Confucius once said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Well, the journey of a thousand weddings begins with one photograph. We asked a handful of wedding photographers to share an early photo that represents their humble beginnings, and a current photo that represents where they are today. Not surprisingly, many of the photographers turned us down.
Apparently, sharing your vintage photos is not cool.
Not only did today’s featured photographers share an old photo and a new photo, they took the time to offer some sage advice.
Practice, practice practice! Read a ton. Shoot a ton. Find amazing mentors. Never take your work so seriously that you don’t see room for improvement. Don’t shoot with Fish Fry signage.
It’s been 7 years since my first wedding back on 08-08-08 and this request actually forced me to crack open that ancient folder of images to see how terrible my photography was. It took a couple years of using mediocre equipment, bad photoshop actions, and lack of training to be able to perfect my shooting and editing style. Lately I feel I’m at the top of my game and my ability to create the most amazing images and loving every image I produce.
I was told by some to “stop, just quit now….some people were not cut out for this…able to do this….” I had a friend that let me tag along with her to shoots and let me practice. For that act of kindness and friendship and support I will be forever grateful.
But the next few years I was left to face the journey alone. Alone to figure out everything from how to work my camera, how to make a profit, how to attract clients and how to run a business. NONE of it was easy. None of it was cheap. I was pulling 14-16 hour work days behind the computer youtubing every question I could, stalking the blog of photographers I admired. In the off time I would practice with my camera and take any and every class that could help me on this journey.
After years of building myself, my confidence, my portfolio….I am now a full time international wedding photographer based here in Cape May NJ. I went from 4.32 cents in my account, asking my family for money to buy just the bare necessities to a 6 figure business. In that time I also got married and had two perfect little boys.
You have to want it and want it more than anything. You have to work as hard as everyone else, then work harder. You have to learn early on that comparison will kill you, copying will kill you, and thinking you have nothing left to learn will kill you. Help others on their journey while you are on yours. Always remain humble. And ask ALL the questions you have….because at one point, the people that have the answers now, didn’t always have them…they too had to ask.
Sarah and Rachel
Sarah and I started the business during our final year of college by combining the equipment we had (to avoid loans!) and set out on this new adventure we called LinneaLiz Photography. We clearly had a lot to learn! We started with the basics — a Nikon D80, D300, a 50mm 1.8, 24-70 and a 70-200… and we shot JPG! (What were we thinking??) The two of us were constantly learning and improving, pushing each other in areas we were weak. Sarah is much more technical and had a drive to understand why her equipment worked the way it did. Although I definitely care about the technical aspect, I gravitated towards the design aspect of photography. Where our couple’s are positioned and how they interact, if their hands look awkward, do they feel comfortable, etc. Sarah is a big picture person, and I notice details. We both have strengths and weaknesses that have helped us learn and grow from one another. Our work got better with each season, and 8 years later, we’re still learning and improving! We recently launched our new brand, Sarah and Rachel, and couldn’t be more excited about where the future will take us.
Artistic growth does not happen overnight. Technicals skills are developed over thousands and thousands of shutter-snaps. The subtle nuances of professionalism and creativity come with experience, and experience comes with doing the thing you don’t know how to do until you know how to do it!
These photographers started by picking up a camera and taking photos that, in five or ten years, they would not necessarily be proud of. But they’re proud of the progress they have made, the careers they have build, and the countless clients they have captured. Where are you on the path?
Have an awesome old photo to share? We’d love to see it! Feel free to share your own examples of old and new work in the comments below.
About the author: Levi Wiggins is one half of Harder+Wiggins, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee. He works with his wife Shayna as a photography writer. This article was also published at KISS University.