I’ve given myself the photographer role of a newlywed bride for the past two years: one who knows the technical details to create quality photographs, yet also grasps an understanding of what it feels like to put on the dress you’ve dreamed of, the capturing of the (late-night) crafted details, and the holy abandon I let myself fall into as Adam and I swayed to our first dance as husband and wife. One of the most poignant, cherished memories I have from my wedding day are when the employees of the venue are clearing tables and chairs, yet Adam and I are slow-dancing along with my parents to one last dance. The last dance of my wedding. I can’t remember the song. I just remember holding Adam and feeling whole in that moment.
I can also tell you the most poignant memory I have from the day after my wedding day. Actually, there are two. Oh my gosh I am exhausted I don’t want to drive for 8 hours I need a bed and a pillow and NyQuil was the first. The second, I NEED a sneak-peek of my wedding photos. My photographer graciously gave Adam and me a sneak peek, but I can tell you that the three months after were torture. Okay, not tortuous, but I will say that I left her blog up on my desktop and refreshed the page everyday. I didn’t understand the process of “after-the-wedding” for the photographer. And I don’t expect my eager newlywed couples to either. While they start their life together, I’m here helping them to be able to re-live the memories.
If we’re not double-booked (two weddings per weekend), Adam and I spend the next day re-couping and downloading images from our memory cards. There’s usually two to three images that stand out the most to me, and I choose one to feature in a sneak peek blog either for that day or the next. We are currently only booking 15 weddings a year. Fifteen weekends doesn’t sound like much, but I’ll break it down — something I recently had to do for myself as I assessed a business plan for 2014.
–> Before I begin, I believe every photographer has their own routine, their own schedule, and theirs could be the exact opposite of mine. Nothing about that is wrong, but just as photographers have different styles, they may also have different “behind-the-scenes” methods too. And that’s okay. 🙂
For each wedding, photographers can take two routes: they can outsource the rest of work (all the sorting, editing, re-touching) for a fee that frees them of their time or they can completely control their editing by taking and flipping each image themselves. Being a little OCD, I prefer having exclusive control of the final images I give my clients. This process of sorting, editing (in two different programs), blogging, and shipping can vary for each wedding, but it can take a full 40 hour work week (despite the hours spent driving to and photographing the event). A full work week may not seem fair for clients that have to wait two months for images, but then I became a business owner.
And I realized that I wasn’t just a photographer. I was my marketing manager using social networks for promotions and creating websites and blogs to showcase my work and let me clientele become familiar with who I am. I was my accountant making spreadsheets of expenses, sorting through and filing receipts, and making sure to set-aside the correct amount of tax the state would require of me at the end of the year. I was my office manager answering e-mails, scheduling client meetings, and ordering supplies online that coincide with my brand. I was a relations manager reaching out to other photographers in case of an emergency and sharing images with florists, venues, and other vendors who may want to showcase their work. And my favorite part, I was also my human resource staff meeting with clients, Skyping about wedding details, talking over wedding timelines, and reaching out to make sure each of my couples know that I value them, their vision, and the trust they’ve put in me to capture their wedding day.
I realized I had to compartmentalize my days (and evenings and weekends) between photographing weddings and other sessions like engagements and investing time into everything behind-the-scenes, so I can continue to do what I love. And what I love is photographing weddings (…and Russell Stover chocolate truffles).
But then there’s life. Creating it, living it, enjoying it. I want to be able to make my cupcakes and eat them too because they are delicious. I want to savor every bite. And I think you should too. So, if you’re one of my beloved brides or grooms, please know this: I am working hard to make sure you are 100% satisfied with the images you receive of your wedding day. I want you to see each one and smile or laugh or tear up. I want you to be so, so happy because you’ve made me happy.
And while I’m working hard at that, I want you to live. Live up these first few months as newlyweds; decorate your home together, instill traditions, tell your story, show your love.