The must read wedding photography blog by professional wedding photographers
The views expressed by the Secret Wedding Photographer do not represent the views of Find a Wedding Photographer or our staff
Last week I had a Saturday off - unheard of in August in the good old days - and I went to a friends Birthday party in Prestwich. It was great to be out with my lovely wife at the weekend rather than waiting for the first dance to start in a green cast grim marquee in Cheshire. If ever I’m out on the weekend all I get is the same question, “ Not working?”. Then I’ll be introduced to someone I don’t know, and once they find out I’m a wedding photographer, they will invariably tell me they hated their wedding photographs - funny how you never meet anyone who actually liked their pictures. At this party, I met a recently married bride from London who told me a fascinating story which illustrates how even smart, smart couples can end up with some terrible wedding photos. Hopefully, this will serve as a cautionary tale for brides to be...
It's the end of the line for professional wedding photographers
So that’s it, after 20 years as a professional wedding photographer and having covered countless weddings across the North West and the UK, I’ve decided this will be my last summer shooting weddings. Bookings for next year are looking a bit thin, to say the least, and to tell you the truth the business has changed so much in the last three years that I just can’t be bothered anymore. The increasingly demanding clients, the exponential growth in the number of photographers competing for bookings and the subsequent rapid decrease in fees means it’s just not worth it to me anymore. I just don’t like weddings that much that I’m prepared to bend over backwards to stay in the game. Maybe I’m just getting too old for it!
Twenty years ago, pre-digital and pre-internet, photography was so different to today. I got my work mainly through reputation and a bit of advertising. I had a small high street shop in the local town, and pretty much anyone who was getting married would pop in to have a look at some albums. There were probably about 4 or 5 of us nearby with similar setups, and we all knew each other, and if we were already booked, we’d recommend each other. Wedding photography was the best-kept secret in the industry. Not as glamorous and exciting as some other areas of photography - but we all earned a great living and had a nice lifestyle. Other photographers wouldn’t touch a wedding with a barge pole. It was either seen as too dull or too complicated. We had assistants in those days, not ‘second shooters’, tripods, Hasselblads, film and light meters. Photographers spent their time taking photographs rather than blogging about how lovely weddings are!
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!