Why I’m NOT Giving Up…..

crown and glory Kat Alexa Loy-47

Sheesh, I have recently seen sooooo many rants on the internet from photographers giving up because they find it too tough to cut it as a wedding photographer or they are sick of competing with the newbies who “under cut their prices/ don’t know what they’re doing/ use vintage processing/ are ruining the industry”. So here is my two pennies worth… first up a little history.

I started working as a photographer in the early 1990s first in music and then from 2000, the majority of my work has been in weddings. I am still as thrilled to earn my living in this way as I ever was, still as excited about each and every job, from the simple engagement shoot I did in the sunshine on Brighton Beach last night, to the look book that I shot for a collaboration between Rock n Roll Bride and Crown & Glory. I will NEVER tire of taking photographs or being in such a privileged position that people trust me to record their memories on one of the most important days of their lives. I will always be on a quest to take THE perfect photograph that sums up a wedding day.

crown and glory Kat Alexa Loy-99

So how have I managed to maintain that enthusiasm and longevity, especially at a time when the industry has become rather over-saturated? Well as I used to work in the music industry, let’s look there… who are the artists that have lasted, that are still creative and obviously loving what they do? To me, one that springs to mind is Madonna. When I was a teenager, I loved Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. I loved how they looked, the music and their style. Over the years Madonna has constantly evolved, reinvented herself and embraced new music styles then collaborated with new artists. She has built an empire around herself and said “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself”. Cyndi hasn’t maintained the same level of success or acclaim and hasn’t really changed in all this time. I’d much rather take Madonna’s attitude.

Over the years, the heart of what I photograph is always the narrative. My style and how the images look has evolved and changed direction depending on how I am shooting, what I am shooting and what my current obsessions are. This is one of the reasons why I am still passionate about all that I do. Not everything works but I believe in being your own fan club and I will shout about the good stuff and gloss over the stuff that doesn’t work so well but at least I’m taking a few risks. I also adore working with new photographers. I find their energy is infectious and I love seeing the industry through their eyes.

crown and glory Kat Alexa Loy-45

While I don’t look back at my old work and cringe my work has changed a lot over the years. If I was still shooting or processing in the same style, using the same kit or refusing to move with the times and offer what couples are now looking for in their wedding photography, would I be at all surprised if I felt like I was no longer valid? Of course not! It’s like with any industry, if Dixons was still trying to flog computers with big white CRT screens and 1MB of RAM they would have gone out of business a lot sooner than they did.

There is no denying that times are tough for a lot of photographers. There are a lot of low price options for couples but I also speak to many who value photography even more in this age of social media and affordable digital photography. They appreciate the skill and craft involved and how easy it is to get it wrong. My clients fall into two basic groups… those for whom my fee is a drop in the ocean of their substantial budget and those who push themselves to afford the photography and will cut corners elsewhere to ensure that they have a great record of the whole day. I love working with either but for the most part those who have put the higher percentage of their budget to the photography are incredibly rewarding to work with. They make time for the photography on the day and are excited about the whole process.

crown and glory Kat Alexa Loy-87

I have been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing clients this year and am pushing myself on the areas I felt I was weakest on. I am working on some amazing projects with Photography Farm and can’t wait to share something rather special soon that has been almost a year in the making.

So if you feel you haven’t the heart for it and want to give up, then fair enough. But just get on with it, I don’t really need to read your whinge about what everyone else is doing… If life gives me lemons, I get busy whipping up a kick ass lemonade… I don’t squeeze the juice in my eyes and then cry to everyone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Devlin is a wedding photographer from Brighton and a regular contributor to The Green Room. She hosts workshops on all areas of wedding photography as well as the 3-day long Photography Farm on a regular basis. If you are interested in attending The Photography Farm (food and accommodation included), the next event will be taking place from the 24th-26th September. For enquiries or bookings email Lisa on lisa@devlinphotos.co.uk or call 01273231047.

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15 comments

  1. The photography was one of the things we did decide to invest in for our wedding because the images will hopefully stay in the family for generations, and it was important to us.

    It doesn’t just apply to photographers – business is tough all over out there, and the atmosphere is very much ‘adapt or die’, but complaining about it wastes time that could be spent trying to find ways to make things better.

  2. Love this Lisa. So true, I wish more people would just make lemonade and maybe if that lemonade squirted them in the eye a little to remind them of the relevance… then thats ok with me!

  3. I saw this conversation on LinkedIn and could just picture the miserable bastards sitting at their PCs doing the last spot-colour edit of their wedding photography careers while moaning to each other on the internet about how it’s the nature of the business, not their lack of fresh ideas, that’s making them feel like they need to give it all up. It’s an exciting, constantly evolving industry to be part of. And I love the Madonna analogy 🙂

  4. Kim

    ” I don’t squeeze the juice in my eyes and then cry to everyone.” That’s awesome. Great article, and I love this quote!

  5. Lovely honest article, if you love what you do you keep evolving if its just to earn a crust you will never make it! you need passion and energy to push a business forward. People who understand will always find the money for a photographer or videographer. Dont worry about all the newbies undercutting prices they do what they do and we do what we do. Simple as life should be.

  6. Fantastic, Lisa! I completely agree with every word. Exactly the way to see not just the career, but the world and it’s heart. Photography is invaluable, so flexible and creative – if the industry is pushing those within it to be better all the time and have their own unique selling-point by honing their skills and taking risks to evolve then surely that is only ever a good thing. Brilliant article! p.s. love the lemons analogy – best version yet! 😀

  7. I agree that the market is getting saturated with new photographers… heck I’m one of them! But I think if you offer something unique, and not just the same vanilla posey-posey stuff, then you’ll find a niche that is profitable. I strive to be true to my voice, which is always evolving, and the brides who love me want to pay for it… and the ones who want discounted vanilla will go elsewhere. Either one is fine and we’re all happier in the end.

  8. Thank you for your positivity Lisa, changing with the times is what any small business needs to do and to listen to our clients, and to deliver what they want whilst keeping our integrity to what we personally value xx

  9. I needed this. I’ve just graduated university with a degree in photography and was left so deflated because I felt my work wasn’t good enough. I shot a wedding for my friend recently. Nothing to the standard of your work, but she loved the photos and the fact I went out of my way to do things that included things like her children in the photos made it special for her. It may have even given me the boost to doing a bit more.
    Thankyou for the positivity in such a potential cut throat market.

    Laura

  10. An excellent response to the “Why I’m Giving Up Wedding Photography” rants and I agree with this wholeheartedly. I’ve come into wedding photography only very recently and I’m probably one of those newbie photographers those who are giving up are on about. My prices are low, I agree, but this is because I lack experience and want to build that up. I have dabbled with the “vintage style” but if the wedding is a vintage style one, then why the hell not? I suppose some could argue that I don’t know what I’m doing either, but I have done tons of research, have worked hard to teach myself the important bits and now I want to get out there and DO so that I can start to say that I DO KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!!

    I just hope that in 10 or 20 years from now, I’ll still be going strong because I’m prepared to change myself and the way I work so that I’ll appeal to the clients of the future as well, that people will want to work with me, seek me out even, above those who may be charging less than me. But I also hope I’ll have the grace to accept that there are other newer photographers about who may be getting work instead of me, but that I can learn from them and what they bring to the table.

  11. Hear, Hear!! I totally concur with you! I just wrote a recent blog post regarding the same thing, how older, more seasoned photographers grumble and groan about the newbies, treating them like dirt, instead of changing with the times! It is important to see from both points of view of the new photographer trying to get in off the ground or the older photographer stuck in their ways. 😀 Passion is the one thing that will never change for me 😀

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