How are you surviving wedding season? Are you on top of your editing, skipping around town meeting friends for Frappachinos and hosting BBQs on your terrace? Are you posting the odd witty quip on your social media in between blogging all those delightful summer weddings that you have been shooting? Well if you are then I salute you because almost every wedding photographer that I know is barely surviving right now. They are on the wedding juggernaut of endless shooting, traveling and editing with no time in between for anything vaguely resembling a social life. So here are my top survival tips for busy wedding photographers and I hope they help. Feel free to add your own to the comments….
1. Plan, plan, plan….. It is tempting in those quieter months to take every booking going without considering the logistics. By planning out your year and looking at what is also in your diary, you can avoid desperate dashes from one end of the country to another so that you can cover double or triple bookings over one weekend. I use Light Blue business management software for photographers and it really helps with the planning as well as the accounting side of things. There is even an app so that I can add in my expenses when I’m out and about.
2. Allow for contingencies….. Even with the best planning in the world, things can go wrong. I have just journied up to Scotland for a wedding and on the way up, the trains all stopped in Carlisle with no further trains North that night. I had to get a taxi with some fellow passengers all the way to Glasgow, so was very glad that I traveled up the day before and had enough cash on me to cover the unexpected fare. My general rule is that if a venue is more than 2.5 hours away, I will arrive the evening before ~ even if that means battling the M25 on a Friday evening.
3. Factor in some time off….. If you are looking at a relentless schedule of weekend after weekend of shooting with nothing to look forward to in between but a mountain of editing, well sorry to say but you only have yourself to blame. How about next year leaving at least one weekend in peek season free so you can plan a well deserved mini break or even a super lazy staycation? It will give you something to work towards when things are crazy busy and leave you refreshed instead of utterly frazzled right in the middle of your busy time.
4. Be prepared for the great British weather….. It’s the one thing that you can do nothing about and I’m a big fan of embracing whatever the weather throws at us but I will also be prepared for most situations. I apply sun cream if it looks even remotely like it might be warm. I use Smidge, the daddy of midge/mosquito repellents for the inevitable dusk attacks. I have a boot full of umbrellas if I drive to a wedding, whatever the weather report is. Even if your clients might not mind a bit of rain on the day and are up for some romantic rainy images, your camera will not thank you for getting it too wet. Either get someone to cover you with an umbrella or stick a couple of these in your kit bag. Op/Tech Rainsleeve – Twin Pack
5. Use the train as your office….. Despite my slight train disaster last week, I have been really making the most of travel time and opting to take the train if I can rather than driving to weddings. I decided that the travel time could be better spent than me screeching along to the power ballads on my car stereo. Now I put the earphones in and use the travel time to get some work done whilst the train takes the strain. Loads of them now have power points and wifi so why not take advantage? You can use the new Lightroom App that easily lets you cull the previews on your ipad and then syncs with your main computer when you get home. Or invest in a portable HyperDrive that lets you insert your cards, download the images and cull them if you want before uploading to your main computer once you are back home. If you are shooting back to back weddings, the last thing you want is to be downloading cards for hours when you get in. Adam simply uses a Four-Bay Card Reader and leaves his cards uploading overnight. If like us, you use Lightroom’s Convert to DNG option on import then you will know that downloading can take a while.
6. Preventing the wedding hangover….. You know that feeling the day after a wedding where you feel like you have been run over by a steam roller, have a blinding headache and the energy of a sloth? Well not only could you be dehydrated but you are most likely suffering from lost electrolytes. Our bodies lose vital salts, glucose and minerals when we sweat and run around all day a wedding, but there are ways to lessen the impact. You are going to like this tip…. have a bacon sandwich or cooked breakfast with some salty aspect to it on the morning of the wedding. Easy if like me you stay in a lot of Premier Inns ~ I do love that breakfast buffet!. Then when you get in have toast with peanut butter or digestive biscuits and a banana. These wonder foods all have the right combination of saltiness and sweetness and I guarantee you will not feel as bad the next day. Try to remember to drink water as often as you can throughout a wedding and a hot bath when you get in or the following morning will ease those aching muscles.
7. Outsource….. When it all gets too much, look at what jobs you could realistically outsource or streamline. We have never had so much available help from photo editing companies like Fotofafa to amazing album design software like Smart Albums that means you can put together a fabulous album design in well under an hour. Or hand it all over to someone else that you train up. Yes, I know us photographers are control freaks and like to do everything just so but think about this ~ the only time you are actually making money is when you are shooting, so maybe some of the other stuff can go to someone else.
8. Have a support network….. They say a problem shared is a problem halved and just having someone to offload your feelings and frustrations onto can really make a difference. There are wedding photographers all over the UK feeling just as frazzled as you, so make sure you have somewhere you can rant and rave in private about how stressed you are. That stuff should never be in a public place and your non industry friends will simply not get how stressful this time of year can be for us. Private Facebook groups are brilliant for this or google hangouts. The last one we had with the Farmers was on this very topic and some participants even managed to edit at the same time. An internet wine and a whine with some others in the same boat as you can keep you sane until you have actual time to go to an actual pub with normal people!
I hope these help you right now and good luck to all the wedding photographers out there doing their very best to survive.