Editor’s note: This is a two-part series from award winning wedding photographer, Sam Stroud, who has been featured in various international publications. In this article, Sam is sharing advice on how he went from having 5 weddings in year one, to 88 weddings in year three. Read Part 1 of this series here.
The Industry is Not Your Friend
Some of you may read that and get an uneasy feeling. I am not saying, “Be the wedding photographer everyone hates.” Networking is an important part of being successful down the road. Yes, there people in this business who will pretend to love you and will suck you dry of all your energy, creativity and well-being. (Side note: Steer clear of those people. But you knew that already.). Maybe what I should say here instead is—Pit yourself against this entire industry. YOU are the reason you will succeed. You are the reason your bride will love her images. You must become the central focus on what the entire experience hinges on. You have the greatest weapon in creating and generating business and success: YOU. And nobody in this industry can recreate that.
Forget About You
I just got don’t telling you that YOU are the reason you will succeed. That’s true. There are a million photographers in your town, and who you are is what will create the most success in your business. And now I am telling you to forget about yourself. Am I crazy? Yes. But that has little to do with this last point.
I believe the most important part about what I do each weekend is not creating a great image, making people laugh or capturing a beautiful day of slideshow-worthy quality. For me and for us as a business, it’s about service. Each and every one of our Sam Stroud Photographers wants more than anything on that day to serve the bride and groom and elevate them above their own needs and sense of self. I think the allure of wedding photography, with so many different social mediums, is how quickly we can become known and admired by our peers. But self-service rarely lasts. In fact, from my own experience, people grow tired of it and, ultimately, brides see right through it.
Again, this isn’t the end all, be all of advice giving. This has been what has worked for us over the last four years. Our true north, or “the why” is to create an unbelievable experience. Becoming a great and talented photographer, for me, is secondary. Knowing my equipment and honing my craft are paramount, of course. I must show up prepared, and have the right tools and knowledge. But more than anything, my focus is on the bride and groom. Not on me, but on service. I want to elevate them above myself on the biggest day of their life. We can create beautiful images, but we must define the rules of our own success and then play that game. It’s the only way you will ever truly count it a win.
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