If you ask most wedding photographers who they are shooting for, they will undoubtedly respond, “The client, of course.” If that is your mindset, I hope you take the next few minutes to read this post and allow me to change the way you think about wedding photography.
When you press the shutter are you thinking about making the client happy, or are you thinking about making yourself happy? Are you thinking about creating an image the client will love, or that you will love? All to often we photographers are not thinking about ourselves when we press that shutter at a wedding. If all you think about is the client you are not only doing yourself a great disservice, but also your clients as well. Eventually, only thinking about how a client will react will leave you stagnant as an artist. It leads to feeling “burnt out” and hampers your creativity. And if you are not feeling creative you are not doing you best work for the client.
My Ten Image Challenge
Here is my challenge to you. Start photographing at weddings without any regard whatsoever to how your client will react to the images. But this is very important start small. I cannot emphasize that enough. Don’t go into your next wedding and decide to shoot images that look nothing like what you have shown the clients in your portfolio. Instead, set a small goal. Tell yourself a head of time that you are going to shoot ten images just for you. Don’t be afraid to take risks or have an image not work out. That being said, take risks at the appropriate times. Get the safe shots first. If you just took 25 nicely posed photos of the couple, you have the safe images that they probably want. This is a good time to have them do something completely different. Look for down times at the reception while people are eating, while people are getting ready before hand, during the dancing late in the evening, to step out of your comfort zone and do something new. At your next wedding try shooting 15 images that are just for you.
Once you have the safe shots for your couple, you can have the freedom to play. When you do that, you might surprise yourself and come back with images that blow their minds. Also, when you shoot for yourself, you will be developing your own style along the way. As you go, slip more of “your” images into your portfolio and website. Start displaying the work you want to do instead of the work clients have expected you to do.
Something Amazing Will Happen
When you start filling your portfolio with your personal work from weddings, something amazing will happen. Your personal style will really show through to potential clients. When it does, they will be calling you not because they need any photographer to capture their day, but because they want you to photograph their wedding. You personally. When all you do is try to show what you think clients want, you are a commodity. You are just another wedding photographer, and all a potential client will want to know is your price. When you put more of yourself out there in your images, you are selling your unique vision. Your vision is only yours, and it is not a commodity. It is something unique.
I created all of the photos below for myself, not my clients. I did each one of them to make me happy. Some of the images worked, and some did not. Some were big hits with the clients, and some were not. But the point is I created images that were unique to what interested me.