A welcome & my top 5 mistakes I made when I started wedding photography

how do I become a wedding photographer

Hello! I hope everyone is having a great 2018 so far. My year of weddings starts next Saturday with a lovely wedding in London, so local for now. 

I am entering my 7th year in the wedding industry and I have now decided I want to give back. One of the most important aspects of my journey has been the ability to learn from others through free resources and paid mentoring and both have been invaluable. 

The wedding industry is far from perfect but I genuinely believe that the only way for it to get better is for the community to help and support one another. So I guess this new blog on my website is my way of doing that. 

My journey has been far from glorious. Anyone who has stuck around long enough as a wedding photographer will tell you that it's not an easy path to walk but it's a worthwhile one if you really love what you do. 

My promise for this blog is no bullshit and honesty. I am not going to gloss over anything about myself or my experiences. So I thought this would be a good place to start. My 5 biggest mistakes that I have had to learn some hard lessons from. 

I did not take the most sensible route into wedding photography. If I could go back and change the first 3.5yrs I probably would. I went in with some strong rose-tinted glasses about how easy it was going to be and that I didn't need help from anyone. This wasn't arrogance as I worked out later on but a huge issue with my own self-confidence. 

The only two things that kept me afloat was my desire from the beginning to provide a high standard of service to everyone I worked for and my love of the work and the creative process. Without those, I would probably of never of got this far. 

Mistakes are important in any walk of life. It's where we learn and get better but only if we chose to. You never stop learning whatever stage you are at.

So here they are my 5 hard lessons...

  1. I isolated myself.
    This wasn't because I thought I was better than everyone else, it wasn't because I didn't want to learn and it wasn't because I don't like people. It was because I am my own worst critic. 
    I told myself repeatedly I wasn't good enough. I belittled myself and told myself that if I put myself out there amongst my peers I would be shot down and isolated even more. This wasn't an industry issue, even though we all know we can be a little mean to one another. This was my issue with my own lack of self-belief and self-worth. 
    This belief was damaging because it meant that I didn't reach out to others I could learn from like through second shooting and the opportunity to assist photographers who were ahead of me. That alone could have fast-tracked my education and abilities. 
  2. I didn't define my style.
    Now the creative process is ever evolving we all know that. We all also know that when we compare our work from now to 12 months ago we can see improvement and often get that cringy feeling of what was I thinking. 
    Defining your style early on or at least having a goal in mind of what you want to work towards and be known for is so important. That doesn't mean you have to go from 0-100 in your knowledge, this doesn't mean the messy middle is going to go away. Just knowing this information would have helped me dramatically as it would have allowed me to set a path in the direction I wanted to go in. Like now I know I want to be known for a rich and slightly moodier feel while still keeping correct skin tones and white balance in order to retain a timeless feel.  
    Instead, because I didn't give myself a direction to go in or something to aspire to I followed trends which are now massively outdated. What that also did was put me in the same basket as everyone else. Now I am not saying that no one else shoots or edits like I do but I do believe that I am finally starting to define my style and what I want to be known for.
  3. I shied away from business and marketing.
    We all do it... Tell ourselves that we are creatives just being good enough will get us work. This is a lie we tell ourselves over and over because the reality is that initially marketing and business is a big overwhelming and terrifying mess. 
    Truth is now more than ever it's so easy to learn this stuff. I can not emphasize enough how important marketing is. I dedicate 20hrs a week to this alone. I could outsource it which if you have the funds is most definitely the easy option. However, I actually enjoy doing it. Now it's something I have more knowledge on it's not so scary and it's actually a hugely satisfying creative process. I enjoy coming up with ideas, challenging myself and putting myself out there even if it is uncomfortable and I enjoy finding out what will work and what won't. I have become an avid listener of business podcasts and love reading books about entrepreneurs from all industries. I now view myself as someone in business and that has changed everything for the best over the past couple years. 
  4. I didn't work on myself. 
    Mindset, mindset mindset. It's everything. Your mindset will be the one thing that stops you from achieving what you really want to achieve. It's true if you think you can't then you won't. This isn't some magical bullshit, you will be the only thing that will get in your way. 
    If you look at the above 3 mistakes they all come back to what I thought, what story I was telling myself. What excuses I was making.
    The moment I started working on myself it was uncomfortable and scary. I had to face some truths about myself I didn't want to face but after a few months and working through my limiting beliefs I started to see massive change and now I make my own personal development a priority day in day out. 
  5. I stopped pursuing personal projects.
    This one is important. Really important. I went through a couple of years where I just did paid work. There is nothing that kills the creative process faster. We chose to become photographers because we love taking photos and creating something we love. 
    The moment you make that 'a job' it can change our approach to it. It can make us stale and cause us to plateau and eventually fall out of love with what we do. 
    The moment I decided to do more work for myself and not just my clients not only did I fall back in love with it again I also started to get better again. Everything from styled shoots to trips to Scotland. I now add my personal work into my strategy for the year. 

So there you go my 5 biggest mistakes I have made (so far) in my career and what I have learned from them. I really hope they have been helpful to know as I also know how lonely this work can be and that sometimes it feels like you are only one making these fuck ups while everyone else around you are succeeding. 

If you wish to get involved with me more I have two ways you can do that. You can join my facebook group Women in Wedding Photography or get in touch to have mentoring with me. I have 6 spots available between now and the end of March. 

Have a great weekend!
Ami xx

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