1. As wedding photographers we shoot say 40 times per year or however many weddings we have booked for that year. But where is the practice? Think of this in terms of professional sports people. They do not go out to play only on match days – they practice and train all the time. Why do we as photographers not do more? I know there are various regional groups who get together on a regular basis which is great but it is still not enough.
Surely we can improve our craft and accelerate our learning more by shooting as much as possible. Why not get a model or some friends and try out some new techniques. Practice your posing and off camera flash. Set yourself little mini projects to help you understand light or composition better. Look at people like David Beckstead for inspiration on finding shadows and reflections and get out there and do it.
Get together with a photographer friend and do it together. Every time I see someone shooting at a convention you can just see the creativity exploding out of them to try and get the best image. Do this and really push yourself forward or you can always be lazy and not do anything to progress in your career.
2. Business. I am hearing a lot of people saying that it is tough this year. I ask them what marketing they are doing and it is usually some adverts, SEO and the odd bridal show. Basically the same as everyone else is doing then that has seen a downturn in business. Those that are still busy seem to be more creative in there marketing and methods of finding new couples. What ways can you think of to get your name out there that are original and effective?
The problem is that as photographers we are “artists” and don’t seem to really care as much about the business side of things. Yet, without business we have no one to photography. Photographers seem to dislike reading or researching business which I find extraordinary. I am always reading business BLOGs and business books for ideas and inspiration and have found them to be invaluable. Why not spend as much time on your business as you do on the photography if you are struggling with bookings?
Of course the perfect outcome is to be able to practice on prospective couples. You just have to figure out a way to get them to call you so you can shoot them (giving you practice) and then them falling in love with your work so they book you for their wedding.
3. Perception. I learnt a few years ago that “I do not know what I do not know yet”. I started a thread on a well known forum with a multitude of images that I had recently shot at a wedding. I thought they were amazing and that I was gods gift. The images got heavily critisized and I fought the critics for months. The thing is though that they were right and I was wrong. I just did not know it as my perception on a great images was far removed from what actually makes a great image. I did not know what I did not know!
The long and short of the story is that I could not perceive what made a great image. To me now that means that the image has to be in fantastic light, have great composition, have finesse, elegance and grace whilst showing superb emotion and/or context. If a number of these come together then the chances are that you will have a great image. You just need to learn what all those individual components are in the first place to be able to see them from behind the camera.