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Wedding Photography: Being an Introvert in an Extrovert Profession

By Guest Contributor on May 15th 2014

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jeremy Nielsen of Given Ideas Visual Productions based in Canada.]

Let’s face it. As artists, a good proportion of us are introverts. We like the hours of time at the computer, at the easel or in the studio. With a little music and some coffee, our artistic minds thrive. We are able to explore and create without the views of prying eyes. It’s not that we don’t enjoy our friends or hate the world, but we simply function better when we are alone or in small groups. So, what are the consequences when our artistic profession forces us to spend hours upon hours socializing in large crowds, having to consistently voice our opinion and artistic vision all while being professional? If you are anything like me, after shooting a wedding, you are almost always completely drained physically and emotionally, filled with doubts and sometimes leading to depression for the remainder of the week.

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With this past week being Mental Health Awareness Week (at least here in Canada) and with the wedding season just around the corner I wanted to share some tips on how I cope with this as an introvert.

1. Gear Down

I know it’s obvious, but often after a large shoot it’s important to stop and recharge those batteries of yours (I’m not speaking of your camera batteries). Take the time to care for yourself and slow down. Those photos can wait. Whether it’s some Netflix or jumping into a good book, you need to recover. Also, this cooling off period will allow you to look the photos freshly.

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2. Friend Up

Another huge thing is community. Your first reaction will be to go solo for as long as possible, hide in your studio and binge eat. Don’t. Some alone time is okay but if you aren’t careful that can bring you down. For me, personally, I will stay in almost constant contact with my second shooter after a wedding.

This allows her to stay involved in the project, as well as protect against negativity. In short, make sure you have someone around to talk to for first few days after a large shoot. Be honest with them and let them know where you are at.



3. Chin Up

I have spent many weeks in the “pits.” Over time, I have learned to see my strengths as an introvert and not allow the over whelming negativity that I can feel after wedding. Those doubts will get you down ONLY if you let them. Whether it’s post-it notes on your computer screen with positive quotes or reminders to smile, what is important is that you don’t let the negative affect the positive.

Mandy And Beven

4. Break It Up

You’ve started to edit your hundreds of photos and it’s overwhelming. This is another huge factor in the anxiety that can set in after an intense shoot. You have pressure from the client, you want to get the project delivered as soon as possible all the while doing it to the best of your ability. Sitting at the desk for fifteen straight hours is not going to help. It’s important that you take breaks, stretch your legs and refresh that mind of yours. I personally break a wedding edit into four groups: Prep shots, Ceremony shots, formal shots and reception. These I divide into three steps: Culling, light edits and final edits. To avoid feeling overwhelmed I’ll only allow myself to do three steps at a time before taking a break (e.g. Cull the prep photos, light edit the formals, final edit the reception and then take a break).

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5. Gear Up Slow

Once the photos have been delivered and you have another shoot around the corner, it’s easy to go from 0% to 100% in no time flat. Be sure to allow yourself time to ease back into the regiment.

Final Thoughts

As creatives, we love what we do. Creating memories that will be passed on for generations to come. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, especially for an introvert. Ensure you take the time to care for yourself and you will thrive along with your work.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Anastasia Borisyuk

    I can very much relate as an introvert! I love shooting weddings, with the anxiety and all, but the day after I am so drained I cannot function or even think about looking at the photos. Whenever possible, I try to leave the day after for decompression and family time, then on Monday after a wedding (or Tuesday if it is a Sunday wedding) I only cull and find that one “preview” photo to put on Facebook, then decompress some more. Engagement sessions are definitely a lot more manageable! I love being with the couple one-on-one without all the guests. :)

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  2. Steven Sy

    Thank you for this write up! I just finished a gig and I was feeling everything you were describing from being drained physically and emotionally after the shoot and the building anxiety and depression from it. I was wondering how other people who do photography and are also ‘introverts’ deal and it was just really reassuring to read everything that you wrote. It put me at ease a bit and the knot in my stomach is just slightly loosening. It’s good to know we are not the only ones.

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  3. Ben Perrin

    Love this article and your level of truth. I know I’ve certainly felt anxiety and mild depression after a wedding that never really eases until the couple have accepted the images. From the comments I can see that many are in the same boat, even though they all might be very skilled photographers. Being an introvert is certainly harder at a wedding but it can certainly be an advantage. We just have to remember to not be so hard on ourselves and that we can only give 100%

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  4. Jared Stewart

    Even being a self-proclaimed introvert, I know that personally it makes a huge difference in my anxiety levels by being well prepared and well practiced for whatever I’m about to do. Having that tiny bit of confidence definitely helps me to enjoy the craft, even when the stress kicks in.

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  5. Jeff Lopez

    Great article! Thanks for the advice and motivation.

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  6. Christine Einarsson

    Thank you so much for these tips. I will surely remember them next time

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  7. Tyler Friesen

    Good article. It depends on the dynamic of the couple on how we typically interact but I find if we meet enough prior to the shoots which is typically 2-3 times being yourself comes much more natural.

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  8. Cynthia Rankin

    I am so glad to know that I am not alone. Weddings bring me down to the point of sheer exhaustion. After a wedding of hours of creativity flowing at a rate of enormous speed I feel as though I’ve traveled through thick, sticky mud only to capture a small minority of the photos in creative mode. I’m typically nervous around people and find it hard to laugh and make small talk. All this is due to my personality and artistic nature. I’ve learned to walk away from the images for at least a week before returning to the post processing point. I also have learned to not expect so much of myself. After all, wedding photography is about capturing the moment and most of the time these moments aren’t always “Pintrest” moments. I find that most brides just want good exposed photos in a documentary style format.

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  9. Paul Ward

    Thanks for sharing. The stresses felt after a photo shoot are real. Managing that process is so important. Helps to see how others deal.

    Nashville, TN

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  10. Orfeu

    Great article! Simple and direct…It speaks to issues that many deal with but few openly speak of. Anxiety and depression are common aspects of the human condition that we all deal with regardless if one is an introvert or an extrovert. There is a specific way in which these conditions come about with introverts and it is wise for folks to know what works for them and come up with a way yo address theses issues proactively.
    When properly harnessed, amongst other things, self-doubt can turn into a centered sense of humility and be a major contributor to one’s ability to build their skill sets and identifying strengths and areas that need work. As for depression, in extreme forms it can be detrimental to anyone’s well being but it is no more than a part of the mood spectrum that we all experience. A little bit of depression gets one to settle into their internal world and it can actually be a place of reflection and growth.
    Thanks for the great article! Now if we can get an extrovert to write one about the major pitfalls of over confidence and manic energy we will have the polar ends of the spectrum of mood swings covered :)

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  11. Hillary

    Good advice, although this post seems to speak more to someone who’s dealing with anxiety and self-doubt, rather than dealing with the basic issues of introversion. By definition, introverts aren’t necessarily “afraid” to deal with the outside world, we just get drained quicker by it. We need time to ourselves to recharge. That’s it. It doesn’t mean we’re all loaded with anxiety or prone to binge eating. :D

    If you are feeling depressed and anxious, you might find yourself happier if you focus on other photography specialities. I wrote on this issue recently as well, and argued that introverted photographers are better suited for more passive photography genres:

    I eased back on portrait/wedding work myself and focus on landscapes and travel photography now. I’m much happier, because my work doesn’t drain me anymore. It recharges me. :)

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    • James

      Good point Hillary but I reckon that anxiety and self-doubt form part of any ‘artists’ world… introvert or extrovert, if you want to succeed and express yourself.

      As an introvert I want to face my fears in order to thrive, not hide under a rock and watch everyone else do what I can potentially be great at. It is just a bit harder at the back end which is why it is great for someone to at last speak up and admit its not all plain sailing on the emotion front. Community does make it easier for us introverts who love and want to shoot weddings!

      I can sometimes bring to the party something that an extrovert may not see or feel the same way which makes my work unique. Also not all wedding and portrait clients are extroverts and my own introversion has definitely played as my USP from time to time.

      I won’t lie as weddings do drain me but my recharge comes from the landscapes I love to shoot and the things I photographed when I started out. Again every introvert must only be an individual like you say and that is what I got from the original post… some may feel the need to binge, some may be prone to anxiety, some may feel the need to shy away and stick to what’s comfortable for them…. everything is cool. For an introvert to write a blog post like this on a very popular site is as equally as cool so kudos…. can I insert my link here? ;)

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  12. Sergio Cueto

    Oh my God!
    I felt alone in my depression and anxiety thinking that almost all of photographers are extrovert people.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your tips.

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  13. Jeremy Nielsen

    I completely agree. I definitely downplayed the depression and anxiety that I experience. It’s difficult but manageable if approached properly. I really think that this needs to be more of an open topic with artists but we are much too prideful at times.

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  14. James

    Community is everything! Great post… great honesty!

    This is me to a tee!

    I love this site a little bit more now as I am constantly absorbing education and inspiration from confident professionals but wondering why I feel like shit after say a wedding, almost to the extent that I put off editing the images as I struggled with the experience, despite weeks of thinking about and planning beautiful images.

    There must be a significant proportion of photographers (equally as artistic and driven as the less introverted) in the same boat, who would benefit from such refreshing news that ‘we are not alone’!


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  15. Jeremy Nielsen

    Hey thanks everyone for reading and your comments! I definitely think that there are a lot of us out there that struggle with this and I am glad this was able to maybe create some openness! Community is everything!
    Jeremy N.

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  16. Marvin Powell

    So so true… Just when I was beginning to think I was the only one who secretly had depression after shooting a demanding wedding.
    Well I will definitely put these tips into play for my wedding this weekend.
    Weird enough, that depression stage somewhat puts me in my place so I will actually prepare for a big shoot and not jumping into it being overconfident and unprepared.

    Never underestimate the level of difficulty for a big shoot.

    These tips should keep the depression to a minimum which ultimately increases confidence.


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  17. Waqas Zafar

    Great words, you have hit the nail on its head. You have described what some photographers actually go through when they choose a profession in which being a social animal is sometimes a must :)

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  18. Travis Brooks

    Great article!! Some really great tips!

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  19. Christoph Oberschneider

    Usually I don’t really care for commenting any articles – but this one made me change my mind. great writing, good thoughts and absolutely motivating. thanks!

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