As I’m sure you know, weddings are held all year round, but there’s a frantic ‘silly season’ in summer where the majority of weddings are held – presumably to take advantage of our Great British Summer. Ahem. So, for a wedding photographer, there really is that opportunity to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ when it comes to wedding bookings; even if it’s raining, as let’s face it, it normally is.
As a business, you need to capitalise upon sales opportunities. That’s why many – if not most – wedding photographers will be shooting multiple weddings a week during the summer months. Those weddings may well be back to back (as in, on consecutive days), or even on Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
But I don’t do that. And I’m going to explain why.
First of all, it’s not for me to say what’s right or wrong about shooting weddings back to back. Everyone works in a different way and has to make decisions based on their own situation, business and skills. What I am going to do is tell you why, for me, shooting back to back weddings is a risky business, even though it means turning away revenue.
The day before a wedding, I like to spend a certain amount of time preparing well for the events to come. I’ll go back through the timeline and plan which was made with the couple, for this might have been done weeks if not months before and I need to familiarise myself intimately with the running of the day and what will be expected of me. If it’s somewhere I haven’t been before, I’ll also recheck travelling times, look at whether there are any scheduled roadworks in place on the route, and I’ll also do a virtual ‘walk past’ on Google Streetmaps so that I know what the venue or venues look like. (It’s easy to sail past turnings for country venues and houses, and often not so easy to turn around on narrow rural roads).
I’ll also check and clean my kit, I’ll charge all my batteries so that they’re fully powered up, and I’ll pack my bags and tick off my kit list so I know I’ve got everything I need. I’ll get my work clothes ready, go fill the car with fuel, and pack food for the day. And then, finally, I make sure I’m fully rested and I’ll get an early night, so that I know I’ll be working at 100% the next day. It’s someone’s wedding day, and I’m going to be on my feet for perhaps ten or twelve hours. I’m not going to turn up already tired from a hard day’s work the day before.
The day after a wedding, I’ll upload all the RAW images to my computer and spend an hour or so selecting a number of shots to edit and send as previews to the client. That’s normally done by 11am, and then I have the rest of the day to myself to rest, recharge again, and spend some time with my family. If it’s been a long drive to the venue, I might not get home until midnight, so I feel that I deserve some time off the next day. Shooting a full day’s wedding coverage isn’t like a day in the office; it’s physically and mentally demanding, with very little down time.
So. If I booked back to back weddings, there’s a lot of my prep and wind down that I’d just be unable to do in the way I like to. Added to that, I’d be missing precious time with my family, too.
Sp there’s the conundrum. Book back to back weddings in the summer and take advantage of the earning opportunities; or try and strike a more even balance between work and home. I go for the second, and whilst yes, I might be losing out on bookings, it means that I can reassure myself that I am giving my clients the absolute best of me every time I turn up to a wedding. And, money isn’t everything. Seeing my little boy’s face when he sees me the day after a wedding and he knows he can spend the day with me is pretty much priceless.
In summary, for me, back to back weddings are a risky business. That doesn’t mean that everyone else is wrong, or that they’re offering a substandard service to their clients by doing so. I’m sure there are lots of photographers who cope admirably with the demands of multiple weddings in a row. It’s just not for me.
So, what do you think? Are you shooting back to back weddings, and if so, what’s your plan of action to make it work for you?