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slabib
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Career shift?


Friends,

In the past month, I've noticed that there are things with the whole wedding photography world that are starting to wear on me. To the point where I've been pondering doing a career shift to do something else.

Allow me to expand on that. First of all, this is not my day job, which right of the bat makes me flexible. I fell in love with photography several years ago, and it is not just a hobby, it's a passion and an obsession. I got into weddings because I needed something more than just shooting for my own amusement. I think i saw it as kind of a milestone, that it was a goal for me to get my craft to a level where people would pay for my services. That to me was more important than the actual money I earned. Like I said, this is not my day job. I have been very successful thus far, and have not had an unhappy couple.

I thoroughly enjoy shooting weddings, and I sincerely feel that it is noble work. It's not lost on me that I create photographs for couples that their future generations will gaze at; family members who have never seen my clients will see the wedding photos that I've captured, and that's hugely rewarding to me.

But, there's a lot of baggage to carry, and hoops to jump through throughout the process. I hate the pimp-esque relationship with wedding wire/the knot that you have to have in order to get gigs. I hate the over extravagance that you find in most weddings. And while I'm part of it, I hate the how the wedding industry is a multi billion dollar sector that creates the expectation that you have to spend up the wazoo just to get married.

In my utopia, weddings are intimate affairs with close loved ones, in homes, open fields, that feel like backyard barbeques. There's no reason for the extravagance. Spending more on a wedding doesn't impute more worth (but this is the exact opposite notion that society and the wedding industry will have you believe).

This puts me at a moral crossroad. I'm not saying that photographers are overpaid, because it is a crap ton of work that needs to be done at a high level. But I have disdain for a wedding industry that I am part of.

I know I need something in photography that's more than just personal shooting to keep me fulfilled, and I don't think I can continue to reap fulfillment from weddings any longer. Suggestions for career shifts?




Sep 26, 2017 at 03:31 AM
joelconner
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Career shift?


It would be really hard to find joy in something for which you have a disdain. While there are certain aspects of the wedding industry that I dislike, on the whole I still freaking love it.

Perhaps you should try to build a brand that only focusses on the smaller, intimate weddings that you enjoy. You will get many fewer jobs....especially at first. But, if this is not your full time job and more something you want to do for the enjoyment, then it only makes sense to do only that which brings you joy.



Sep 26, 2017 at 03:51 AM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Career shift?


> In my utopia, weddings are intimate affairs with close loved ones, in homes, open fields, that feel like backyard barbeques.

You shoot what you show. Only put these on your site and price accordingly.



Sep 26, 2017 at 04:06 AM
glort
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Career shift?



I don't promote wedding work anymore, only do it by referral.
that alone seems to take away a lot of what I don't like about the industry especially the pathetic arse kissing you have to do on SM and trying to be noticed in a completely over saturated market.

With referals you don't get played off on price or inclusions, you give them your fee and they take it or leave it. Most times for me, they take it.

I'd suggest 2 things.
1. Re structure/ market yourself to address the weddings you really do want. No, you may not get a lot but then again, if you have a niche market and get known you could be a lot more busy or profitable than you are now.
You have a day job so you have the luxury of being able to test and expeiment and see what flies.

2. You say you are passionate about photography. If weddings are getting old, photograph something else.
I have done just about every sort of mainstram photography there is. Haven't done medical or scientific but that's about the main ones I can think of. Some people want to insist they are a This or that shooter and that's what they do.
I love going into new markets. It's all fresh and new and exciting and you always bring something with you from the last market you covered so you never start dead cold and you always have a slightly different twist on things. Many people go on about needing years of experience to be good at something. I say horse shit.

If a person has a brain and some real knowledge one can produce saleable pics right off the bat and improve from there. If you can't, one might be a slow learner or perhaps should be doing something different altogether.

Weddings are far from the only market, aside from landscape/ art work i'd say it's one of the toughest now. Having lunch with my accountant the other day he was saying no matter how much people that want to call themselves artist's would cry, once you are in an over saturated market you are a commodity at the mercy of the client whom will set the market value, not you.

There is a lot of other things out there and if you find a decent Niche market, you'll be happier than ever before.



Sep 26, 2017 at 06:30 AM
InSanE
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Career shift?


Still life should fit your bill.


Sep 26, 2017 at 09:34 AM
TheyCallMeJ
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Career shift?


Mixing your personal beliefs and moral obligations with business is a dangerous slope, no wonder why you are struggling. The outcome is that you are leaving wedding photography, something that you are passionate about initially, in pursuit of something else.

What's going to happen is that you will find yourself unsatisfied no matter where you go, whatever genre of photography (should you even bother staying in photography). This will continue to haunt you until you stop looking at things through your utopia and accept our world the way it is. By definition, utopia is imaginative so let it go.

You can shoot fashion then question why people spend tens of thousands of dollars on designer clothing. You shoot automotive then wonder why people spend fortunes on cars. Who are you, scratch that, who are we to judge how a bride splurge her money on her wedding day? Some do prefer hosting a family, private event at the backyard whereas some go for the most lavish, most extravagant possible experience. As a business, you simply cater to your target market.

If it's not already too late, I would recommend narrowing down your photography business to shoot only the weddings you resonate with. Strive to become the best backyard barbecue wedding shooter on this planet.

Otherwise, there's nothing wrong being a hobbyist and shoot whatever makes you happy. Just leave the money and business out of the equation.



Sep 26, 2017 at 01:57 PM
BSPhotog
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Career shift?


slabib wrote:
I thoroughly enjoy shooting weddings, and I sincerely feel that it is noble work. It's not lost on me that I create photographs for couples that their future generations will gaze at; family members who have never seen my clients will see the wedding photos that I've captured, and that's hugely rewarding to me.

But, there's a lot of baggage to carry, and hoops to jump through throughout the process. I hate the pimp-esque relationship with wedding wire/the knot that you have to have in order to get gigs. I hate the over extravagance that you find in most weddings.
...Show more


I agree, it is a little disgusting. I'll also side with others and say that a simple rebrand might actually be the thing to save you. Only show the stuff on your website and social media that you want to keep doing. Blog about the dope-ness of backyard weddings and elopements.

Another angle could be to take energy you spend searching for new clients and put that into staying connected with previous clients. Shoot their babies and dogs and whatever. Find your people and follow them. Weddings are a tough industry because generally your client is only your client one time.


TheyCallMeJ wrote:
Mixing your personal beliefs and moral obligations with business is a dangerous slope, no wonder why you are struggling. The outcome is that you are leaving wedding photography, something that you are passionate about initially, in pursuit of something else.


Truth. This atheist spends more weekends than he'd like in churches, but I recognize the difference. I'm not there for the magic, I'm there for my clients. Mixing ideals with business generally leads down a road that is unprofitable and unpleasant for everyone.



Sep 26, 2017 at 02:14 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Career shift?


I can relate to your sentiments. I had similar thoughts when I was a full time professional back in the film days.

The problem is that you have fixed expenses whether or not you're shooting a $1500 wedding or a $4500 wedding. Things like the amount of time at the wedding and in post processing isn't proportional to the differences in weddings. This may not be as important since you don't rely on it for your livelihood, but there has to be a point where the time expended isn't worth the return.

You could also look into expanding your portrait work and shoot lifestyle portraits instead of weddings. This could include Senior portraits, which can be both challenging and fun to shoot.



Sep 26, 2017 at 03:51 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Career shift?


Your question is a difficult one because you are trying to get your fulfilment from paid work but the paid work isn't your main job. What personal work do you do?

I really do not like the industry either. The 'rockstar' guys who just push products now, the tacky fad based trends, the way everyone copies everyone else and the whole WPPI circlejerk.

slabib wrote:
I hate the over extravagance that you find in most weddings. And while I'm part of it, I hate the how the wedding industry is a multi billion dollar sector that creates the expectation that you have to spend up the wazoo just to get married.

In my utopia, weddings are intimate affairs with close loved ones, in homes, open fields, that feel like backyard barbeques. There's no reason for the extravagance. Spending more on a wedding doesn't impute more worth (but this is the exact opposite notion that society and the wedding
industry will have you believe).


I am much the same. A lot of the extravagance and excess makes me feel a bit ill at times and when I see brides having meltdowns about some tiny detail or big stresses put on their relationship in the planning I have to wonder if they lost their way in what getting married should be about.

I just understand that this is what people want and know it wouldn't be my choice.



Sep 26, 2017 at 07:27 PM
glort
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Career shift?


Mark_L wrote:
The 'rockstar' guys who just push products now, the tacky fad based trends, the way everyone copies everyone else and the whole WPPI circlejerk.


Don't know what wppi circlejerk is but all the rest has been around for a long time.

Here going back to the 90's the rockstar shooters were a bunch of guys in the national professional Photographers association that largely only gave themselves awards or a few their drinking buddies they let in to the inner circle. They made hero's out of some real crap shooters while knocking back excellent work every time there was an awards competition going.

The fads were always there as well. Cross processed tranny film, half arsed B/W, every goddam picture at a diagonal angle, panoramic prints than made an album about 4 ft wide, Toyota Jumps and so it went.

Everyone has always made a big fuss about bing original and different but then the brides bring in a scrap book of other peoples work they have seen in bridal mags and ask you to do the same shots. I HAVE asked people why they want me to photograph their wedding when they have brought me 50 pics of another guys work they want me to copy?

One of my national awards was of a bride biting a grooms ear and them laughing. It was a real spur of the moment grab shot. I did a simple ad with that pic and 2 editions of the bridal mags later, there were no less than 5 other people promoting the EXACT same shot some even in the same location and had captions about how different and creative their work was.
Fking incredible!

And a long as I have been in this game, shooters have been the most poor and naive business people I have ever come across. Couldn't even guess how many times I have had other shooters ring me wasting my time pretending to be a client to get my prices and ways of doing things. Didn't take long to sus them out, guys ringing were the first clue as they are about 1 in 50 of real clients and I used to have some real fun with them.

I'd give them often laughable misinformation which they always fell for or answer their questions and then ask what they used and what they did or charged. Predictably they would be so caught up in things they would forget the pretext they rang you under of being a client and the morons would tell you. Then I'd say to them if they wanted to know what I did, have the balls and manners to make a time and come in and see me when I'm not Busy and I'd tell them everything they wanted to know, but don't treat me like an idiot and take me away from my clients and making my living by ringing me and playing games.

If I ever wanted to know something from someone, I'd have the decency to tell them who I was and if I could come talk to them. I quickly realised the ones that told you to piss off actually weren't much chop at all and the leaders in the game said sure and would make a time for you to come in and would give you help.


slabib wrote:
I hate the over extravagance that you find in most weddings. And while I'm part of it, I hate the how the wedding industry is a multi billion dollar sector that creates the expectation that you have to spend up the wazoo just to get married.


I don't think the industry is soley at fault for this.
So many girls want to make it a big thing to show off to family and friends. Even some cultures do the same and it's tradition. When I was doing Italian and greek weddings back in the late '80's, so often I would go to the home of a hard working honest man that may be something like a bus drive or a boiler maker but the money that was going to the daughters wedding would make a Doctor or a politician cringe. It was the traditional way to try and show friends and the rest of the family how well you were doing in life by outdoing other peoples kids weddings.

It wasn't and industry driven thing at all. There were plenty of far more basic but still very nice reception halls one could have a wedding for a fraction of the price of the over the top place I worked at but the fantasy place was booked out literally for 3 years. I never got my head round how people would wait to get married 3 years just to have that reception joint but they told me they had every single week.

The industry may be driven to ridiculousness now but I have to say, some of the most special, truly amazing weddings I have done have also been the cheapest. And smallest.
I did one in January this year for a Model I used to work with going back almost 20 years ago.
Backyard affair at the parents home, 16 guests, bloody brilliant. The love, sincerity, honesty, emotion and thought put into it was fantastic. They didn't do it because they were poor, they did it because it was what they wanted and didn't want all the BS.

The wedding I did maybe 20 years ago sailing up the harbour on a friends small yacht on a day that pissed down rain, had about 20 guest and the reception in a little Italian Pizza joint upstairs in the city. Awesome.
My cousins wedding in a 2 Bit country town where everyone in the place was so excited there was going to be a wedding and the couple were planning to stay in the town and most of the town was involved with it. They pained the local railway station because my cousin was a train nut and wanted pic there, Local church got a lick of paint and working b's to give it a once over witht he paint brush, they even brought the planned renovations of the only club in town forward 6 months for them.
All up cost was about $5K which was cheap as hell even back then.

These are the weddings I fondly remember. the ones at the most expensive places with the lobster and 12 course meals, Meh. What I remember about them is how fake and insincere everyone was, the women whispering and backstabbing one another over what the others were wearing when they all pretty much looked like tarts, the way everyone was so worried about being socially correct that no one had any fun, the stupid amounts the brides spent on dresses and how the majority of these marriages didn't even last 3 years. Some didn't even last till I could get the proofs back to them!

No doubt there is an over the top mentality with weddings, especially with what I see in the US but it's not ALL industry driven. IMHO for the main its catering to a market demand.
Those with a brain that don't want to follow the high priced sheeple routine can do that.
I did. Last thing we wanted was the manufactured slop on a plate that reception joints served so I had my reception at one of the citys better restaurants. they didn't do a lot of weddings but people could order off the menu and get what they wanted and the prices were very modest especially for what you got. Didn't have wedding cars, went to the car hire joint and hired some top of the line luxury cars and the groomsmen happily drove them. Did splurge on a horse and carriage because that was my wifes dream

You can have a very nice, elegant and classy wedding without spending a fortune, if that is what you are really wanting over putting on a show and a big act to try and elevate your social standing to your friends and family by going stupid.



Sep 26, 2017 at 10:57 PM
 

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ahaug
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Career shift?


Hummm ... maybe this is the difference between work and play. When you work, you can expect some unpleasantries. When you play, you want things to be the way that you want them. Sounds like this is more play for you and you can take it or leave it. Maybe decide if this is work or play. If its play, find a different sandbox.


Sep 27, 2017 at 12:59 PM
JacobsLadder
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Career shift?


I echo what Glort said. Some of my fave weddings were backyard weddings - so intimate and emotional. And these types of weddings are still out there in droves. Not everyone wants a huge production wedding. And I agree with pretty much what everyone has said already. Especially the part about marketing yourself towards the weddings and clients you want to shoot. This isn't your day job so you have the luxury of being extremely picky. One of the best things I learned in business (any business, as well as in life) is how to say 'no.' That word will serve you well. Best of luck!


Sep 27, 2017 at 01:14 PM
InSanE
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Career shift?


From my experience huge production = huge photography invoice



Sep 27, 2017 at 03:42 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Career shift?


slabib wrote:
Friends,

In the past month, I've noticed that there are things with the whole wedding photography world that are starting to wear on me. To the point where I've been pondering doing a career shift to do something else.

Allow me to expand on that. First of all, this is not my day job, which right of the bat makes me flexible. I fell in love with photography several years ago, and it is not just a hobby, it's a passion and an obsession. I got into weddings because I needed something more than just shooting for my own amusement.
...Show more

I kind of relate to what you are saying and going through. Photography can wear you down if you take assignments that you don't enjoy. Since this a side job for you, just take assignments you find fulfillment. Start re-branding your website to include all the intimate wedding you want to book.

I think what TheyCallMeJ said is true if you are treating wedding photography as a business. No matter what other career choice you decided, there is going to be something that irk you. You either learn to separate personal/moral belief to a side and compromises, or draw a line some where which will alienated some people and make your business suffered.




Sep 27, 2017 at 04:07 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Career shift?


This might crack open the discussion on why so many WP's exit after 3 years. Digital allows a rocket rise to professional status, then you get there and think, "meh".

10+ years ago, you could just move your career to another type of photography. In 2017, I honestly don't know what types of photography could support of family. They seem to be in short supply.



Sep 27, 2017 at 04:38 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Career shift?


LeeSimms wrote:
This might crack open the discussion on why so many WP's exit after 3 years. Digital allows a rocket rise to professional status, then you get there and think, "meh".

10+ years ago, you could just move your career to another type of photography. In 2017, I honestly don't know what types of photography could support of family. They seem to be in short supply.


I agree especially in CA/NY where the living standard is high compared to national average. It's going to be alot harder in the future to support a family with just photography income. There will always be the exceptions such as established photographer, but for majority of photographers, it's going to be tough.

I've seen alot of people doing wedding photography as a side job or transition to full time because it paid more than their main job/laid off. There are abundance of education out there on the web (free/paid) and affordable gears ($10K photography kits with strobes/lighting). While I value my time and won't undercut the competition, I've seen plenty of full-timers and weekend warriors whose business model is similar to Walmart/Target.



Sep 27, 2017 at 05:27 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Career shift?


LeeSimms wrote:
10+ years ago, you could just move your career to another type of photography. In 2017, I honestly don't know what types of photography could support of family. They seem to be in short supply.

I was the sole breadwinner and full time professional photographer back in the early '80's. I did a lot of industrial/commercial work with industries that had a local factory in my area. These included Proctor and Gamble, Keebler, Brown and Williamson, New York Life, YKK, J.M Huber (kaolin mine), etc. Few of them remain.

I changed careers because I didn't like the direction the industry was going. At the time, I had no idea how profoundly it would change. An average mom and pop studio back in the 50's/60's/70's probably wouldn't get rich, but if they had a little business sense and a little photographic talent they could make a decent living. I don't think that's the case anymore. I live near a mid-size Southern city and like similar cities across the country, the market is hyper-saturated.



Sep 27, 2017 at 05:46 PM
Mitch W
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Career shift?


dmacmillan wrote:
I was the sole breadwinner and full time professional photographer back in the early '80's. I did a lot of industrial/commercial work with industries that had a local factory in my area. These included Proctor and Gamble, Keebler, Brown and Williamson, New York Life, YKK, J.M Huber (kaolin mine), etc. Few of them remain.

I changed careers because I didn't like the direction the industry was going. At the time, I had no idea how profoundly it would change. An average mom and pop studio back in the 50's/60's/70's probably wouldn't get rich, but if they had a little business
...Show more

Based on my experience I believe finding your niche is more important than ever, because of the saturation you mention. Way easier said than done, of course. I'm in Los Angeles, and it is insane here. A niche within wedding photography would be a good step, a niche outside of wedding photography would be even better. Again, my opinion based on personal experience.



Sep 27, 2017 at 05:55 PM
Ghost
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Career shift?


Buddy...You lost that loving feeling.... And now it's gone gone gone woo woo yeah.

Time to bug out or crash and burn.



Oct 01, 2017 at 03:55 AM
ohsnaphappy
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Career shift?


In general, if you make it 3 years, you're pretty special. If you make it 5 years, you're extremely rare. But if you make it past 7 years you're a freak of nature. Very few make it past 7 years.

Giving up on wedding photography is completely normal. Happens to us all. There are very few wedding photographers over 50. This thing we call a career is a ticking clock, winding down. Just try to enjoy it.



Oct 03, 2017 at 06:54 AM
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