In this video, I want to dispel myths misconceptions to help set the right expectations when it comes to wedding photography. I have seven pieces of guidance, the advice I wish I were told to me as a budding wedding photographer joining the industry a little bit more than 10 years ago. Now, over the past 10 years, I have gained enough wisdom to speak simply, boldly, plainly, and have even created courses designed to help you learn from our mistakes early on in hopes of circumventing these challenges in your own journey.
Myth: “The Bigger the Watermark the Better”
Watermarks have their benefits for wedding photographers, there is no doubt about that. In an industry such as ours that is largely based on social media advertising and marketing, I can understand the desire to want to make your watermarks seen. My advice is to make them inconspicuous by putting them in the bottom left or right corner of your images. The mistake I see a lot of photographers making is that they create these gigantic watermarks and they plaster it all over their images because they’re worried about their images being stolen.
Let’s think on this for just a second – you’re entering the wedding photography space and it’s likely that you’re creating a passable product, meaning, there are clients out there willing to pay you for this product but the types of images that you’re creating aren’t really the types of images that people necessarily want to steal. These gigantic watermarks all over the image will only cause one thing: a lower end experience for the client and therefore a lower view of your work. It also makes it unlikely that clients and vendors will actually share it because they are self-serving to me as a photographer and not to the client that paid for it or the vendors that collaborated to make it happen.
Myth: “My Images Were Stolen! Must Take Legal Action!”
Scenario: your images just got stolen. another wedding photographer has taken your images and used them on their own website to market their product. Okay, first of all, breathe, you’re going to get through this. Your blood must be boiling. Generally, the people that are going to steal your photographs and market their product with your photos are going to be fly-by-night photographers who just want to skip all the hard work and go to trying to con people out of their hard-earned money. What you should do instead of lashing out is send them a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice and then quietly move on with your life. You could waste the time, resource, and money to go out and hire a lawyer to go after these people, but the problem is even when your lawyer gets a hold of them (if they even choose to respond) they likely won’t have the money to pay damages so now you’ve spent your own effort and resources and get nothing in return.
Myth: “Wedding Vendors Shouldn’t Get My Photos for Free”
First and foremost, I would encourage each of you to drop the ego. I understand you’re a photographer, you’re an artist, you’re going into a wedding day and you’re creating a really cool product and that’s great! However, let’s remind ourselves that we as documentarians of this event are simply riding the coattails of every other vendor that put their time and effort into this final product (venues, florists, dj’s, lighting, planning, dress designers, etc.). This is the simplest way to become a preferred vendor and oftentimes people’s egos get the best of them and that coveted spot falls through. You’re also going to find it hard to make any vendor friends if your expectation is to ask these vendors to license your photography, which in the long run, these relationships you build, especially at the beginning of your career, could give you opportunities you weren’t able to achieve on your own. Not to mention, the number of social presence popular vendors have could bring your brand to new heights.
Myth: “Everyone’s Making Money Doing _______, I’ll Just Do it Too”
I like to call this: ‘money trend FOMO’. For those of you that aren’t hip to the millennial lingo, FOMO is the fear of missing out, and in this case, it’s seeing other photographers that turn into educators and sell out. Too often I see wedding photographers do well and establish their business, who create a six-figure businesses (especially the ones that come through our business training systems) and then their peers and people in the industry sway their attention and focus on other areas. They see peers become successful doing any of the following things: selling workshops, presets, getting sponsorships, doing speaking engagements, so they think that’s the next best thing for them to do. You will always make more money you will always be more successful by focusing on the task at hand by focusing on what you do best. You have to fight back against that constant FOMO that comes with the territory of our industry.
Myth: “Social Media Success = Real Success”
It’s high time we accept that social media is not real life. Take Instagram for example. we take one percent of our lives and post it there as if that’s our entire lives. It’s one of the easiest ways to fall into the money trend FOMO we discussed above but we need to remember… it’s not real. Let’s say you’re at a place where you’re considering sponsorships, let me first dispel the myth that here’s not big money in getting sponsored by other photography companies especially when it comes to the smaller brands, so be careful when it comes to signing away your time and effort for very little return.
Myth: “Sponsorships Are a Way For Me to Make More Money”
The way a sponsorship would typically work is that there’s generally going to be some sort of a stipend that’s offered to the photographer to create a certain amount of content to use the product. In terms of speaking engagements, with the trend of conferences, companies are less likely to have a large budget for having sponsored speakers and with how COVID has impacted the conference unit, we are likely to see huge structural changes in regards to how these conferences are even held. If you’d like to parlay your photography success into also a career in education, you can use multiple sponsorships and create a product line that can be self-sustaining, but in and of itself, these sponsorships are not going to make you rich. If you haven’t noticed I’m not sponsored by any major camera maker, and it’s not because I haven’t been approached, it’s because what they require for me is something I’m unwilling to do. All of these camera brands expect you to speak only about their product, and that’s it. That to me is crazy. Companies that limit my ability to speak honestly and openly only diminsh my reliability as an educator or source of information. This is one of the reasons I love Profoto, if my students came to me and said I they can’t afford Profoto gear asked for alternatives, they had no problem with me saying “use what you got” and giving them options for their budget and having their gear serve as an aspiration to eventually purchase.
Myth: “Wedding Photography is Going to Make Me Rich”
Wedding photography can be highly lucrative if you can stick with it and if you enjoy the process. It’s too easy to fall into the notion of passion being the main purpose of you becoming a photographer. What you need is a passion for the entire process, not just a passion for taking photographs. Taking the good pictures is 10 of this process, if you have a passion for running a business, marketing, sales, handling clients, customer service, then it will eventually become lucrative. There’s no such thing as getting rich or wealthy off of one person or client. If you’re a high-end boutique wedding photography studio and you want to make $100,000/year in revenue, expect to serve between 10 to 20 clients. A well-established business is going to take home about 30 cents on the dollar, so for every three dollars you’re gonna take home one.
If you’re actually serious about photography as a business, I would highly recommend jumping into our Photography Business Training System which will speed up and amplify your ability to succeed in this industry by tenfold. We have thousands of photographers around the world that have built successful businesses using this training system which is our operating manual for Lin and Jirsa Photography.