15 Lessons from a Decade in Wedding Photography

Wedding photography can be a rewarding yet challenging profession. Here's what you need to know about navigating the world of wedding photography, based on valuable insights gained over a decade in the industry.

Coming to you from Luke Cleland, this insightful video highlights 15 crucial lessons learned from 10 years of experience as a wedding photographer. One key takeaway is that 99% of your current competition won't be around in a decade. This fact can alleviate the pressure of comparing yourself to others, as many will drop out of the industry for various reasons. Understanding this can help you focus more on your journey rather than being distracted by the perceived competition.

Another significant point Cleland emphasizes is the importance of not playing the comparison game. While it might seem like everyone is succeeding faster than you, it's vital to keep your head down and concentrate on your growth. He shares how ignorance of industry trends initially slowed his progress. However, a balanced approach of not obsessing over others while staying informed about industry standards can help you develop your unique style and business practices effectively.

Cleland also stresses the necessity of being organized and responsive. Early in his career, he lost potential clients due to slow response times and a lack of a clear pricing structure. By establishing a consistent system for handling inquiries and pricing, you can avoid missing out on business opportunities. Furthermore, he warns against falling for quick-fix solutions or promises of instant success. Genuine progress takes time and effort, and anyone offering a shortcut is likely not providing a sustainable path to success.

Learning from others and continuously improving your craft is another vital lesson. Cleland admits that his initial reluctance to learn from others and his arrogance in thinking he knew everything were significant setbacks. Embracing continuous learning and seeking feedback can propel your business forward. It's important to stay open to new techniques and strategies to keep improving. Cleland found that when he prioritized making his work and client experience exceptional, he didn't need to rely heavily on advertising. Quality work will speak for itself and drive word-of-mouth referrals. He also encourages bringing in outside perspectives to critique your work, as this can offer new insights and help you grow as a photographer.

Cleland's advice extends to the practical aspects of running a business, such as the realization that you need less gear than you might think. The emphasis should be on client experience and delivering high-quality service rather than on accumulating the latest equipment. Understanding this can help you focus your resources more effectively. He also touches on the emotional rollercoaster that comes with running your own business. The highs and lows are part of the journey, and perseverance is key. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Cleland.

If you would like to continue to learn about wedding photography, be sure to check out "How To Become A Professional Commercial Wedding Photographer With Lee Morris and Patrick Hall!"

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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