When we’re coaching with photographers, quite often there’s this moment where they hang their heads. And stop making eye contact. It’s the moment when they tell us they want to be wedding photographers, but they’ve either never shot a wedding, or they’ve shot so few that they don’t feel like wedding photographers. They want to be specialists, and shoot weddings exclusively, but instead, they’re saying yes to whatever comes their way. They’re shooting family sessions, graduating seniors, newborns, headshots and birthday parties, and every once in a while, they might get a wedding too. And they tell us this bashfully. Because they’ve heard that specializing in wedding photography is really important. So they’re embarrassed. Not specializing exclusively in weddings makes them feel less than.
they’ve heard that specializing in wedding photography is really important
On a wedding day, we aren’t just interacting with our bride and groom. We’re part of the family for the day, which means we’re interacting with and photographing people of all ages. We’re photographing ring bearers barely old enough to walk, junior bridesmaids who barely have a driver’s license and grandparents who can barely believe their babies’ babies are getting married. Our years of shooting portraits for clients of all different ages helped give us the experience we needed to serve everyone well, and be able to do it quickly, effectively and on the fly.
Every time we photographed a couple during a portrait session, whether they were engaged or had been married for thirty years, we viewed it as an opportunity to hone in on our posing. Wedding days are fast-paced and unpredictable, but portrait sessions allow more time to think without all the pressure. We had time and safety to try new things there, which made us stronger photographers when the extra pressure of a wedding day arrived.
Before we got married, we read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, and committed to living our lives debt-free. That was (is and always will be) one of the greatest blessings of our marriage. We knew we wanted that principle to carry over into our business too, which meant we had to save up money to buy one lens at a time. We taught elementary school full-time and Jordan coached youth soccer at our church to earn extra money that we could put towards gear, and then used everything we made shooting portraits to purchase the lenses and flashes we needed to shoot a wedding well.
When you say yes to all kinds of jobs, you get put in all kinds of situations. Shooting portraits consistently helped train our eyes to find the best light anywhere we go. We’re so thankful for all the experience and confidence that was built during portrait sessions.
Shooting portraits introduced us to so many people we had never met before and expanded our network. Our portrait clients have been some of our best referral sources, and we’ve even had some portrait work evolve into future weddings! One of the most special moments for us this year was getting to photograph the wedding of one of our very first graduating senior portrait clients. It’s official. We’re getting old!
So if you’re out there today and you’ve been feeling discouraged about the type of work that’s coming your way, we hope this is just what you needed to hear! Keep shooting portraits proudly. Love and serve your clients well. The rest will take care of itself.
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