Over the last few days, I've taken some time to reflect on 2012 and my work as a wedding photographer. Yes, it's getting close to mid January, New Years has long past, and you may think it's a little late to be retrospective, right?
My choice to become a full time wedding photographer happened several years ago. I've always been entrepreneurial, I love people, and I enjoy dabbling in lots of different challenges at once. Owning a wedding photography business fit my personality perfectly. I stay engaged with people every time I work and occasionally continue some of those relationships beyond the job itself. I'm constantly challenged in dozens of areas with marketing, salesmanship, accounting, and creativity in my shooting and editing. In fact, there are few days where my job actually feels like work.
Of course, running a photography business is not a piece of cake. Anyone who has worked as a photographer could probably share about the stresses that come with the job. Any given paycheck is uncertain. I may go 3 or 4 months without booking a single job and then book half a dozen in the following weeks. I may dump hundreds of dollars into a marketing plan and see nothing come of it. I have to plan my budget from a year out to make sure I'm spending wisely.
Beyond the uncertain financial aspect of the lifestyle, there have been plenty of personal frustrations that come with the business. Photography used to be a fun way to escape, to stretch my creative spirit. Before my business, I routinely went out and shot for the sake of capturing something beautiful. Now, it's become hard to pick up a camera if I'm not getting paid to do it. At group events with friends, instead of making memories which everyone can enjoy later, I leave my camera at home. I try and avoid the expectation that I should be taking pictures because “David's the professional.”
Still, as each week passes, I love what I do. As I thought over 2012 and why I've enjoyed my job so much, I realized only half of my enjoyment comes from the work as a photographer. Far better than the daily interaction with people and the challenge of the job is the lifestyle photography gives.
By being a wedding photographer, I am only obligated to be at work 30-40 days of the year. Obviously I put in far more hours throughout the year, but those are the number of days that have a strict schedule. When I don't have a wedding or engagement shoot to be at, I have the freedom to choose where and when I work. If photography is slow, I have the flexibility to pursue other business or financial ventures. Or, I can spend my time in other important areas of life.
The reason I have just reflected on this last year over the past few days is that today, on Jan 11th, my holiday season is only now coming to a close. Instead of spending one week for the holidays, I've spent four. During 2012, my father developed pancreatic cancer. Because of the flexibility my job I have been able to temporarily move from Charleston, SC to Dallas, TX and spend an entire month with every member of my family. I haven't lost any business. I haven't missed out on one job or client. Instead, I've gained some of the richest memories of my family together. That is why I love my job.