Wedding season is upon us, and this is the time of year where I really struggle with what I want to do vs what I need to do.
I want to shoot weddings. I love, love. Between 2018 & 2019, I've probably gotten 10+ requests to shoot a wedding. I love looking through the last few that I have done. Remembering that day and the joy my friends experienced and how happy they were is such a great feeling to be able to relive.
However, I just can't do weddings right now for multiple reasons.
Work. I recently moved to Grand Rapids and started a job I've been looking for, for a long time. I'm back at GVSU (which if you know me, I absolutely love) and am doing something related to my education and something that I actually enjoy doing. This position aligns with some of my career goals and where I've always wanted to be. However, with a full time job, photographing weddings is a whole new time commitment. It can be another full time job within itself. Most people think, it's just one day, you can suck it up and get through it every once in a while. Yes, true, it's a long and exhausting day that I could handle and have handled in the past. But there's also all of the hours that go into it after. Backing up photos, culling, editing, and narrowing them down for a couples final gallery is SO time consuming. I sit on a computer 8 hours a day at work, the last thing I want to do every day is come home and spend another couple of hours staring at a computer screen to try to get a couples wedding gallery sent in a timely manner after my eyes are already shot (not to mention other galleries to get through as well). Some people say, well you could just work on them on the weekends then! Easier said than done when summer consists of weddings, portrait sessions, events, birthdays, grad parties, friends, the lake, and my sanity! It's a big commitment, and one I just can't handle right now as much as I wish I could. I could easily work 60+ hours a week between work and photography work. Right now, I just want to enjoy life! I want to be able to relax and rejuvenate when I need to, and be able to travel when I want to.
Mental health. This is something that I've really been trying to focus on over the last year or two. I realized how important it is for my mental and physical health to be able to say "no" in certain situations. My anxiety has really gotten worse over time and when I think about photographing a wedding, I get all excited, and then it's all down hill from there once my anxiety hits. I think about all of the what if scenarios even if the wedding is 9 months away. It has caused me extreme stress and anxiety to where I literally feel like I could throw up the days leading up to and morning of (is this how a bride sometimes feels?). I seem to get a lot more easily overwhelmed these days. This is something I know I need to take control of and manage before taking on another wedding. I also have been trying to take more time to exercise, do yoga, and cook healthier meals more often.
What if I get sick and physically can't work? I don't have a huge network or back up people available to cover a wedding on such short notice.
I don't have a designated and go-to second shooter. Someday though!
I'm a portrait and lifestyle photographer, not a wedding photographer.
I coordinated weddings for 3 years, which meant I spent my summers working every weekend, sometimes all weekend, including classes and normal work during the week. I sometimes went 2 weeks working literally every day. I love having my weekends off now and working a regular M-F, 8-5 job. I can do things that I want and spend time with those that matter on the weekends and it is SO rejuvenating.
I missed a good friends wedding because I committed to photographing another friends wedding before she set a date and they happened to be on the same day. Even though in this case they were both childhood friends, I hated to have to choose. This made me realize I do not want to miss something important because of work. I value being able to show up and be there for my friends and family.
Yes, there is a huge difference between coordinating a wedding and photographing a wedding. Coordinating a wedding is literally just that day. I know 90% of what to expect because of my awesome planners who have everything organized and ready for me to execute. Once 11pm hits, my work is done and life continues on. When 11pm hits after photographing a wedding, all of the countless hours of what's to come linger over my head for weeks after. With photographing a wedding, you always have to be watching, looking, and on your toes. You never know when a photographable moment will happen.
It's SO hard for me to turn down a wedding. My heart hurts, but at the same time, I know it is the right thing for my mental health right now and I feel relief once I get over the guilt of saying no.
So, what does the future look like?
I LOVE weddings, I mean I worked in the industry for years, how could I not? I would eventually love to become a full time wedding photographer. I experience so much joy the day of a wedding, it makes my heart so happy! First, life needs to settle down. It would be a huge commitment right now. I would want to first get married, have a house, and be financially stable since I'm sure it would be a slow start. I would also want to make sure I would be able to make time for family and friends based on their schedules too. So no, weddings aren't totally out of the equation yet my friends! Just not at the current moment :)
Thank you for understanding!