Photographers, Take Risks Early!
A few years ago when I started Henington Photography, I was thrilled when I booked my first paying clients. I’d worked hard up to that point studying light, composition, equipment, shooting free/discounted weddings for friends, and second shooting for other photographers. I desperately wanted to do a good job and make my paying clients happy. Early on I didn’t have a clue what my “style” should be or who I wanted to be as a photographer. All I knew was that I didn’t want to screw up! For my first year or so, I played it safe. I was a real photographer, taking photos of couples and people were paying me to do it! I was living my dream, but I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I thought I would. The photos I was taking for my couples were simple, bright, and clean. I was posing people according to the basic rules of posing that I’d memorized from watching tons of tutorials. Most importantly, my couples always seemed happy with my work. I would apply a nice filmy preset in
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The work that inspired me was the stuff that was pushing the boundaries of photography—not just wedding photography, but photography in general. I was inspired by images that were surprising, geometric, artistic, and bold. I was taking photos that were pretty, but also safe. Not that pretty wedding photos are a bad thing! But deep inside of me, I didn’t want to be just another wedding photographer who took perfectly posed, pretty photos. I wanted to be a great photographer who happened to photograph weddings. I was afraid, however, that no clients would book me if I went that route. After all, the stuff getting published in the magazines is not exactly the artistic, edgy stuff. Around this time I had a discussion with an artist friend of mine who gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received. He told me that I needed to take risks early, while I was still new—to be bold and not be afraid to fail over and over again while I still had the chance—because once my business matured, my brand would be solidified and it would be a lot harder to change. I didn’t need any more convincing. I decided from that point on I was going to risk it all and begin taking photos that I loved.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t book any more clients once I began to show my new work, especially since I’d have to integrate my new stuff in with my old. But the opposite was true. Once I started to produce work that I was passionate about and that pushed me creatively, my business grew and my clients were more excited about their photos. I was happier with my work too. For the first time in a long time, I was excited to import my photos into Lightroom and start editing. I was producing work that I was proud to show and the more I took photos that I loved, the more people connected with my work.
The truth, however, is that I know I haven’t arrived. I haven’t mastered wedding photography. I haven’t realized my creative potential, and most likely, neither have you. In order to continue to enjoy being a photographer and to continue to wow my clients, I know that I have to continue to grow and evolve. Otherwise, being a wedding photographer will just become another monotonous job and my work will grow stale and dated. My advice to wedding photographers