Today is my five year anniversary as a wedding photographer and I'm looking through the engagement shoot images I took on Monday, at the very gorgeous West Wittering beach, with a couple whose wedding I'm shooting next year. If you'd told me five years ago that I'd be spending my Monday afternoon with my toes in soft sand, hanging out with two super cool people and their dog as my job? I wouldn't have believed you.
That probably sounds a bit silly because five years is actually quite a long time and there's a lot of people out there, many wedding photographers, who have gone much further in a shorter time, but for me it was a slower build. For some reason it took me a long time to appreciate that I was actually good at this (and it still feels a bit strange and arrogant to say that, but if you can't back yourself how can you expect anyone to put their faith in you to shoot the most important day of their lives?), and really give it my all as a career.
I went into the first wedding with the view that if I didn't enjoy it, no problem, I never needed to do it again, but secretly hoping that I would love it. I'd been warned off shooting weddings by other photographers in courses and workshops I'd done over the years, so I was apprehensive and accepted I might find it too hard. But at that wedding, I distinctly remember thinking "I'm meant to do this". Despite that, I didn't dare to believe that it would be my full time career one day, I just thought it might just be something I did if people asked me to, keeping my day job and doing it on the side. Ultimately that all comes down to a lack of confidence and a fear that if I really tried, I might fail. But people kept asking me to shoot their weddings and I couldn't really avoid it anymore, so at that point I did start to be proactive and get my portfolio together.
Slowly, over time, I gained confidence in myself and my attitude changed without me really noticing; it wasn't overnight and I still wouldn't consider myself to be the most business-minded person out there (I'm not one for the hard sell, you know?), but I'm good at what I do and I absolutely love it, and I can tell you that I am so thankful to be where I am today.
Although at times I kick myself that I didn't actively pursue this career sooner and I didn't give myself the tools to really succeed as early as I could have, I don't think I would change anything because I believe this is how it was meant to work out for me. But, if I was to offer any advice to someone starting out in photography or any creative venture, I would say: don't be scared to fail. Put yourself out there, know your worth and give yourself the best chance possible to do something you truly care about.
Here are a few from that magical Monday at work...