Taking the Plunge?
Normally I wouldn’t be hesitant to attempt something new, unless of course that something happens to be talking to a pretty girl. Trying something new in life usually involves joining a club, starting a gym membership, promising to set aside time each day to read or come up with ideas. They’re nothing huge, but they require that initial push and the dedication to carry them out. One of the biggest steps or adventures to embark on in life though is mirrored in the world of photography.
Every single person who
has been shooting consistently has taken pictures of their friends, family, and
random other things. They get the usual, “WOW! Your photos are amazing! You
should do this professionally!” So you say to yourself, “Okay, I’ll give this a
shot. I’ll try to make some money off of this and see what happens. Worse comes
to worse, I’ll still shoot for fun and occasionally get to add to the bank
account instead of shrinking it.” After a while, and some mediocre success, you
start getting the inevitable question:
“Do you shoot weddings?
Within the last two years I’ve been asked this question with increasing frequency. To each inquiry, my response has been, “No, sorry. I’ve never shot one before and I just don’t want the stress.” If you’ve read any of my previous blog entries, you know I prefer controlled, scheduled, and pre-conceived shoots. The harrowing blood pressure increase associated with weddings stems from two things: my hatred of failure and my Uncle.
Normal portrait shoots I can handle without fear of failure because the majority of my clients have the ability to re-do the shoot if I royally screw up or they just flat out hate the images. I haven’t run into this problem yet, but it’s part of my agreement. Certainly this comes from the fact that I’ve been doing portrait shoots for a little over a year now and have a solid grasp of it. I also know to nail the “safe” shots before doing the experimental ones. With weddings, you have one chance. That’s it. Miss it, and you’re screwed because weddings (hopefully) don’t get repeated. I’m pretty confident in my abilities, but what happens if I miss those ever so important few key shots? I would feel personally responsible and lose sleep over it.
My Uncle currently runs a company that hosts photographic workshops in two capacities: technical and field. These workshops are mostly aimed towards wildlife photographers, but the principles obviously apply to all niches. However, he started by doing THE weddings in the New York tri-state area - Fortune 500 family wealth type weddings. He was quickly tired of that gig and then worked for National Geographic before ending up where he is now: much happier. My Uncle hates event photography and has told me many stories, each accompanied with a warning, about getting into it. Needless to say, I had decided that though the money is great, the anxiety associated is too high. Or is it?
I was asked once again, just last night, if I would be willing to shoot the cousins’ wedding of a family friend. I gave my usual response and they were perfectly fine with it. Being family friends though, they asked me why. I told them the gist of it and while they understood, they also said they believed I’d be able to handle the situation easily. This family friend also happens to be the producer from that crazy Publicity Photos session I did in July. Her words were essentially, “You handled that mess incredibly well. You were poised, handled the stress and insanity of it, dealt with special personalities, and still managed to get excellent photos that the AJC editor thought were awesome.” (Don’t you hate it when you get support that makes you think you can do something?)
I’ve been debating this opportunity heavily since that conversation and the more I consider it, the more I’m leaning towards doing it. I’m certainly not limited by gear, and wildlife and sports are probably way more unpredictable than a wedding and I’m pretty good at shooting those. I’m also going to a wedding in two weekends and plan to stealthily stalk the photographer to watch what he does, thus learning a few tricks without harassing him. I can also ask my Uncle for advice (while probably receiving a repeat of those warnings as well).
I just emailed my family friend asking for more information about the wedding. Not with the certainty of taking the job, but just trying to better understand the variables. Though from the looks of things, I may be adding a new niche to my portfolio. Guess we’ll find out shortly...