In today’s world of photography businesses, we can often find ourselves with the “need” to expand our services. If our bread and butter are corporate portraits, we might wander into the family session arena. Or if we enjoy photographing corporate events, we might even start to photograph (gulp) weddings.
While this might mean more income, it won’t mean that you’ll be doing more of what you enjoy. Think about when you got into this business. Did you start photographing because you enjoyed it? Or just so you would make a paycheck?
The risk of experimenting
A few years ago, I started photographing weddings. For me it sounded like an easy adjustment going from corporate event to a wedding. I had captured corporate parties in the past, how were weddings any different?
I learned pretty quickly that weddings were a whole different ballgame.
You had to be quick to get the shot, and if you screwed up, there was no going back. You had to deal with personalities between families, and had to stick to a schedule so you could get the wedding party either back to the church on time, or to the reception on time.
Mind you, weddings are always running late. So that means your schedule is now cut a half hour, hour, two hours (yep, I had that happen) short. You have to think on your feet and be ready with alternatives.
I photographed about five weddings, mostly for friends. And I got what I think were some decent shots. Maybe I was on to something.
What happened next
I shared my wedding photographs on social media and even started a wedding gallery on my website. I started to get a couple of calls asking if I could photograph a wedding, as they had liked my work.
Because I was new at the wedding game, most of these calls were from brides who didn’t have much of a budget. I took on one of them and booked them out a year in advance.
As I shot three more weddings that year, I started to realize something. I didn’t enjoy photographing weddings. Even for my friends, who I loved celebrating with, I would rather party it up on the dance floor with them than flash them with my camera.
I immediately regretted taking on that wedding that I booked out for a year later. I decided then I would stop promoting wedding services, but would at least finish that one last wedding I committed to.
Have a focus, and share it
By dropping weddings from my line of services, I was able to go back to focusing on what I really enjoyed. For me, that was corporate events, portraits and food/drink photography. Weddings didn’t fit into this corporate world, and they certainly didn’t fit into my corporate mindset.
So I deleted most of my wedding work off of social media, and completely off my website. I replaced it with some of my favorite corporate work. And guess what? I started booking more and more corporate gigs.
Yes, we’re businesspeople. We have to go where the demand takes us. It’s what makes us money.
But we’re also creators. We have to enjoy what we’re doing. If we don’t, why are we in the photography industry in the first place?
It’s been over a year since I’ve been asked to photograph a wedding. And any time I am asked, I always have a list of referrals lined up.
Photograph what you enjoy, not what makes you money. If you enjoy it, and share it, the money will come soon enough. You’ll be doing what you love, and your work will be all the better for it.
For more on Photography Marketing, see my weekly column.
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