So I started putting all my energy into shooting my weddings for publication. I tried to picture what the magazine editors would be looking for, what the current trends were, what colors were "too last season" so I could try and avoid working with anything that wouldn't end up on a wedding blog somewhere.
I was unhappy. I felt less creative. I felt boxed in to what "the editors" wanted instead of what made me feel satisfied as a photographer and made my clients happy. And it took me entirely too long to figure out why I was antsy shooting this way - I mean, it makes sense to want to have your work featured, right? It would bring me more referrals and more clients, right? So I started submitting anything and everything and with each rejection letter I felt crushed. Disappointed in my work. It wasn't fun.
A few months ago, a potential bride e-mailed me about shooting her wedding. We passed several e-mails back and forth and she described a beautiful, detailed wedding at a local venue that I know is just gorgeous. We made plans to meet a few weeks later and I asked about how they met, their love story, their families, etc. But the only thing they wanted to talk about was the possibility of getting published. She asked specifically about photo rights for her wedding coordinator who has "great connections in the publishing industry," and reiterated the need for tons of detail shots. She told me all about the speciality flowers that would be flown in and the rented, vintage furniture she snagged.
I assured her I would photograph all her details, but I really wanted to talk about their portrait time together and how we could make the most of it. They asked for "the soft, romantic kind you see in magazines" and I started to feel anxious. I do shoot soft, romantic portraits, but I do it because it shows the authentic, genuine affection of my couple and not because it was on the cover of The Knot.
The Monday after we ended our meeting, I sent a follow-up e-mail and never heard from them again. But after a few days, I felt relieved. I didn't want to shoot weddings just because they're beautiful or detailed or have the potential to get published somewhere. I love to shoot weddings because I love people, I love people in love with each other, I love being a part of such an incredible event that is filled to the brim with joy.
Getting published is just a bonus. It's a few extra sprinkles on the cake. I love beautiful weddings and I love brides who pour detail into their days. But getting published is not the main thing - that's what styled shoots are for. And after three years of shooting weddings, I've learned that the best way to love my clients is to shoot for them, not for an editor.
Clients, I love you. I love your stories. I love your weddings. Let's keep at it together.