AUGUST 28, 2018

I've repeatedly witnessed something fairly tragic in the photography world.

I'll come across a photographer's work and be smitten by their creativity, their use of color, their crazy ideas. I'll start following them and I look forward to seeing what work they produce next. Usually it's in the vein of conceptual or fashion work.

But then something happens. Suddenly, all they're posting is wedding photos. Their website no longer mentions anything about being any other kind of photographer, and I can't find their creative personal work ANYWHERE.

I've seen some really creative people fall into the trap of resorting to weddings. I have nothing against shooting weddings or wedding photographers. But I want aspiring photographers to know that it's not the only option.

You see, I've shot some weddings (I don't anymore). I have a few wedding photographers I immensely admire (like my own wedding photographer, Nirav Patel). But frankly, everyone is shooting weddings. Not only does that saturate the market, making it more competitive to actually get gigs, but it's also just...overdone. Every couple has their Pinterest wishes, their visions for the perfect hipster photo on top of a mountain (I'm also guilty of creating and wanting these photos for myself). Weddings CAN be creative...but many times, they are a regurgitation of things others have already done. They also can cause you to burn out really easily.

If you love shooting weddings and feel completely fulfilled by them, that's wonderful. But if you're shooting weddings because creative work didn't pay the bills and you didn't have time to devote to "fun" work, I want you to know:


Yes, weddings are nice because you can charge a decent amount for them. Guess what? Corporate headshots often pay better than weddings and are half the work and a sixteenth of the stress. Find a well-paying niche that may not be the most exciting but will allow you to devote time to your creative work, and master it. Learn to take the best headshot in the world.

My personal story is this: I worked a part-time job with benefits for 2 years at UC Berkeley. If I had decided to launch into photography full-time right away, I might have resorted to weddings just because they pay nicely. That period of time allowed me to build up my creative work and develop a network of clientele that pay for that kind of work. It's still not my main source of income, but now that I'm full-time with photography, I often shoot corporate headshots that are good, steady gigs that allow me to turn down other gigs that don't drive me creatively. I'm left with time and resources to devote to my creative work.

You can be successful as a conceptual or fashion photographer. You can be successful shooting what you want to shoot.

So please - if you're someone who is producing really interesting, never-been-seen-before work, keep doing it. Find a way to make it work. Because I want to see your weird personal work. Not just another wedding.