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The views expressed by the Secret Wedding Photographer do not represent the views of Find a Wedding Photographer or our staff
Documentary wedding photography is chasing me around the internet at the moment. No sooner do I leave one photography forum on Facebook because of a tedious argument than it turns up on another. You can’t escape it. The ‘Real’ documentary photographers get their lens caps in a twist over this one.
The issue usually starts with someone posting a link to a photographer’s website because they have used to term ‘documentary wedding photography’ but have featured images of people LOOKING at the camera. This is currently the biggest crime in the photography world. It used to be vintage post-production, but that seems to have disappeared now. Thank God.
These Facebook rows turn ugly for a straightforward reason - documentary wedding photographers are so precious about their ‘Art’, and anybody who uses the word ‘documentary’ in their marketing has to play by the rules or the self-appointed guardians of the term are quick to step in and proclaim their indignation. It can be brutal. I'm not sure when the Documentary Wedding Photography Police first appeared but they are everywhere and you'd better not mess with them.
People often ask me ‘What do wedding photographers do during the week?’ And I’ll roll out my stock answer, ‘ There is an awful amount of work to be done before and after any wedding - planning, post-production, album design blah blah blah’. The reality is we spend most of the week on Facebook moaning about the business. There are countless secret groups devoted to wedding photography on social media. Referral groups, networking groups but mainly whining groups. Bookings are now so thin on the ground for many photographers that complaining has become the default state for those in the wedding industry.
It's not all doom and gloom though. On one of the groups, I’m a member of, a couple of London based photographers have been waxing lyrical about a current boom they are experiencing. According to them, business has never been better - so good that one of them can even afford to switch to the new ‘must-have' camera system - the Sony A9. He must be raking it in!
Best Wedding Photographers in the UK with the deepest pockets
Barely a week goes by without a new Top 100 UK Wedding Photographers list being published somewhere online, swiftly followed by a flurry of Facebook posts by eager snappers keen to point out to their armies of obsequious followers that ‘Hey - I’m proud to be included on this amazing list of awesome wedding photographers’. Well done dude! Awesome - you so deserve that!
All these lists of the Best Wedding Photographers Ever have one thing in common - actually two things in common. The first thing is that I’m never included. This is surely an oversight on the part of the impartial, objective list compilers - I mean have they seen my work! Are they aware of my reputation and the groaning shelf of wedding industry awards! Obviously not or surely I would have made at least one of the lists by now. I’m certainly the best photographer in my neighbourhood and I should make the list. Shouldn’t I?
There are numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the death of professional wedding photography or the exponential race to the bottom as it’s known in the office. I’ve mentioned a few reasons for the decline here on the Secret Wedding Photographer blog, such as free engagement shoots. Some will claim that the big camera manufacturers don’t care about us pros and much in the same way that Apple virtually ditched development of professional workstations and support for professional applications (farewell Aperture) the big camera companies are now focused on making photography easier and cheaper for consumers. Let's leave for another post!
There is another far sinister factor - the Second Shooter, lurking in the background. I’m old enough to remember life before the second shooter. The days of a now mythical creature - the photographers assistant. A useful beast who knew his place. I even employed one once who didn't want to be a photographer. He liked assisting. Having an assistant is great. They carry your bags. Make sure everything is working. Move lights around and hold reflectors. They were a fantastic thing. Unfortunately, they are rarely seen now. Commercially no one will pay for them. They have been made extinct by the birth of the second shooter. Another disastrous idea for the wedding photography business.