Behind-the-Camera of Photojournalist Nic Coury in Monterey County, California.

February 20, 2011

The (Hard/Excruciating/Difficult/Demanding) Business of Wedding Photography


(The above image is purely for illustrative purposes only. That couple are good friends and amazing people, so this post has nothing to do with them at all.)

"Oh you're a photographer. That must be the best job ever."

Yeah, it really is, but what a lot of people don't get the behind-the-scenes part of it. Being a professional photographer is not just all pointing a nice camera and going *click*.

I'm fairly young, but I have learned a few things of the business of professional photography and it's not easily whatsoever. It's a very difficult and demanding profession. Don't get me wrong, I love shooting photos and playing with cool cameras for a living, but there is quite a bit more to it than that.

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Wedding Day - Images by Nic Coury

Recently, I had a potential wedding client drop out on me. We had talked off and on since last fall and the wedding is this June. A few weeks ago, I sent her a contract and a few days later she replied that her "good friend really wants to shoot my wedding." My thought: "She's doing it for stupid cheap or free, right?

Even though she loved my work and wanted me to shoot it, the bride gave me the standard "Well we're both students and paying for the wedding ourselves...", which is always nice a pretext to giving a couple a quote.

Unfortunately for my profession, there are a ton of "decent" photographers. By decent, I mean that a lot of people can take decent pictures. Also unfortunately that some of those "decent" photographers think that "decent" photos are all that are needed to become a professional. Don't believe me? Go ahead a google "bad wedding photo stories". There are way more than there should be.

I'm guessing not too many people are thinking "Oh, I'm pretty decent at making dinner, I'm going to be a wedding caterer in my free time" or "Oh, I'm pretty good at telling people how to plan a day, so I'm going to sell myself for way too cheap and be an event coordinator", but for some reason, couples also try to cut costs on wedding photographers and it can end up bad.

One of the free pieces of advice that I'll hand out is that when you are hired to shoot the most important day (or second if they have kids) for a couple, is that you don't want them to be worried whatsoever if you're doing the job they hired you for. Ever. The best thing a bride and groom can say is that they didn't notice where you were, but you turned out great photos that really showed off their day.

Another thing I tell people about my work is my professionalism. Trust me, pros make the same mistakes any amateur does, but we're just good at covering them up without anyone knowing. That is why I carry multiple cameras, lenses, batteries, memory cards and flash batteries. Redundancy and backing yourself up is key.

Please don't shoot weddings just because you can "take some nice pictures," and please don't hire anyone because you're trying to save a few bucks and you have a friend who can "take decent photos" and "really wants to shoot it." Another thing this does is completely undercut hard-working photographers who make their entire life with a camera.

These are photos you will hopefully cherish for a long, long time. Is it really worth it to ave a few hundred bucks on?

Rant done.

~ nic

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