PetaPixel

Essay: I Hate Wedding Photography

But damn, do I love my job.

Reprinted with special permission from Anne Almasy and Dedpxl.


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“I’m a wedding photographer,” I told the woman sitting across from me. She clapped her hands eagerly and beamed at me. “I LOVE wedding photography!” she squealed.

This isn’t an unusual response. It’s typically followed by, “Have you heard of this photographer? Or that photographer? I look at their blogs and I just DIE. And PINTEREST. Don’t even get me started on Pinterest!”

Yes, please. Let’s not get started on Pinterest.

Because my dirty little secret is this: I hate wedding photography. I don’t hate wedding photographers, and I certainly, truly don’t hate photographing weddings. I just hate the compulsion to obsessively, gluttonously devour wedding photographs, as if looking at another wedding photographer’s work will somehow make my own… what? Better? Prettier? More expensive?

I devoted more than a few years to pouring over other wedding photographers’ pictures, hungrily seeking inspiration. And you know what it got me? Panic attacks.

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Seriously. I used to have regular “wedding nightmares”, dreams in which I’d arrive at a wedding and my camera would catch on fire. Like, flames, shooting out of my camera. I’m pretty sure this was an internalization of the general terror I had been storing up, a Pandora’s Box of horrifying certainty that everything I was doing was wrong, and eventually my carefully-built career would spontaneously combust, just like my dream-camera.

I wish macro shots of wedding rings burned like fuel for my mind. I wish Lensbabied bouquets lit a fire in my soul.

But they don’t. In fact, they do the opposite. They suck me dry; they weigh me down. They turn this work that I love into something heavy and hard.

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Instead? I read books. I listened to music. I drank whiskey with my friends and had impromptu dance parties in my living room. I binge-watched TV shows and ate entire boxes of doughnuts. I took road trips, stayed up all night, slept in all day. I snuggled my husband, my sisters, my nephews. I wrote and drew and sewed and took pictures with my iPhone — my iPhone, for heaven’s sake!

In short: I lived. And I discovered that if I would just live my life and be a person, if I would commune with other people who live and love and ARE, inspiration grew. It blossomed out of me like herbs in the windowsill, taller overnight, greener by the hour.

And instead of incessantly reminding myself of all the ways in which I fell short — the money I wasn’t earning, the gear I wasn’t acquiring, the pictures I didn’t even know how to make — I stepped back and saw that wedding photography — this beautiful, terrible, exhausting, wonderful thing I called my job — was really a direct path to communion.

Yes, a job.

Yes, my craft.

Yes, a priceless heirloom to the families I’ve photographed.

But even more, wedding photography is an opportunity for connection. A glimpse of life. A chance for celebration. And in dismissing “style” and “approach”, I found myself embracing the soul of this work I do: the beauty and frustration and intensity of a wedding day.

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Now, when someone asks me, “Do you know So-and-So, That Amazing Wedding Photographer?” chances are I’ll say no. Not because I’m an obtuse jerk, but because I really don’t know them. The people in my life now are people I love intimately, people who add something authentic to my conversation, something broader than wedding photography. They add fresh perspective, honesty and integrity, legitimate creativity.

They add life.

I don’t know anyone in Rangefinder’s list of “photographers to watch,” but I know Emily and Tommy, who got married less than two weeks after Tommy’s mother was paralyzed by a horrible neurological disease. I don’t know who spoke at WPPI this year, but I know Jason and Jeff, who are flying all the way to New York this summer so they can officially, legally become husbands. I’m not sure how to make an award-winning print, but I knew how to photograph Betsy and Matt’s wedding in the rain, my camera wrapped in a humongous garbage bag, while a tropical storm whirled around us on a Bahaman beach.

Has my work gotten better? Well, better than what? Better than it was before? You bet. Because my competition was never “them”. My competition was, and has always been, me.

This is my life. This is all I’ve got. And I’m positive that I won’t be wishing on my death bed that I’d spent a few more hours looking at another wedding photographer’s pictures.

At the end, I just want to be grateful. Grateful for the moments I got to share, for the stories I got to tell, for the pictures I got to make. And for the people who opened their lives to me.

I hate wedding photography.

But damn, do I love my job.


About the author: Anne Almasy is a full time wedding and lifestyle photographer in Atlanta, GA. Anne is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and a DEDPXL columnist. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook. This article originally appeared on Dedpxl.


 
  • http://www.vincentmorretino.com/ fast eddie

    Great article, I can relate on many levels :) I can’t name any famous wedding photographers, can’t remember the last time I looked through a wedding shot by someone else, ignore Pintrest, love being a part of peoples lives on their big day, capturing moments that the bride and groom would never see if not for me being everywhere at once… I, too, love my job :)

  • Marc Sadowski

    This was a tremendous article! Well said and great advice! I can absolutely relate to this because I’ve felt the same thing about my own wedding photography work. Thank you for sharing this and thank you for the advice!

  • OtterMatt

    How true it is.

  • srood

    nice to express yourself , live your life is excellent advice to me too !

  • dannybuoy

    A really nice perspective. Shooting a wedding at the weekend and I’ll go into it mindful of a few of your points

  • clkphotos

    EXACTLY!!!! Same goes for portraits…. stop watching and start doing!

  • Cheng NV

    Excellent article! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • ratatata

    This goes for everything in life.

  • mary

    I have never heard of her either.

  • Eric Frame

    I’ve seen a few people with the opposite problem… Not only do they not look at other people’s work, they don’t even know how to use their camera to get a proper exposure, or ask others which lens they should buy next, because they have no idea what they need, or why or if they even need it. And then they go and charger people to shoot their wedding. They need to be publicly shamed.

  • Yen Jonson

    i Remembered my 1st photo gig few years ago, it was a wedding. After that day, I called my mum and cried and told her how hard and tiring it was… to earn money… and to do one of ur passions.. tnx for this! :)

  • Sarah BK

    Great article. While I don’t work as a photographer, I can still very much relate to this. I do spend many hours looking at the work of others, and it can be demeaning sometime as I feel as I may never be as good. I must admit however, I have indeed learnt a lot and been inspired by observing the work of others. I’m not sure if after reading this article I feel I should stop admiring the photographs of others, but it is nice to know I’m not the only one that feels that way when I do.

    The internet is a great place to be sucked into the never-ending browsing of others’ photography, and many photographers try as much as possible to spread their work all over the internet (and this I can understand is done for many logical reasons) so it’s almost too difficult to avoid. I think this happens for various other things too – numerous adverts, pages sharing quotes, people sharing blogs etc. But while it does serve very positive purposes, such as advertising their photographic services to the wider public and increasing potential clients, like everything in life, it can also bring photographers especially down in a way as after all, it does almost seem like one has to compete! And it can take up almost too much of our time if we are to follow EVERYTHING…

  • Scott M.

    I have shot exactly one event. It was hard to do and very stressful.The photos were great and the client was very happy. But. Jeeze. I admire all you wedding/event photographers out there, you really earn your money. Great article.

  • Daniel Pryce

    It gets easier with time. Once you know what shots you need to get and how to do it, it becomes a breeze.

  • joebuissink

    Love you Anne!! Glad you found yourself :)

  • Lisa Atkinson

    “Comparison is the thief of joy” – so true. I have also stopped looking at other photographer’s work and it’s incredibly liberating!

  • Drew Hoover

    Yes. 100% it can be paralyzing to drool over others’ work. So many variables. So little time. Be you and be creative and make something great where you are with what you’ve got.

  • Christiaan Lowe-Photography

    OMG it’s Joe Bu …. erm I mean nice comment dude !

  • etegration

    Nice read.

  • jkantor267

    I hate what passes for Wedding Photography nowadays.

  • mtcoz

    How timely is this article? I’m just about to photograph my 28th and last wedding of the season tomorrow and this week I’ve spent time dedicated to “unliking” about 50-60 photographers pages I was previously following. Even guys that I admire who create jaw dropping images, gone…Each wedding, e-session or shoot is unique in its own way. I too, love my job…

  • Vin Weathermon

    I see her point…best to gain enough experience and then use what you’ve learned. Fussing over the next latest trend, expensive lens, etc. is stress you don’t need…tough enough to keep the wedding party from falling over drunk before you get your formals done.

  • Samik ‘Jonak’ Ghosh

    Well said. Being a full-time wedding photographers I can relate to this. I do follow a few of the great wedding photographers of out time but yes, I do that to keep myself updated with the trend.

  • http://somerset-wedding-photographer.co.uk Belinda McCarthy

    Excellent article, I love the sentiment and agree wholeheartedly! Thanks for sharing :)

  • davidhollier

    Hmm new venue research and customer requests require you look at other tog’s work.

  • aimeegoliver

    my Aunty Kaylee got
    a new green Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Convertible by working from a home
    computer… learn the facts here now works77.ℂℴm

  • Courtney Navey

    In addition to disliking Pinterest can we add Facebook and Instagram to that list (and for the same reasons as disliking Pinterest)? What she’s written is exactly why I intentionally shut the door on “Keeping up with the Joneses” and took back my personal life. Such a great perspective on being a wedding photographer.

  • Lukas Prochazka

    You can be inspired with other work, it’s all in you how you look at others, with jelous eyes or with respect…It’s all about personality…

  • Mark Blumer

    Boom

  • Sara Parker

    <3

  • Srkeegan

    Anybody else have a spouse with a 9 to 5 job that gets pissed if they see you sleeping in during the week? Seems like it is common to have resentment between spouses who have jobs where they have to report someplace on a daily basis.

  • TheWalrus

    I actually do hate wedding photography. That’s why I quit :)

  • Mike Keller

    The trick is to say “this is how I photograph weddings.” If you want super-elegant shots, elaborately-staged photos, photos that require assistants to hold reflectors and style your hair between shots, don’t ask me. I can recommend someone else for that. But if you like wedding photos in the style or technique that I use, I’m happy to photograph your wedding. Because you’re hiring me, not that other person, so please understand you’re getting my skill set, not someone else’s.

  • Mike Keller

    It’s often better to look at other photographers’ work in a different field than what you’re working in. For instance, instead of looking at other wedding photographers’ work, look at other portrait photographers or photojournalists to see interesting and different, but useful, views and techniques.

  • Charles R. Lawson

    I wouldn’t say I can’t name a famous wedding photographer….Monte Zucker, Clay Blackmore, and Hanson Fong come to mind, but on the other hand I totally agree that we need to focus more on the events WE capture rather than devouring someone else’s cliches.

  • http://www.jessdewes.com Jess

    Thank you so, so much. I am also a wedding photographer and I couldn’t share your feelings about it any better than you have here. Excellent work and I’ll be carrying the spirit of this great essay with me to both of my weddings this weekend. All the best to you!

  • Gwylan Goddard

    This is fantastic. All of your words really hit home for me, I often find myself wasting too many hours comparing myself to others and sitting in front of a screen wowing at what “they can do”. I need to constantly remind myself of why I’m here doing what I do, and that to find true satisfaction we need to just live life as you suggest and find inspiration everywhere. Thank you for this heartfelt and very true story of how us photographers need to keep moving forward!

  • Smarten_Up

    I hate weddings…so medieval, the exchange of property from father to husband…something that should be truly private, between two people. And not a public “event.” Guess that is why I hate wedding photography.

    And yes, I am married, with only parents present, and between my semi-pro father-in- aw and myself, we have zero wedding photographs. Married more for the health care plan, actually. Commitment is something that happens daily, over and over, and not at a church or a party years before.

  • Scott

    I don’t photograph weddings myself but I’m curious what you mean by that statement?

    You mean the photojournalist style rather then primarily the old fashioned posed photos?

  • NDT001

    You got married for a health care plan? Thats just sad.
    If you cant celebrate a significant life event with loved ones Thats just sad.
    If you got married for convenience and not for love, thats just really sad.

  • Smarten_Up

    Not everything need be done your way, NDT001.

    I am sad for you, for swallowing all the hype.

    We were already happily “married” for 12 years, and still are for 34.

    Again, a wedding does not make a marriage, it needs to be remade daily.

    Personally, I resent the state and church defining our relationship.

    Re: Property, please see: chattel, dowry, child marriage, marital rape, etc

    “Marriage” is right up there among the problems of human society.

    “Weddings” are just the ceremony. Our was 10 minutes in city hall, had a nice lunch, went shopping.

    “Wedding Industry” are those that profit from these ceremonies.

    Take most of that cash and invest it–in education, your children, your home, your retirement.

    Keep the wedding photographers unemployed, I say.

    Please also see: free union and marriage privatization.

    Enjoy your life, I enjoy mine.

  • Sébastien D’Amour

    Great article. A friend posted this on FB and I took the time to read it. I have came to the exact same conclusion about 3 years ago. I always try to have a human element in my wedding photography since the union of two human beings is the reason we are celebrating. Not the flowers, not the dress, not the rings and not the shoes. I get sick to my stomach when I see wedding photographers showcasing more detail shots than storytelling shots.

    Cheers to your conclusion and keep on living. Life is great isn’t it?

  • Lukas Prochazka

    that is true… I am not experienced in this and need to much learn so inpiration is sometimes struggle, but what I know so far…you need to be ready like ninja because you never know where from that inspiration jump off and it can miss you

  • http://www.fabulous-femme.com/ Fabulous-Femme

    Haha … great read :-)

    I love wedding photography. Isn’t it a great thing and privilege to document a couples big day. Everyone is excited. Emotion! And a full day of small and big things happening …