The Changing Business of Wedding Photography: Are You Keeping Up?

Do you know Lee Morris, pro photographer, video producer and wicked-good educator? You should. He’s an incredible, seasoned commercial, advertising, fashion and wedding photographer, plus he’s co-founder of the refreshingly useful website He’s also a friend of ours who took a moment to reflect on the wedding business, why it’s so hard, how it’s changing and how pros like you can make the most of it by staying true to your heart.

by Lee Morris

Weddings, From Film to Digital

It’s hard to imagine now, but just a few years ago wedding photographers burned every image into a single piece of film. If they didn’t expose or focus the image correctly, the frame was ruined. If the film was processed incorrectly, scratched, or lost, the picture was gone forever. A single piece of film with a quality image on it was a very valuable thing and wedding photographers charged accordingly. It was common for wedding photographers to charge a single flat rate to show up to the wedding but then an additional fee for the number of images taken and processed. At the time it was very common for couples to pay their wedding photographers a few hundred dollars to take the pictures, but they would then spend thousands paying for prints and albums to be made after the event. Just a few years ago, a digital copy of a photograph, one that you could view on a computer was worthless to couples getting married. They wanted classic prints that they could hold in their hands, hang on the wall, and share with their friends, and they were willing to pay a premium for them. Times have changed.

As digital started to take over, wedding photographers were very slow to give away or even sell the files to their clients and rightfully so; for their entire careers, they made most of their money selling prints, not actually shooting. Many photographers that were unwilling to adapt their businesses actually went under because they thought they couldn’t compete with the new “cheap” digital market. What many of these photographers failed to realize was that the money was still there, in fact, as wedding photography progressed, couples were actually willing to spend more; many of them simply weren’t interested in paying for expensive prints in a digital world.

The Role of Sentimentality in Business

When it comes to managing a business as intimate as wedding photography it’s easy to let your emotions take over. I try my best to approach my photography business as I would any other business. I need to manage my time, keep my current clients happy, consistently book new clients, and make money. So many photographers fail to meet at least one of these goals. Maybe you are really good at making your current clients happy but you work too much and you don’t enjoy your job or have time to enjoy your life. Maybe you book a ton of work but you don’t charge enough and you are constantly struggling financially. During the digital revolution many photographers that didn’t change their pricing structure were incapable of making their current clients happy. Maybe their pictures were great but as digital started to take over, couples felt like they were getting nickeled and dimed after the event. If you can’t make your current clients happy, you are going to struggle to find new clients.

When I started my business years ago I learned very early on that I hated making prints and albums. I could shoot a wedding in a few hours and make a few thousand dollars but it would take me a full day to retouch a few pictures, print them myself or take the files to a lab, package them up, take them to the post office and I would only make a few dollars profit. In many cases my clients would have to wait weeks to actually get their prints because I was out of the state shooting another job. I decided that I was going to start giving away the digital files with each of my weddings. Maybe I would lose a few dollars on the back end but I was also gaining a ton of free time and my clients were happier because they could print their pictures, how they wanted, when they wanted.

As a single guy in my twenties, money was important to me but free time was far more valuable. Once I had booked my 20 or 30 weddings for the year I knew I had plenty of income to support myself and I now had the security to start working on other things. With the extra time I had gained, I created the photography website If I had focused on custom prints and albums like other photographers do I have no doubt I would have made a bit more money but Fstoppers has been far more rewarding. Creating videos for our website like Bon Jovi’s photographer behind the scenes, or Peter Hurley’s: The Art Behind The Headshot, or our newest video: How To Become A Wedding Photographer, has been the most exciting experiences of my life.

My point is that you may love your photography career (I sure do) but if you can give yourself some extra time, who knows what you will be able to create.

SmugMug = Time = Money

When I found SmugMug I realized that it filled 3 major needs in my business:

1. High resolution backups are included with the subscription.
2. It allowed me to promote my photography by giving guests and family members a place to go to see my work.
3. Bay Photo integration means I give my clients high quality prints without actually having to do any work.

By simplifying my business I was meeting all 4 goals above; I had more free time, my clients were happier, I was marketing to new potential clients, and I was making money from print sales each month.

It’s easy to think that we know what’s best for our clients. We may know that if they don’t book an album now, they will probably never get one made. But the sad truth is that many of our clients would rather put their pictures on Facebook than deal with an album. It’s important to remember that we are hired by these couples to do a service for them; if they don’t want prints, we should figure out what they do want and charge them accordingly for that. If you’ve ever bought a car before you know how obnoxious it can be when the salesman tries to sell you on something you don’t want. There are so many other ways to make money with wedding photography that may not involve incredibly expensive prints. I make far more money than I ever did selling prints selling engagment and bridal sessions, setting up a photobooth at receptions, selling video slideshows of the event, and offering a video service. Many photographers also don’t know that SmugMug makes it incredibly easy to sell digital copies of files. If you don’t want to give away your files like I do, you are able to set the size and price for each individual picture.

I want to make it clear that I love high quality prints and that many wedding photographers make a lot of money selling prints, even today. I love seeing my work printed huge, professionally framed, and hanging on a wall. My point is simply that times are changing and the current generation of brides probably do not want the same things that their mothers wanted. To stay ahead of the pack you need to deliver exactly what your clients are looking for, not what you think they will appreciate one day.

If I could sum up this article into a single point it would be this: Listen to your clients, and give them what they want. A happy bride will tell her friends how wonderful you are you will never have to worry about a shortage of work. In some cases, especially this one, it can make your life a whole lot simpler and you might even make more money.

All photos by RL Morris Weddings

Get a Boost in the Business of Love

In the spirit of wedding season and WPPI, we’re going to pick one extremely lucky winner who will sharpen their wedding photography skills and  fistbump the biggest stars of the wedding biz in Las Vegas.

Here’s what we’re giving away:

Here’s how to enter:

  1. LIKE SmugMug’s Facebook page
  2. LIKE Fstoppers’ Facebook page
  3. POST A COMMENT BELOW answering the question:

    What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?

Get your entries in and we’ll randomly pick one winner on February 13, 2013. So keep your eyes peeled and don’t forget to check back for when we announce it here.

Edited to add: The giveaway is over but you can still learn! We highly recommend that you check out Lee’s video, available now on the Fstopper’s site. It’s a comprehensive, 14-hour, 2-years-in-the-making tutorial covering everything you’ll ever need to do know to become a successful wedding photographer. Check out the trailer to get more details about what you’ll learn and why wedding photography will change your life.

Good luck!

UPDATE: We’ve spun the wheel of destiny and it picked… Dennis Schroader! Congrats Dennis and we’ll be in touch with you to deliver your prizes. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts with all of us in the wedding industry!

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I'm a freelance documentary photographer who loves travel, rangefinders, medium format film photography, and everything in-between.

139 thoughts on “The Changing Business of Wedding Photography: Are You Keeping Up?”

  1. “What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?”

    Juggling time between acquiring new clients, servicing current clients, mastering my craft, handling the paperwork, and having a life.

  2. I think the hardest thing is managing the expectations and anxiety of my clients. Sure, there is always pressure to get the right shot and produce something your clients will admire, but weddings are different. Everyone is stressed out, and if you miss the key shots you could be in for serious repercussions from an already stressed bride and groom. Those moments, such as the procession or first kiss, are fleeting, and you can’t ask them to go back for a do-over. They expect perfection, and you better deliver.

    1. I have only had one bride I would call “stressed out”. The rest were happy and joyous. But one advantage of being a part-time pro, is I can easily say “no” to clients I get a bad vibe from. I don’t need the money to put food on the table – so I enjoy this luxury.

      1. Thanks Ryan, that’s good to know. I’m mainly doing engagement photos now, because I can take my time with it. I’m in the same boat as you and don’t need to deal with clients who I might not mesh with.

  3. This is a fantastic article and I couldn’t have said it better myself. And this is exactly what I do with my part-time wedding and portrait photography business. I had my doubts and anxieties that I was selling out to the client and harming my industry. But I’m not. I’m doing good business — making good money by making happy clients in a way that fulfills me and frees up my time for the things I love (family, my engineering day job, working on my blog, etc.) End of story.

  4. The hardest part about being a wedding photographer is believing in myself. I have doubts every time I take on a new client. And even though those doubts disappear by the time I hand the images over to the client and they are ecstatic about my work — I still have doubts every time. It’s something I think will (and probably shouldn’t) ever go away. The last thing I want to be is a cocky wedding photographer.🙂

    1. I am the same way… I thought it would go away, but after 5 years of having the same feeling, every time, I guess its not going to.

  5. Just starting out, getting my name out to brides is the hardest thing for me. I love helping people and finding out what they need is what makes a wedding such a blast.

  6. For me it would be getting started! I’ve been “doing photography” for about 6 years and have been asked to photograph weddings and have never accepted. Weddings are not “do-overs”!! But, because I’ve been asked (more recently) I think maybe I need to consider it..but not before learning what you should know before you start! I follow lots of other photographers and their business and just sponge up all of it. I loved this article because it simply is to the point: do what people want – they are paying you for it!🙂 Thanks for a super read.

    1. It’s good to be prepared and do some research before you shoot a wedding. But don’t think you need to know everything before jumping into the waters. I was in the same boat when I started – and I have learned by doing. And I’m still learning that way. Keep your first wedding simple and you’ll do awesome.

  7. Hardest part is converting great images into sales of prints. As a part time photographer who does not have a studio or “office” other than my living room, the clients living room or a local coffee shop, it is hard to put on a presentation of selected prints and help the decision making process to finalize a print purchase. I love SmugMug and the storefront it offers, but just displaying a client’s gallery for them to pick from is not the best answer. And I need some Bay Photo sample albums to use to sell albums.

    1. What if you didn’t try to convert? I think that’s what this article is talking about. Just shoot, edit and deliver the files to the client. If they want to buy from your SmugMug site – great. If they want to buy from walmart – whatever. If they don’t want prints at all – cool. Make your money in the shoot – not in selling images. Then you’ll eliminate what you say is the hardest part of your business!🙂

  8. The hardest part for me is juggling the time to edit, produce, sell, and deliver then turning around and having another wedding the next weekend – back to back to back to back! Phew! But I LOVE being busy!😉

  9. “What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?”

    Getting people to understand that you pay for quality. Just because the guy you met before me is 70% less than me doesn’t mean you’re getting a good picture. Some people understand that you don’t scrimp on this, put the money towards your memories. A majority of them, thanks to craigslist, don’t.

  10. The hardest part for me is keeping the entire wedding party organized and close by as to be ready when I call them, and to not allow others to take pictures while i am taking pictures.

  11. The hardest thing for me is dealing with uncooperative bridal parties. I hate having to be the “assertive” photographer.

  12. I find that after being away from the wedding business for so long it is rather tough to get back into the mainstream of the business. Getting to places where brides are looking for their photographer. From there the whole game has changed since the film days but I’ll cross that learning threshold when I get there.

  13. I am new to the world of wedding photography. I have many years of fine art photography in my past. I have shot a few weddings for coworkers children and have enjoyed the work processes associated with this new art form. I’m am working with a few togs as a second and want to learn all I can about the business end of the wedding photo process

  14. I have found that the Brides are not the hard ones to please, It’s the Mother and Mother-in-law!! Also, like a few other stated finding the Clients willing to pay for the services. Everyone wants something for nothing😦

  15. “What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?”

    People wrangling!

    Trying to focus on the creative while managing a fidgety group can be a challenge.
    I rely on a good assistant, or a good friend of the family or family member if Im solo.

    1. I enlist in a family member who knows both sides of the family and isn’t afraid to yell to get people together. Turns into a good cop (me) bad cop (family member) thing which is perfect.

  16. I have only shot one so far, and another on the books, so I am quite the newby. However, I find the anxiety of missing some of the shots by not being able to be three places at once is the worst~

    1. The more you do, the better you’ll get at anticipating the next moment during the day. Congrats on jumping in with both feet!

  17. I primarily do portraits but am trying to book more weddings. The hardest part for me is the anxiety prior to the wedding and time management culling and editing afterwards.

  18. The hardest part for me as a wedding photographer is knowing what my work is worth. Today’s brides are money savvy and try their hardest to save a buck. I struggle with how much I am willing to work with a bride before I feel like they want everything free. Not only do I have to sell my work and myself, but now I have to sell the value of a photograph. I find this very difficult.

    1. One of the biggest milestones I had in my part-time photography business was when I quoted a price to a bride and she was hoping for something less. I didn’t budge — because, doing this part time I didn’t NEED the money. So this was the first time I turned down work and if felt liberating. I do it quite often now. I price high and expect a good 30% of the people who come knocking on my door can’t afford me. It’s great.🙂

  19. “What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?”

    Keeping everyone happy: Your clients, the mother of the bride, the mother of the groom, the bridesmaids, the wedding planner, the banquet hall manager, your own staff. Everyone has their own input as to how ‘the shot” should occur. You have to listen to everyone but politely stand firm and trust your own instincts – that’s what they hired you for.

  20. The hardest part about wedding photography for me is time management. I want to be able to make my clients feel super important to me (because they are!) and I want to turn the photos around to them quickly, but I still have to make sure my family is a priority. I just need a few more hours in a day…

  21. I use weddings to finance social photojournalism and keeping the overall balance of both is extremely difficult, especially going from living in a mud hut in an AIDS devastated community to an 11 bathroom house at a beach wedding.

  22. I think the hardest part of being a pro wedding photographer is keeping a market share when everyone and their mother thinking they can shoot a wedding. Expectations are high and when you add the stress of a guest who’s comes to a wedding with more gear than you do it can be overwhelming. To say nothing of the folks who post the pics they took on FB and other sites, it’s hard for any extra print sales. I try and shoot “Photo booths” because I can control the lights and ther subjects better, plus I can an image thats unique for them.

    I don’t shoot weddings. I like working better one-on-one in a studio or a location.

  23. Hardest part of being a wedding photographer is presenting the final result to the bride groom and family, I strive to provide them with memories that will last a lifetime and truly captured the magic of what brought them together.

  24. I have found in my experience, it is being able to capture the special moments. I find that today’s weddings seem to move so fast. The last wedding i shot, the bride and groom had just finished walking in, went straight to first dance to cutting the cake right to the toast. Seriously, it was all done in a matter of 20 minutes. Keeping up with it, trying to get set and making sure not to miss a great shot was nerve racking. The other part that is hard is, with everything being digital, everyone feels that photos should be in their hand the next day. Even though you layout the process, they can be very pushy about getting their photos back right away. Its like you done shoot let me grab my laptop and copy your card. Makes managing the client hard.

  25. For me, the social interaction is the most difficult part of shooting weddings. Keeping everyone happy, upbeat, and on task. I am not a perky person, but I have to play one when I shoot weddings.

  26. The hardest part for me is the Bridezillas, they try to blame you for things out of your control. I did one wedding on the Central Coast of California, they checked the weather report and boy was it wrong. Cold and windy, and the company that was hired to set up the seating; set it at the wrong beach. I made the best of it but it was definitely the hardest wedding I have had to do.

  27. I’m very new to wedding photography and I put a lot of stress on myself. The hardest part for me is trusting in my skills and my eye – knowing that I got the shots the bride and groom wanted. I always have a few, “I wish that had turned out better,” but my clients are happy and I need to stop stressing and so what I know I can do!

    1. Exactly. I always miss shots and screw stuff up. And I always worry when I hand my images over to the client. But every client I’ve ever had has been overjoyed with the images (though I know that I will get my first one day). So I have to keep reminding myself that my perception of my work is VERY different from my clients. I take lots of shots. I throw away the bad ones. I edit and hand over the great ones.

  28. The hardest part of being a wedding photographer is how little people understand how hard we work. We try to be “affordable” but the time we spend doing advertising, bookings, consultations, prepping, shooting and delivery is unbelievable. Don’t even get me started on the editing process. Clients tend to think that a few weeks turn around time is too much, but they have no idea how much time and effort I put into making each photo as perfect as it can be. The time and effort is mostly behind the scenes and under-appreciated. But I wouldn’t change it for the world because I love what I do.

  29. The hardest part of being a wedding photographer for me is fighting for a part of a bride’s wedding budget. One of the longest conversations I have with people is what the value is in hiring a professional versus going with the cheapest person with a camera they can find. My own best friend is getting married in June and she is telling me she’s thinking of going without a wedding photographer just to save those funds for something else for her wedding – it boggles my mind! I feel like I am struggling to get a place in a bride’s wedding in between their flower arrangements and their catering bill…even though photographs are monumentally more important than any exotic flower. I have had to realize that not everyone’s priorities are the same, and I need to target brides who value and appreciate the art and importance of photography for their wedding!

  30. The toughest fear about shooting a wedding is getting over the fear of messing something up! I guess there are 2 schools of thought on this…Don’t know your equipment well enough or it’s good to be nervous, keeps you thinking and on your toes. I’m of the latter school of thought….always thinking and double checking….we are charged with creating their new beginning together…awesome, awesome resposibility!

  31. I”m new to wedding photography the hardest part for me is getting my name out there. In my attempts to get out there I have ran across some very anxious mothers & mother-in-laws … they seem to be the ones that are going to be the most difficult to deal with & cause me the most anxiety… On the high note I finally got a booking for April🙂

  32. “What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?” The Hardest part for me getting started in a overly saturated market. Also having the business skills to do it I’m an artist at heart though the business skills I kind of small short in that area. I think those would be the hardest things for me.

  33. The hardest part for me is remembering all the names of the bridal party, the parents the extended family! I usually fall back on the “OK Mom of the bride” but I would love to be more personal with all my couples’ families.

    1. Totally! I have had this problem too. I also hate it when I see an old client of mine (not a bride, but maybe a mom from a family shoot) and they say hello to me, but I can’t remember their name. Yikes. It’s one of my goals for 2013 to improve my memory to remember names and faces.

  34. The hardest part for me is time.. My clients are my priority so they always get the first piece of my time, the remainder goes back to developing the business- creating new we pages, networking with other pros in the industry, doing charitable events. If only there were 30 hours in a day:)

  35. When we were searching for a wedding photographer close to 7 years ago, I would ask them first off if they would let me pay them a rate for their time and then a DVD of all the pictures. Some politely declined and we moved on. We ended up with a lovely photographer who gave us exactly what we wanted and we paid for it accordingly. I’m going to touch on this more in depth in a post next month on my blog – I’m finishing up creating a scrapbook with the wedding pictures (what I was envisioning when I wanted the DVD in the first place).

  36. I’ve found the hardest part to be after the bride has picked out what shots she wants, everyone has their opinion on which shots I should be taking during the sessions. Other than a few lighting challenges I have run into that’s usually the most difficult (friends and family that stress out the bride)

  37. I find it frustrating having every guest at the wedding trying to get their shots for social media without regard for the person who is taking the official shots…then trying to come over to compare shots.

    1. Haroldson :
      I find it frustrating having every guest at the wedding trying to get their shots for social media without regard for the person who is taking the official shots…then trying to come over to compare shots.

      Wow, that is the rudest thing I have heard of. I remember going to my last wedding (as a guest). It was in a church. Many of the guests were being horribly rude because they were constantly snapping pictures and almost none of them bothered to mute the sound from their cameras. So not only were there many hands and cameras/phones sticking up, but a constant chorus of BEEPING from the focus-confirmation, and CLICKING from the shutters.

      For my own wedding I’m going to ban that type of behavior. Instead we’ll put the official shots up on the web and share them. That way guests don’t have to bother taking their own (which are inferior anyway).

  38. The hardest part for me is dealing with the much lower prices of my competition. I hear all the time how they wish they could afford me but can’t. And then I see what they end up with and want to cry for them

  39. The hardest part about wedding photography is avoiding the drama behind the scenes. You were hired to take pictures not put out fires!

    Also , print sales are down lately. People seem more interested in digital downloads. Changing times I guess.

  40. “What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?”

    Simply this: saying no to the good in order to say yes to the best.

  41. The hardest part about wedding photography is having all of the family come together for photos. They were moving around, left to grab something but didn’t come back, etc.

  42. Answering questions during a pre-wedding client interview or email conversation. as you are trying to be hired to shoot their wedding.

  43. The hardest part to me of being a wedding photographer is capturing the right moments, the right way. Getting that exposure right, composition, and pose all ties into that challenge. I love it.

  44. I think the hardest part of wedding photography is keeping the bride happy while she is feeling the pressures of her special day and keeping the opions of others code to her or of the mix!

  45. The hardest part for me is that you can’t really rest throughout the day. Things keep happening constantly, everyone interacts and creates these little, special moments that want to be captured. Especially the key ceremonies allow no missed shots. Having a second shooter/videographer does help relieve the pressure a bit and you certainly feel you’ve worked once the adrenaline comes down! Until then it’s just pure excitement, flow and emotion🙂

  46. “What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?”

    Finding clients…..definitely an art to connecting with the “right” clientele….

  47. The hardest part about being a wedding photographer is trying to make everyone happy. People are picky, and sometimes, my image isn’t the image they saw in their head. Doesn’t change the fact that I LOOVVVEE what I do, and tend to go above and beyond to make my clients happy!🙂

  48. The hardest part, in my opinion, is dealing with all the “low-ball” competition in a very saturated market. Trite sounding I know, but it gets tiresome to say the least. But everyone else deals with the same thing too…so I know overcoming it is mostly a mental approach too!

  49. To me, it will be getting access. As I am only starting out in the wedding scene, it’s hard to gain access to brides and couples and to gain their trust when so much is at stake. It is one thing to photograph a friend’s wedding, but another to pitch to potential clients.

  50. The hardest part of being a wedding photographer , to me , is being able to give a couple and their family the magic of creativity that is expected by all in such a fast and high pressured environment. I sometimes am left disappointed that there are great photo opportunities unfulfilled .

  51. For me it is believing I have to be perfect in order to get started as I prepare to do this for the first time. Also what exactly do I need in the way of equipment? Is mine adequate?

  52. Being in all the right places, all the time, so you don’t miss the details that will be the best memories. Another challenge is always lighting, both indoors and out. I think the hardest part is guarantying no mistakes, and a perfect record of the day.

  53. I have a huge passion for photography and it’s tough when that passion gets in the way of ensuring that I’m not giving away my service. Finding that balance is the key.

  54. The hardest part of being a wedding photographer for me is trying to be everywhere at once. I never want to miss a moment but I cannot afford to divide my attention too much. Sometimes it’s tough to find a balance.

  55. The hardest part about being a wedding photographer is keeping your head together! That day is full things to do and coordinating with family members, the bride, the groom, and everything else. It is busy day with lots of pressure. You cannot mess up on a wedding day. There is no going back or time traveling available!

  56. The hardest part of being a wedding photographer is making sure that everything gets captured, and nothing gets left out.

  57. I am looking to do something like this part time. I have helped to photograph some weddings for friends & family. It’s hard to handle expectations. Looking to break into the business, I think it will be difficult to find clients.

  58. The hardest part of wedding photography for me is keeping up with photography education. I love the business aspect of the job. I love the client side of the job. I love editing. I love shooting. But making the time to actually practice is so hard for me.

    p.s. Great article! Good reminders.🙂

  59. I have a difficult time pleasing the couple and then everyone else puts in their two bits and seem to know more about photography than me! Also I had a couple who hired a “friend” to photograph with me. I asked them if I had permission to do certain things and then this other person kept pushing me out of the way. I hate people that try to make you fail (which I didn’t)!

  60. The hardest part(s) for me is trying to be in two places at once and capturing the photos that I know my clients want and stressing out over hoping that I have met the clients expectations.

  61. “What (to me) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?”

    The hardest part is easily not having enough time with just the bride and groom!
    I always want more!

  62. Knowing what to charge! This article totally resonated with me as I used to do a lot of weddings with printing done afterward; I felt like I gave my clients a very beautiful product for what I charged, I had a lot of control over every image that bore my name and it is hard for me to just give them a memory stick and walk away… and to know what that is worth! I do love the freedom of not hassling with prints and albums and since I started offering digital 100% of my brides have chosen this option. So, it is obviously the way to go but change (and giving up control) is always tough…🙂

  63. Hardest part is the paying tax etc on everything and keeping a business head on my creative shoulders. Oh to have staff to do for me.

  64. The thing i find the hardest for wedding photographer, is being new and stepping outside the box from the norm. I can look at magazines or ask the couple what they want and sure ill do those shots but the extra groundbreaking shots, the ones that when everyone sees says man why didn’t I think off that or other photographers use that next time they shot.

  65. TIME MANAGEMENT! The hardest part for me is sticking to actual work hours…and not staying up until 3:00 a.m. working. At my old desk job, it was easy to leave at 5:00 p.m. and not think about work until the next morning. But now that I am so invested in my business and my work, it’s hard to disconnect.

  66. “What (to me) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?”

    Since I am in South Africa it makes it hard for me to take the gamble of just saying lets go full out and be a full time photographer, here we can’t just say drop the day job and go.
    I would really like to start taking the steps towards being a full time photog.
    I hope that this will help me in taking those steps.

  67. What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?

    The hardest part for me is saying no to the brides who cant afford my list price.

  68. I think the hardest part for me can be the stress and making everything right. And also, trying to evolve with all the changing styles.

  69. One of the biggest compliments I’ve gotten as a new shooter, is how excited they were that I was excited. I see a lot of photographers who just approach them like a sale, or their job, and they lose business because of it. My clients know I love what I do, and can see it when they talk to me, and they say that made all the difference.

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  71. Managing work and family life, as most Weddings are held on the weekends it effects the family time you just need to plan family holidays and activities in the quiet months.

  72. I loved reading these comments. I’ve been shooting weddings for twenty years – mostly higher-end events in San Francisco and Napa/Sonoma/Wine Country. I’ve rolled with plenty of changes. I long ago adapted the same mindset as Lee. Give your clients what you would want. I charge for my talent and provide complete access to high res files + send them another copy on a flash drive. Often they order prints through Smug (and I probably don’t promote that feature as much as I should). Uncomparable and priceless the difference in work flow pre and post SmugMug. However, time is time. I’m not managing prints and albums anymore, but I am stuck in front of my monitor for hours. I have a new rule – no more than two hours of mind numbing post production before I must get up, go outside, do anything else. I’m starting to bring (and pay!) my eleven year old daughter as my assistant. I know this is not a substitute for “family time”, but I’m proud to expose her to the purposeful work I do. Plus, she’s a total romantic and loves anything bridal right now.

  73. finding the next client and finding a second shooter that is as committed to the moments at the wedding that simply must be captured; another intuitive sharp eye

  74. The hardest part about wedding photography for me, is the pressure I put on myself. I want to be I all places at the whole time, even though I know I can’t be. I want to get the candid shots, but know I need to concentrate on the creative ones. And time! There is never enough time! Lol! I love the adrenaline rush of it all though! And I love looking at the final images and feeling proud to be able to deliver some fab memories to the couple afterwards.

  75. The hardest part about being a wedding photographer for me is understanding that you have to charge reasonably in order to keep your business alive and also keep the clients happy. Many times, you have to let certain clients go instead of dropping your prices.

  76. My wife is the wedding photographer and I’m the business manager. I have the pleasure of 2nd shooting for her on occasion and whenever we travel. The hardest part to me about being a photographer at a wedding is watching tray after tray of delicious food pass by me without being able to eat it. I want to try everything. When the night is over we go home and eat Amy’s organic frozen pizza. It’s good… but kind of a bummer. Oh, and Lee’s article is 100% on target.

  77. I have seen the change even in the digital era in the last 7 years of wedding photography. In 2006-2008 I shot about 5 weddings a year while teaching photography full time. In the last four years I have been teaching still but doing only about 1 wedding a year. The competition is getting thick while every town has a number of people doing wedding photography.

    I have been looking at new ways of marketing my work to gain more business. SEO optimization and adwords are one way. I tried getting some exposure at a bridal fair too. SmugMug is a great asset to my workflow. Thanks for the tips in the article. Excitedly optimistic about the future.

  78. Good read. Thank you. My question is this. Though SmugMug labs are great, as far as I know, they don’t do major retouching. What happens when the couple takes the files you sold them, crops them poorly, and has them printed at a cheap lab? They then show the photos around, and are asked, “What photographer shot those?” They give your name, and people see poorly cropped prints, printed at a cheap lab. I sell my files to save time. But I have a real conflict with doing so.

    1. Hi Kent, are you looking to outsource your retouching and processing? Our labs do general color correction, but we have a hookup to ShootDotEdit, a company that specializes in volume editing work. You can find them under your Buy button, under Other Services > Post Production. Or check out their site here:

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