Well I hate to say it, but here in North America, old man winter is coming to town, and besides colder temps and less daylight, winter brings the off season for many wedding photographers. It’s that time of year that photographers dread. The slow season or “off season” can be horrible; you go from working all day and night to no jobs on the books or inquiries for your services for weeks. It stinks, but the off season can actually be just what the doctor ordered to not only make you a better photographer, but also a better business owner.
[REWIND: PHOTOGRAPHY AND I BROKE UP! HOW I REKINDLED OUR LOVE AFFAIR]
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been thinking about the off season a lot lately. I’ve not been thinking about the possibility of less work or less inquires for my services, but more so what am I going to do with all this time I have on my hands. This year, I’ve actually put together a plan for what I want to do in the next three or four months before wedding season starts up again. I’m actually excited about the off season this year, but if you have no idea of what to do with all this newfound time off, here are five suggestions to help make your off season the best you’ve ever had.
Five Tips For Making This The Best Off Season Ever
Create Images Just For You
This should almost go without saying, but the off season is a great time to put together some personal photography projects or shoots for yourself. During the season, it can be hard to find time to shoot what you want to shoot. Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting weddings, but sometimes I just want to shoot something different for no one but myself. This is where the off season is awesome, you have more time on your hands and I know you want to use all that fancy gear you have!
You can choose to shoot whatever you want, but make a point to actually do it and not just think about it. It’s too easy to get sucked into staying home and not doing anything but stare at your email waiting for an inquiry. Maybe you can rent a studio space and set up a shoot with some local models and make up artist to do some wild, creative portraits. Maybe you love to cook; instead of just cooking and eating all that delicious food, brush up on your food photography skills by photographing the great dishes you make in your home.
No matter what you decide to photograph for yourself, make sure it makes you happy and gives you a reason to get out of bed and do something productive during the off season.
Update Your Website
The off season is a perfect time to update your website! Unless you love to work on your website on the regular, many photographer sites don’t get the love they deserve. I see a lot of sites from working here at SLR Lounge and so many of them I visit are either outdated or hard to navigate. Use the off season as a time to make your digital footprint beautiful and easy to use. Your website is one of the most important parts of your business. It’s your portfolio, it’s your voice to potential clients, and in the end, is your digital business card. When the snow is falling, don’t just sit on the couch and binge watch shows on Netflix, take some time to make your website awesome for not just you, but current and potential clients.
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Network And Form New Relationships
If you’re a wedding photographer, you’re not the only one dealing with the off season blues; all the other wedding vendors are dealing with the same problem. The off season is a great time to reach out to fellow photographers, wedding planners, venues, etc. and form new professional relationships. Use the off season as a time to set up meetings with venue directors and wedding planners you want to work with in the future. Offer to buy them a coffee and chat about what you can offer to their clients as a wedding photographer. You might not see any work come from those meetings, but you also might form a new business relationship that will bring both of you a lot of new business. The same rings true with fellow photographers. Some people believe having a relationship with another photographer is bad because they are the competition. That cannot be further from the truth. Fellow photographers will be your second shooters, they will refer you work that they can’t do, and in the end, can be allies in the industry.
This business is so much about networking and relationships, putting in the work to build new professional relationships is a lot easier when people have time to sit down and meet with you vs. during the busy season when we are all slammed with work. Take the time to meet some new people and network, it will only help you not hurt you. Trust me.
Blog All Those Weddings
I know, I know, you hate blogging. Well, it’s the off season and you have tons of awesome images you should show off, and a lot of time on your hands, so use that time to blog all those awesome weddings you shot. Blogging about the weddings and couples you meet during the season helps to show potential clients that you’re shooting on a regular basis. It shows that you can indeed shoot a whole wedding vs. just making a few awesome images that are showcased in your portfolio, and honestly, potential brides love to look at other weddings.
Having a strong blog can help to not only attract new clients, but gives life to your business. Use your blog posts as a way to tell a couple’s wedding day story, showcase fellow vendors you love, and talk about all the awesome experiences you had during the season. Don’t just blog and hope people find all those great posts, share your blog posts on social media, hit up Twitter, and share some images from the season on Instagram. Use the off season as a time to build up an online following vs. watching cat videos on YouTube.
Get An Education
I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell you how many times during the season I have to pass on watching a great class on CreativeLive or the newest tutorial on Phlearn’s YouTube page because I have client work to do. The off season is a great time to build up your photography and business education level. The amount of free education available to photographers online is almost unbelievable, and there are tons of seminars and workshops you can attend in person during the off season. Use this down time to learn and grow as a photographer and business owner. I’m personally looking forward to sitting down with a cup of coffee and scouring the Internet for some awesome free education!
And of course, check out some of our new SLR Lounge products: Photography 1o1 and the Smoke Texture Pack.
I know it can be hard to find the motivation to do anything photography or business related during the off season. We are tired or even burned out from a long season, but letting the off season go to waste is a horrible idea. Use it to become better at your craft, meet some new people, become a better business owner, and most importantly, spend some quality time with your family and friends that you don’t get to see all that often during the busy season.
What are your plans for the off season, let us know in the comments below!