A question that I quite often get asked by potential clients is ‘What would happen if you are too ill to shoot our wedding?’ This is something that needs to be addressed and I highly recommend that you cover this in your contract. Make sure you state what would happen financially as well as what you are prepared to do in terms of finding a replacement. We all need to have an emergency plan in place should something happen to us and we are physically unable to photograph a wedding. Most of the photographers I know are a hardy bunch and have shot weddings with broken hands, on crutches or with the worst kind of stomach bugs. However there may well come a time when it is impossible for you to do your job.
One of the Farmers was recently in this situation. Having woken up feeling ill on the Friday before a wedding, she was seeking advice in the Facebook group on coping with a bad virus and having to go to work. Unfortunately over the day, she felt worse and ended up in hospital with suspected appendicitis. By 11pm she was facing going in for emergency surgery and needed someone to cover the wedding she was booked for the next day. As it was a Saturday in August, most of the Farmers were booked and I could see she was getting stressed. I had kept the weekend free as we planned a party on the Sunday to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. I was getting ready for bed when I saw her distress call and told my husband that I thought I should help her. Yes, I had loads planned for the Saturday but then we thought about our wedding all those years ago and how devastated we would have been if our photographer couldn’t have recorded it all for us. So I stepped in for her and shot the wedding. I was aware that our hard earned reputations are a delicate thing that need protecting and so knowing that you have good people to turn to in an emergency situation is very reassuring and one of our ‘hidden assets’.
The support in the Farmers Facebook group goes way beyond the odd emergency. We have all used it as a place to get a virtual pat on the back, have a private rant, share an achievement, share resources or talk through personal woes. It is vital when you work in isolation so much of the time that you have a safe place to share what is on your mind, be it the good or the bad stuff. Building your own community and support system will see you through most things that this career has to throw at you. Although being a wedding photographer is very fulfilling, there are times when you need that kinship. Just knowing that you have someone to talk to or call upon when you need them, makes a big difference especially when something unpredictable happens.
So how do you build this support system? Facebook is a great place to start. The way we use Facebook has evolved and we now post less and less in the public forum and more in groups. There are three options in groups… A Public Group that anyone can see and join; A Closed Group that will show up in listings with visible members but you must request to join to see the content; A Secret Group that you will not see anywhere and must be invited to join. Finding groups to join is a little complicated. Go to the search box in Facebook by clicking on Browse at the bottom of the top left section on your Home page. Then overwrite whatever suggestion Facebook has and you must use ‘groups’ as the first word. ‘Groups about Photography’ will produce pretty relevant results that are either local to you or your friends are already members of. ‘Groups my Friends are in’ is also a good start if you are connected to some photographers already. Don’t be put off if it says a group is closed, it is a simple request to whoever does the admin to join. Some groups, like the Farmers one have a certain criteria like you must have been to the Farm but you can read the About statements. Or start your own group, it is very easy to do and could be for photographers local to you or that you are already connected to.
Once in a Facebook group, don’t be a lurker ~ Get involved! And always, always make real life connections with people. The Farmers group is extra strong as we try to meet up when we can. Many of them have made an extra effort to meet those local to them or have formed their own second shooting teams. Attending industry events, wedding fairs or meet-ups in your local area is a great way to connect with other photographers. The more connections you have, the more support you will have when you really need it.
The next Photography Farm is 24-26th of September, followed by a special Farm Elements Getting Ready For Winter 17th & 18th of October in London. Both are getting pretty booked up but there are currently spaces.