Something I’ve been asked many times over the last few years is why I don’t use this podcast series to talk about the photography side of being a wedding photographer. So I wanted to take a moment to explain the reasoning behind my decision to focus on the business side of wedding photography instead.
A lot of emphases is put on technical aspects and stylistic ideas for wedding photography, as well as post-processing, to create a specific look. But if you’re not getting inquiries from potential clients, then you’re not going to be able to make a successful business out of it, no matter how great your photography skills are!
Many of my ideas about how to capture great wedding photos are also subjective - from the gear I choose to shoot with to my individual style. There are many different ways of doing things and no “right” or “wrong” way, so I don’t want to push my preferences onto others. It’s also tricky to describe technical aspects of photography in an audio podcast, without including lots of screenshots along the way.
In this podcast series, I really want to help other wedding photographers make a living from their passion and have the business skills to reach potential clients and secure bookings.
Something I’m often asked is why I don’t talk about actual photography on this podcast? How do I edit? How do I shoot this? Do I use Canon or Nikon? What are my thoughts on mirrorless cameras or drones?
It’s not that I don’t want to talk about them but it’s not at the top of my priority list. I really want to focus more on the business side, the marketing, and I want to make sure that we put our eggs in the most appropriate baskets. Addressing the question of: what do I have to do to book more weddings?
It’s all about helping you with your business. Whether it’s doing this part-time or maybe you want to do this full-time down the road. I want to make sure that you understand the foundation of running a successful wedding photography business. When it comes to talking about gear and tools, yes, that’s absolutely important but I just don’t want that to be the focus.
Are you a Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, digital or film shooter? Do you like primes or zooms? These are all great questions that I could dedicate whole episodes about. But at the end of the day, is that really going to help you meet your goal of booking more weddings?
I’m not saying you can pick up any camera gear and lens and just be able to book weddings. But are those things going to be the most impactful and influential in helping you build your business?
In addition, I’m not an expert on gear by any means. I’ve been using the same camera, the 5D Mark III, since 2012. Two of the same bodies. I do maintain them every single year. I replace the shutter and the mirror and make sure I get the sensors cleaned.
But once I’m happy with a set of gear, I’m going to use that until something better comes along. I look at the gear aspect of photography as being tools and a means to an end of making a living doing this.
Using the Canon 5D Mark IV as an example, if I’m going to upgrade both my camera bodies, it’s going to cost around $7,000 (even though my 5D Mark IIIs are in perfectly usable working order).
They’re not compromising the possibility of my furthering my business, getting more inquiries or making higher earnings. So I’d much rather invest that $7,000 in something else that is going to help build my business or just invest it in general.
If you feel like you aren’t booking weddings because of the gear you have, then absolutely, you want to upgrade that. You want to invest as much as you possibly can into quality gear. But I know for a lot of photographers out there, it’s not the gear that is preventing us from booking weddings.
Getting the best gear is not going to help you get more visits to your website, and more inquiries and bookings. It’s not going to directly help you make an earning doing this. Yes, you want to have the best gear that you can invest in. But I don’t think that’s the main reason why we’re not able to book weddings.
So this camera body has these settings and this many megapixels and you can have the ISO range here and the focusing is great. That’s all wonderful. You can read up on it, you can watch other videos on YouTube.
You can listen to podcasts that are much better at talking about gear than I possibly ever could. It’s not my strong point and it’s not going to directly lead to booking more weddings.
In addition to gear, there’s also the style side of photography. Are you more classic or vintage or lifestyle or editorial or modern? Are you more photojournalistic or more traditional? There’s a whole slew of words that we can use to describe our style of photography and I’m sure it’s a question that we get asked on a regular basis from prospective couples.
One of the reasons why I don’t want to talk about style is because there are so many different types and ways of describing it. There’s no such thing as a right or wrong style.
My definition of a great style is one that clients are willing to pay for. You can have the "worst" style in the world but it doesn’t matter if somebody’s hiring you for it.
However, if you’re not booking weddings...if you’re not even getting any inquiries, does it really matter what you call your style of photography? It’s nice to be different, unique, and really stand out but are you doing it for the right reasons? The ones that are going to help you meet your goals?
Maybe you want to be photographing more weddings that are a certain type of setting and you want the photos, the style, to really reflect that. That’s up for you to decide.
In addition to gear and style, there’s also the actual photo-taking side of things and the technical skills. How did you compose this photo? How did you light it? What settings did you use? What kind of directions did you give the clientele? How were you able to get that split second moment?
I feel like every image is made of three components - lighting, composition and mood/emotions of it. You want to have all three - the best composition, mood and lighting - to create a “home run” image.
Yes, it’s subjective. But with your style of photography, you know when you captured a “great” image. So why don’t I talk about it? With an audio podcast, it’s nearly impossible to be descriptive the images.
You might be driving, working out or busy in the kitchen as you’re listening and don’t have time to pull up Instagram and try to understand what I’m talking about. It would not be productive at all to describe something visually through an audio platform like this podcast.
Never mind just the photo skills. What about the photo editing side? What presets do I use in Lightroom? Do I color correct myself? These days I outsource to an amazing company that takes all that work off my plate.
What about Photoshop? Do I go into Photoshop to remove certain things such as a double chin or a few wrinkles? Remove this distracting “exit” sign in the background or somebody’s hand sticking out from behind the groom. What’s my workflow? Similarly, trying to explain that in an audio podcast would not be very productive.
Many of these aspects of wedding photography come down to personal choice and I don’t want to alienate a significant percentage of potential listeners by starting to talk just about Canon or the style of photography that I shoot. What if you’re a film shooter or into soft lighting and that doesn’t resonate with you?
It would be doing a huge injustice to everyone that’s listening and won’t help the cause, which is to help you book more weddings, make a living doing this, and have a successful wedding photography business.
But things like the style of photography and what gear to use...I just don’t want to go down that path and alienate potential listeners.
I like to think that if we want to run a successful business with wedding photography, we’ve got to focus on that. Business. As great as it is to have amazing gear and just love taking photos, if we’re focusing just on that and not on the business side of things, making sure you earn a profit every year, then you’re not going to be able to make a living doing this.
And I’m not just talking about gross earnings but actual profit after you account for all your expenses. What if you’re spending all the money on advertising or even gear and not making a net income? That's not a successful business.
But it’s not just about finances and it extends to more personal choices, like being able to photograph the types of weddings that you enjoy. You’re getting the clientele you can really connect with and you feel like your business is growing both professionally and personally. That really goes back to having a great understanding of the business side.
Whether it’s how you market your brand (or how you even create that and get it out there to your prospective audience) or how you go about networking with other wedding professionals and getting opportunities to second shoot and assist.
All of those things are more important than investing a lot of time into talking about equipment, style, and editing.
I want to make sure we run a successful business, and part of that is to make an earning doing this. Everything is really geared towards helping you with your business and booking weddings...making an actual living doing this.
Same thing when it comes to advertising, a website or a logo. If you’re going to be investing your time going to networking events, it’s going to have to show somewhere and from my perspective, this is through having a successful business. Being able to make a living doing so.
In due time, I may delve into some of these topics through other mediums, such as webinars or YouTube videos. So if you like my work and think it’s something you want to learn more about, stay tuned. It’s something that I am considering going forward but at the moment, with this podcast, I really want to focus more on the business side and helping you meet your goals.
I’m not trying to say that talking about actual photography is bad. If anything, it’s a great thing. It’s a huge part of why we love what we do as wedding photographers. We’re very passionate about the artistic side and finding out about how we can take the best photos possible and hone our editing skills. But it’s not where my priorities lie for this podcast.
There are other great podcasts out there that focus more on the actual photography - the gear, tools, and artistic side. But if you would like me to go a little more behind the scenes of my photography style and my vision, like how I go about taking photos and editing them, please do let me know.
Watch my FREE video explaining how I made $150k+ in the second year of my wedding photography business.