Today’s post is all about the pros and cons of being a wedding photographer! This post is a great tool to asses if wedding photography is for you! Let’s dive in!
PRO #1 – It’s seasonal
This is an interesting one because it’s both a pro and a con as you will see! The seasonality of this job is fantastic! We love that we get to take a break part of the year, and wedding photography is a job that is very similar to teaching! Pretty much 90% of our income comes in 6 months out of the year! Let’s just say that during those 6 months we feel good! Cash is flowing and you can’t believe how high your bank account can rise. Then comes winter ha! All summer and fall we gather all this income so that we can be prepared for the offseason!
If this is done well, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about when it comes to the slower months! A lot of people are afraid of having an “off-season” but that could be because they aren’t as disciplined with their money as you have to be to have this job! In our situation, we really have to be careful because this is both of our full-time jobs! There isn’t a safety net in our case but in most cases that won’t be the case for you! We love every bit of our off-season because we plan for it! So if you plan for it, you can have a relaxing season of your life where you get to hang out with family and friends more often! I’ll get into the cons of this same topic down below!
PRO #2 – It can pay well
As you know, weddings can be expensive! We have shot weddings that easily cost over 100k to put on! Part of the reason weddings are so expensive is because wedding photographers are expensive as well! How much a photographer charges usually differs based on experience, location, and guts. I say guts because some photographers who have the experience in the right location may be too afraid to charge more! I decided to title this section, ” It can pay well” but that doesn’t mean it will when you start off! Just like any business, it takes time to build a market and to build demand for your product!
As you start to grow you can expect to charge anywhere from 3k – 15k per wedding. Again, this all depends on your brand and your location! Don’t expect to get 15k for a wedding in small-town, USA! A lot of people will try to tell you that you can’t make any money being a wedding photographer and that’s a total lie. You can make money doing just about anything if you are passionate about it and you learn how to run a successful business! The easiest way to grow a business is to serve people so well, they can’t help but go and tell their friends about you!
PRO #3 – You get to meet new people all the time
This job is an extrovert’s dream! You are always meeting new people all the time during the busy season! If you are introvert, don’t count yourself out! Caitlin would consider herself a learned extrovert! She still considers herself an introvert but when she’s on the job she has learned to be confident and extroverted! During our busy season, we are always meeting new young couples and lots of different people on wedding days! This job is a perfect way to help get you out of your box half the year and let you crawl back into your introverted skin for the other half of the year! It’s the best of both worlds in our eyes!
PRO #4 – Travel on the dime of your business
Some photographers are destination photographers and love it! That’s not our passion at all! We love that we can book half of our weddings 5 minutes from our house, but that doesn’t mean we won’t’ travel! We will travel up to 6 hours away for a wedding! If you do like to travel you can see the world and it can be a tax deduction for your business! Make sure to refer to the IRS’s website or ask your CPA for any specific questions on what is considered a tax deduction. If you do have a wedding or another session scheduled before you leave, you are able to deduct your travel and half your food while you are there! Again, check with your CPA before you go scheduling that trip to Paris! 🙂
PRO #5 – Perfect schedule for kids
If you have a spouse that works, this job is perfect for you! The time that you are spending shooting is generally going to only be nights and weekends! That being said, you shouldn’t have to have a babysitter for your kids unless both you and your spouse are busy! You can be home working and taking care of the kids during the week and your spouse can be home on the weekends while you are out! So if you are looking for a way around daycare and you can make money doing it, why not? This schedule is still good for husband and wife wedding photography teams but weekends can get a bit complicated! Still not something to hold you back!
CON #1 – It’s seasonal
Let’s dive into why this is a con as well as a pro! Seasonal income is not for everyone! If you don’t like seeing the green line go up all year round, this may not be the job for you! You can invest in a studio or education photographers during the winter months for extra income so there are ways around the seasonal income! During the busy season, a lot of your weekends are taken up with work so you’ll miss a lot! Specifically, family weddings, birthday parties, cookouts with friends, etc!
During the off-season, the weather is generally going to be crappy so you may not want to be outside so you end up giving up the best weather of the year for this job! I bet this might be starting to cause hesitation in you! We totally get it! Our goal is for you to make the best decision before you take the leap! We shoot around 20 weddings a year but if you wanted to do this on the side you could do 5-10. That means 1-2 weddings a month! You won’t miss much with that schedule! Lastly, make sure to schedule a vacation as far in advance as you can! If you don’t your schedule will fill up and you’ll be limited on whether or not you can even take a vacation! We are speaking from experience here!!
CON #2 – Expect lots of nights and weekends away
This is a no brainer! As you start to get busier, you’re going to have to shoot more! When you shoot more, more of your nights and weekends will be taken up by your job! As the owner of a service business, the only way to grow your business is shoot more, charge more, or hire! All have pros and cons so there isn’t a right answer! Just know that weddings will take up a lot of your weekends, and engagement sessions have the potential to take up a lot of your nights! The way we go about this is to charge more and take on fewer clients while delivering a killer service that is worth that price! Your solution may be similar or it may not! Either way, just know what to expect!
CON #3 – It’s hard on your body
Wedding days can be hard on your body! Because of bad posture and carrying heavy loads all the time, Luke started to have lower back pain! Thankfully with stretching and seeing a chiropractor we were able to nip that in the bud! On a wedding day, you will most likely have 2 camera’s on you at all times. It ends up being around 10-15lbs on your back! Which doesn’t seem that bad until hour 8,9,10,11, and 12!
Along with that you will be dragging/carrying the remainder of the gear you need into the reception and ceremony spaces! You are also on your feet 8+ hours a day so it can be very similar to healthcare! Get around this by staying fit and stretching! Every job is going to cause issues with your body, whether that’s mentally or physically so don’t let that hold you back! This can be a very rewarding career!
CON #4 – Can be stressful and full of pressure
Stress runs rampant in our culture today. If you aren’t stressed right now, just get to the next con on my list and then let me know what you’re feeling! Wedding days can be relaxed and very comfortable but they can also be stressful and fast-paced! We run each day very similar but not every bride purchases the same amount of time plus you are working with different vendors every single weekend in most cases! The best thing to do is create a timeline so that you control the day as much as possible but understand that things happen. Some things that can affect your day are family being late, weather, food being served late, or last-minute reception additions. All of these things can cause a change in your timeline and can cause you to be stressed!
The first thing to remember is that it’s someone’s wedding day and the last thing you want to do is be stressed on your wedding day! So, that means that we as photographers need to learn to handle the situation! We are like the wedding bouncers in a sense…ok not really but it sounded cool! Bring a competent second shooter so if it does rain you are both able to shoot bridal party at the same time to shave off time! Build-in extra time before the ceremony so there is a buffer just in case!
Things like this can help with stress on a wedding day! As for pressure, you really only have to get 1 shot the whole day! The first kiss is really the only shot that couldn’t be recreated if the worst case happened! Make sure you always have multiple people shooting the first kiss so that there is always a shot of that when it happens!
CON #5 – Health Insurance is on you
Health insurance is on me? Ouch! That’s tough to hear and as I’m reading this at my cozy job with amazing benefits, it might be tempting to just say no right now! Let me tell you why we think this shouldn’t be the reason you say no! There are awesome programs set up for self-employed people! We currently use Christian Medishare which is a cost-sharing program! That is probably the cheapest option but there are also affordable options out there they may work better for you! Check this blog post written by Dave Ramsey!