Part 2: How to be a Wedding Photographer AND Keep your Friends!
In case you missed last week’s article, which set the scene for today’s article, take a minute to read it! Last week’s article included five crucial facts you need to know if you have friends who are wedding photographers but this week’s article will examine the other side of the coin and is geared towards photographers. So to all my dear wedding photographer friends, happy reading!
How to be a Wedding Photographer who still has Friends!
Trust me – I know how hard it can be! When your job takes you away from your friends and family on most weekends, keeping up your social commitments can seem next to impossible. Over the years, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me balance worklife with a social life.
Fact #1: Don’t mix business with pleasure
If you’re going to a party/reunion/bbq/bridal shower/bachelorette/etc, leave your camera at home! Unless you have been hired to be the official photographer of the day, you need to leave the gear at home. The minute you bring your camera to an event that you haven’t been asked to photograph, you’re setting a dangerous precedent! Your friends and family will think that it’s okay for them to ask in the future (and it’s not!) You’re there to enjoy yourself so keep the gear at home. (Oh, and the same goes for that smartphone of yours… leave it alone for a few hours!)
Fact #2: Stay organized & establish a workflow early on in your career
As Alton Brown says repeatedly in one of my favourite Food Network shows ever, “Organization will set you free!” When Alton says it, he’s referring to cooking, but when I say it, I’m referring to your workflow and time management. Staying organized helps to not only complete your tasks in an efficient manner, but it allows you to schedule ‘fun time’ into your week without any negative repercussions. Establishing your workflow and knowing how long it will generally take is also important. If you have no idea how much time it will take you to edit your photos and complete your other essential tasks (ie: creating galleries, a blog entry, social media sneak peeks, and backup copies) then you’re sure to fall behind in your work. If you fall behind, not only will you have no time to socialize, but you’ll also have angry clients!
Fact #3: Share your schedule
You don’t need to post your every movement and daily schedule on a blog, but if you know you have a free weekend in the near future, share this with your friends and family! Consider having all your friends and family over to your place so you can see everyone at once. This will show that you’re making the effort to keep your relationships strong and your friends and family will appreciate this.
Fact #4: Understand that your friends & family don’t know what a photographer’s life is like!
Unless your friends and family members are also photographers, there’s a good chance that they truly have no idea what the secret life of a wedding photographer is like. They don’t understand that our job consists not only of taking pictures but of editing them, meeting and communicating with new and current clients, designing albums, maintaining our blogs and social media accounts, networking, advertising and marketing, preparing files for print as well as continuing our education and learning new skills. The sooner you realize that your friends and family have no idea what it is you really do, you can move onto the next tip.
Fact #5: Educate the people you know and love! (Politely, of course!)
So your loved ones have no idea what it is you do… don’t just sit there and stew about it! Educate them! Share your thoughts and feelings about your hectic schedule with them. Give them insight into the secret life of a wedding photographer. It will help them understand why you are typically running around pulling out your own hair from April until November of each year!
Fact #6: Be willing to compromise
So you’re shooting a 14+ hour wedding on Saturday but your parents are having a BBQ that day. They’re disappointed that you can’t do because you’re working but they say that they are willing to move the entire event to Sunday if it means you can come. This is where you have to compromise a little bit. Yes, you’ll be exhausted, but if they are willing to move their entire event to another day to accommodate you, then you better show up with a smile on your face! It’s only fair.
Fact #7: Be blunt!
Depending on your personality, or on the person you’re having the conversation with, being blunt isn’t always appropriate so I suggest to use this tip with discretion. Personally, I don’t take this trick out of my bag unless someone is trying to guilt me into attending something or is attempting to make me feel bad about my absence from social events due to my work schedule.
There have been a few times in my recent past where I’ve had to put my foot down and say “I’m really sorry I missed [insert event here] and that I can’t go to [insert another event] next week either. My job takes me away on weekends and there’s nothing I can do about that. While you guys are out having fun, partying and enjoying your BBQ, I’m working in order to pay off my mortgage/student loan/grocery bills. I know you may see my job as an ‘inconvenience’ in social situations, but it’s my livelihood, the same way your Monday to Friday job is your livelihood, and I really wish you would respect that.”
Hopefully it won’t ever come to that – but if your friends and family are bold enough to try to pull a guilt trip on you, then I see no reason why you can’t be as bold right back at them!
Now that you’ve finished the last of my 2-week insightful series into the mystical and magical work of behind the scenes wedding photography, I hope you find that you’ve gained enough insight to maintain all your social relations come the next wedding season! Happy shooting!