To say that being a wedding photographer is a difficult and high-stress occupation is an understatement, to say the least. Many a photographer have tried and failed spectacularly to make a go of a wedding photography business. No doubt, some have lost their minds along the way as well.
But there are a few things you can do to keep your sanity while you work in a pressure-cooker type of industry. We’ve picked out a few wedding photography tips that will help you deliver a great product to your clients while making your life just a bit easier.
A lot of people don’t like to ask for help. A lot of business owners have trouble releasing control to others. This creates a perfect storm of stress for wedding photographers that will really do nothing but negatively impact their ability to provide a top-notch service.
So, if you want to keep your sanity as a wedding photographer, you will need to delegate tasks. It’s difficult to trust someone with your livelihood, but if you are to have that livelihood for long, trusting others to help you out is an essential step. Whether it’s your sister, an intern, a second shooter, or some guy you found on Craigslist (okay...maybe not the last one), you’ll need to learn to delegate tasks to your helpers and trust that they can get the job done well.
Part of being able to delegate is understanding that others are perfectly capable of completing the tasks you assign them, but that it is a process that will take time. You need to invest the proper time to train your assistants, and you also need to embrace the fact that mistakes will happen. But just because mistakes are inevitable doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help. After all, you’ve made tons of mistakes and will make more in the future. No one’s perfect!
Know When to Cut Your Losses
As hard as it is to release control to an assistant, it’s probably even more difficult to wrest control back from them if you realize it’s just not a good fit. Few people enjoy confrontation. Fewer enjoy firing someone. But if you’re to keep your head on your shoulders, you’ve got to have the inner fortitude to throw up the white flag and surrender when you realize that the time, effort, and energy you’ve put into your assistant is for naught.
Seeking help is key to your success. But perhaps even more important is knowing when to cut your losses and let an ineffective helper go. The point of hiring help is for them to actually help you. If it turns out that the help isn’t helping, get rid of them, use it as a learning experience, and find someone better!
You Get What You Pay For
There’s nothing wrong with placing an ad for a non-paid intern or a college student that’s looking for a bit of experience in the business world. But if you think that a 20-year-old intern that’s working for free will put forth the same effort as a budding professional that you’re paying $20 an hour, you’re probably wrong. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of well-qualified, hard-working people out there that will work for peanuts; it’s just that those people are quite rare.
You wouldn’t buy a cheap kit lens to put on your full frame camera, so why would you find the cheapest, most inexperienced assistant to help you with such important tasks as bookings, second shooting, and bookkeeping? There’s nothing wrong with looking for the best bang for your buck, but as you do so, remember to look for helpers that have the personality for the type of work you need them to do and the work ethic to complete their assigned tasks on time.
When finding an assistant, remember that anybody is trainable. If you find someone that has a fantastic personality and a drive to learn, but who has no photography experience at all, they might be a better fit than the guy that has tons of photography know-how but has a scowl on his face all day long. Hiring an assistant isn’t just about what they know about photography or what they can do with a camera, it’s also about how they represent you and your brand, and how they make your clients feel.
So, for the sake of your sanity, look for help that is a good fit with your personality and workflow, put forth some effort into training them the right way, and enjoy the reduced stress and increased free time as you delegate tasks to your new assistant!