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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273231047.