One of the few ways left for people to make money from photography is to shoot weddings. Except for shooting a few for friends or relatives, I don’t shoot weddings. Here’s why:
The Shot List.
Every wedding will have a shot list. Either it’s a list of images you know you should shoot or it’s an actual list you get from the bride, her mother, the wedding designer or whoever. The point is that there isn’t any art in that. You are simply a hired hand, paid by the hour (maybe) and expected to shoot what everyone thinks are the wedding photos they want.
If you are going to make a record of your wedding, of course you want a nice picture of the cutting of the cake. You’ll expect a photo of the bride and groom with the rings. You’ll be disappointed not to have a photo of the bride’s maids or the groom’s men.
All that is important documentation but it’s not what makes a memory or a feeling.
Here’s a candid photo I took at a wedding. This was not on the shot list. How could it be? No one foresaw this moment.
Also, the person in the image wasn’t aware I was shooting it. Stealth is important to capture real feeling. If I had let her know I was taking the photo, she’d have posed. Or worse, reached over for a friend so they could mug for the camera together. The resulting image would have been instantly forgotten.
Instead, I have an image that captures a moment and a feeling that could not have been planned and was not staged. It’s honest. Honest photos are the ones everyone remembers. They are the ones a bride will make sure she has in her book.
Unfortunately, that’s not what wedding photographers shoot and that’s not what brides think they want. So everyone ends up bound by the shot list like prisoners in a Gulag.
That’s why I don’t want to do weddings even though it’s one of the few ways left to make money from photography. If I do shoot a wedding, it will be as a favor and I’ll not feel bound to the shot list. I’ll take some images that reflect who I am and what the wedding was really about.