On Sunday 12th August I photographed my last wedding. Not of the season, but forever.
When I tell people this they seem surprised. “But you love photography and you’re good at taking photos!”. I still love photography. That hasn’t changed because I don’t want to do wedding photography any longer.
There were a few factors that influenced my decision to stop photographing weddings. Some positive, some negative.
With Jack is growing! I used to sign up 10-12 customers a month. Now it takes about 10 days to hit that number.
I’ve had a few stressful instances of juggling mid-week weddings with insurance customers. I like to give my work 100% of my attention, commitment and focus. You can’t do that juggling two businesses. It’s also not fair on clients.
I’m retaining 87% of customers based on the first cycle of renewals. Thinking ahead to next year’s wedding season, I’d be going into my 3rd year of renewals plus signing up new customers.
Judging by current growth, I could be single-handedly managing 500+ customers by next year. Things would be trickier to juggle.
I used to enjoy photographing weddings. I’ve witnessed lots of beautiful moments and I’ve felt grateful being able to capture them for couples. For the most part I’ve had a great time.
However, that enjoyment has gradually been replaced with anxiety. I’ve been lucky to have only had a couple of difficult clients, but over the years I’ve found myself getting more stressed about wedding photography.
There are many factors that contribute to a good wedding (from a photographer’s perspective):
- Family dynamics
- Chemistry between the couple
- Weather (yes, I mean to mention this twice)
The frustrating thing is we control none of them.
Client Expectations Are Changing
I’ve also noticed client expectations changing, which I assume is down to social media. With Pinterest you get a snapshot into picture-perfect weddings. Some people use this platform to plan their entire day.
That’s OK, but when your mood board is a beach wedding with a Spanish sunset and alfresco dining, yet you’re marrying on the rainy banks of Loch Lomond… well, you might be disappointed.
Photographers can’t take what’s in front of us and make it look like what you saw on Pinterest, yet some people expect us to. I found those expectations crippling.
With Instagram, there’s the pressure for perfection. It’s not just weddings that are guilty of this, but life can become a bit like a series of curated photo opportunities.
I think many of us have forgotten what a wedding is about. It means different things to different people, but traditionally it was a celebration of bringing two families together. Now the meaning seems to be buried under the dress, flowers, favours, the cake…
The Last Supplier Standing
Sometimes the day doesn’t live up to couples’ expectations. They’ve spent years planning this and pouring over details meticulously. Weddings also don’t come cheap. Because of this there’s a lot of pressure on the day for it to go to plan.
Because the photographer is often the last supplier to still be in contact with the couple post-wedding, I think frustrations can sometimes be taken out on the photographer.
I’ve only ever experienced this on a couple of occassions, but it was really unpleasant.
Then there was the fact that—for the past 7 years—I’ve given up many weekends during the summer to photograph weddings. I’ve missed key moments in my friend’s lives. Baby showers, hen do’s, birthday celebrations. I even missed my friend’s wedding. That sucked.
I’m excited about getting my weekends back. I’m going to fill them with being creative, taking photos just for fun and seeing friends! I’m already scheming a photo project and have signed up to some CreativeLive classes.
Those are the reasons I decided to stop photographing weddings.
- With Jack is growing
- Wedding photographers have no control over the factors that affect our job
- The pressure of keeping up with client expectations is too much
- After doing this for 7 years, I need a rest
- It’s just really stressful
- I want my weekends back!
I’ve worked with amazing couples and witnessed a lot of special moments. Thank you to my past clients that involved me in their day. I’m humbled to have been a part of it, but now feels like the right time to say good bye to that part of my life.
Wedding photography gave me the financial platform to build With Jack. I used the money I earned from weddings to fund the design and development costs. Now the business is growing, I’m able to reinvest the profits from With Jack back into it.
It’s time to dedicate 100% of myself to creating the best online platform that helps keep freelancers in business.