Ever wonder what really goes on behind the scenes in photography? The photography industry can be glamorized as beautiful clients, never-ending streams of coffee, and continuous photo opportunities around the world and into the depths of unexplored areas of one’s hometown. The reality of photography though lies in the shadows of these preconceived notions. While those are all very real aspects of photography, there is also a lot of sweat carrying around, setting up and tearing down the gear. There is continuous marketing and learning outside of the photo shoots. In all the glamor a professional photographer is continuously working behind the scenes.
It begins with learning photography and all the different types of photography on one’s own time. Wedding photography is different than commercial photography or documentary photography. First learning to fully control the camera and understanding what each setting needs to be for the type of shoot can take time and practice. Then adding in elements of light and knowing how to manipulate the light to fall softly across the clients face without casting harsh and unflattering shadows. It is understanding that each location has a different light that could change from gorgeous light to severely unflattering within a couple of inches.
Then comes the marketing aspect. It is more than putting up a beautiful website and clients just happen upon it. Google has mostly replaced the Yellow Pages and it has evolved tremendously since its creation. A photographer needs the skillset to optimize their photography website for Google to be able to rank it higher to make it easier for potential clients to find without going into the scary depths that is page 10 on Google.
The best marketing tends to be word of mouth and referrals. It’s constant talking to strangers everywhere you go. It’s more than just selling them on a photography portfolio but genuinely caring about them as a person. Many times, especially in weddings, a photographer may take on a task that doesn’t technically fall within their job description but they do it anyways to keep the day running smoothly for the bride, groom and their family. Marketing photography isn’t just selling a skillset, it’s creating relationships and expanding the community. Most clients tend to become friends or good acquaintances after a while.
A photographer doesn’t typically work the traditional 9 to 5, a lot of the work is done in between shoots. Unpacking gear, processing + developing many photos, keeping up with a website, maintaining communication with clients and preparing for the next shoot are a typical day’s work. There isn’t a whole lot of room for sick days or personal vacations unless it happens to fall in between shoots and even then there is always more work left to be done. A photographer’s work is their lifestyle. It doesn’t turn on when they clock in or turn off when they get home. It is every day observing the beauty of the world and the people’s lives filling it.