present day, I have continued to learn and practice and absorb any piece of information and advice that comes my way. Along the way I have honed my skills, improved my workflow and also leaned to be much more patient when taking photos. The fact is, everyone has to start somewhere. You may not go in thinking you are going to focus on a certain discipline but you just never know where you might end up. In the end, you just have to make sure you enjoy what you do. If you don’t, make changes along the way to ensure you get to that point.