It's come to that post turkey nomming time where I start to reflect on the past year and think about the next with the optimism of a My Little Pony at a 24 hour dance-a-thon. "Next year I'm going to take up boxercise! I'll eat less Monster Munch and drink more water and I'll become this amazing sentient being of inner peace and kindness to all!"
After I'd finished making things up and lying to myself, I decided to make a list of (very honest) wedding photography resolutions, which I have a much better chance of sticking to. So, here's a list of things I've learnt this year and things I want to change in the new year.
1. I will not shoot more than two weddings in a row, and avoid shooting any back to back if it can be helped.
With wedding photography, your annual salary is entirely dependent on the number of weddings you can take, so of course, if anything we need to book as many weddings as possible. However, 2014 was a time where I experimented with my stamina threshold and came to understand how many weddings I could shoot before I started to feel an impact on my creativity. In 2015 I have been extremely lucky to have pretty much booked out for the year but oddly enough the weddings are very nicely spread across the year, with only one weekend with two weddings in a row, both in London.
2. Similarly to/as a result of 1. I will give 110% creativity to every wedding and seize each as an opportunity for making amazing photos.
Like any day job, you'll have days when you're not on top form. It could be tiredness, it could be a creative rut, it could be other things on your mind. Either way, I think it's easy to forget that every wedding is your one chance to produce something creatively unique and original so for 2015 there will be no excuses. I will raise my game with every wedding I shoot and always dare to try something different. I will not be influenced by pinteresty safe shots and see each wedding as a blank canvas for me to repaint. And hopefully something amazing will happen!
3. I will blog on a more personal level, and show people more of the behind the scenes action!
I suppose this is something that I know I would have done this year if it wasn't for all my PhD trappings, I had a few spurts of good ideas like keeping a fortnightly/monthly MCP diary with instagram phone snaps so people can see the reality of wedding photography (mostly eating nice food and seeing nice places), but I could definitely commit to writing and sharing more frequently.
4. I will spend less time uselessly facebooking and more time usefully connecting
This is something I've been thinking a lot about since my trip to India. I spend (read waste) a lot of time lurking around lots of photographer FB groups and joining in on discussions but not enough time actually trying to connect to other wedding industry suppliers (especially non photographers). Being self employed can potentially be a lonely career and the wedding world is my open plan office. Again, this has partly been the PhD's fault, but next year I'd like to actually spend more time meeting up with other suppliers and getting to know people over a cup of tea and cake rather than superficially grazing past people online on a loo break (oh c'mon we all do it!)
5. Be grateful for everything I have every single day
More of a thinky than a do-ey, I really love my job, being a wedding photographer is undeniably awesome and it allows me to have a more free lifestyle where I can determine my own working schedule. It's a luxury that many others don't have so I think I should make the most of it by A. being grateful for each day and B. using my flexible time to give back to others (I am going to volunteer in the homeless sector, something I did a long time ago that I then made excuses to myself that I didn't have the time to continue with). Although that might seem a bit more removed from the wedding photography business, I think the point of point 5. is that enjoying my life outside of work will improve my enjoyment at work. When I was doing my PhD, it was nearly impossible to get downtime so I have very much fallen out of the habit of doing fun things for myself, including shooting personal work like street photography. Exposing yourself to new experiences, thinking and stimuli is so important for fuelling on creativity, so I think by making the most of life, I can up my photography game.
And as well as thinking about the future, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on and being glad for the plethora of positive things from the past year!
1. People love themselves, yeay!
The core ethos of my wedding photography is that I want people to realise that their wedding day should be about them having fun and enjoying themselves in what is a very special and emotional day in their life. I openly confess I am not the photographer for those who feel beauty lies in the hair and make up and dazzling dress. Instead, I hope all my clients understand that to look beautiful on their wedding day they should just be themselves and have an awesome time with friends and family. All the real and expressive moments are what make amazing wedding photos, there's no need to look a certain way or be a certain size. As a documentary photographer, pretty much all of my clients are the kind of people who don't like posed photos. Often their reasons are things like "we aren't very photogenic"/"we don't like posing, it's awkward"/"we don't look good in photos". Over the year I've had some amazing feedback from clients who said that they didn't expect to love how they looked in their wedding photos but cried when they saw themselves. I've been told by parents that they have never seen their own family so full of life in a photo, how they'll forever treasure the photo of their son welling up. When I first started shooting weddings, I didn't plan for it to become my full time job so I never felt the need to confirm to any industry norms, I just shot them in a way that felt natural and right to me. I kind of knew it'd be a risk having a strong no-photoshop-just-love-your-real-self stance but it seems that lots of couples have embraced it in 2014 and plenty more are embracing it in 2015! So my first 2014 horn toot is that I've helped some people realise they are amazing without the need for airbrushing and I'll continue to fight the good fight!
2. and 3. Top 10 and top 50!
Amazingly, not sure how, but two blogs included me in their pick of some of the best wedding photographers in the country. It was a real surprise and honour, in both cases I wasn't approached or told anything beforehand so I don't know how they saw my work but it's nice to feel that people have seen my wedding photos and felt they were special!
4. Pretty much booked out for 2015!
One of the biggest challenges a wedding photographer faces is financial stability. I feel really lucky and proud of the fact that since my first year of business I have always had a healthy number of bookings, shooting 30+ weddings each year. I never expected it but I am already nearly fully booked for next year, with only a handful of dates left, so it's nice to feel the business is growing in strength with each year, it makes me really excited for 2016!
5. Lots of lovely features
There's too many to list, but weddings I have shot have been featured on the likes of Rock N Roll Bride, Whimsical Wonderland Weddings, Off Beat Bride, Boho Weddings and many more! I'm grateful that a lot of my couples are happy to be featured, many of them enjoy the acknowledgement for all their hard DIY work and it's pretty cool to show your friends you got published!
Yay for 2014 and extra yay for 2015!