The busiest month of the wedding season is nearly done. I am seeing daily Facebook posts in my feed from photographers. “Only a couple more left!” “Anyone have any good outsourcing companies? I’m in over my head here.” “No, I don’t have your photos ready yet from your wedding that was two weeks ago.” Awww, wedding season madness. It sneaks up on you every time.
Every September, I feel both excited and pretty worn down. The month is usually jam-packed with weddings and it’s my favourite month to photograph thanks to that sweet September light. But it’s also the time of year when summer weddings may still be sitting in the queue and where you seem to spend every waking hour working on your post-production trying to get caught up. This year has been no different. While I definitely had at least one meltdown, in privacy, with only my husband present, I am also feeling pretty good about life. About my work schedule and how I have been managing it. After photographing weddings for this long, I feel as though I have finally figured it out. Yippee! This is how I have managed to survive.
The last time that I blogged, I spoke about my wedding workflow. This time of year, it’s all about being organised. The second you fall behind on one wedding, it all snowballs out of control from there. Have a To Do list that includes every small task that needs to be done and stick with it. Enjoy crossing things off the list as you complete them. Set daily goals for what you can realistically get done. Make a calendar for when you want to blog weddings and actually have them blogged. Be realistic with what you can accomplish when and do your best to conquer.
I used to only put an autoreply on my email when I was actually away on vacation. But then I realised that a lot of my corporate clients have one on theirs for every meeting that they attend, or so it seems. Why couldn’t li’l ol’ Jess do that as well? When I know that I have a big weekend of photographing and know that that time will be focused on those clients, I put an autoreply on my email. It tells the recipient that they have reached me in the heart of wedding season and that I am away from the studio until x date. I explain that while away, access to email is limited and that I will get back to them as soon as I am able. I am big on customer service and it’s rare for me to not reply to an email within a few hours. But I realised that having this pressure on myself is not fair to, well, me nor is it fair to any clients that I am dealing with around that time. Having the autoreply on allows me to relax a little knowing that if I take a day or two to get back to the client, then it is A-OK.
Take a Day Off
I have discovered that it’s okay to take a day off, even in the midst of your busiest season, and the world will not end. It’s incredible! When you are a wedding photographer, it’s a given that you work basically every weekend. You then spend the weekday doing post-production. This basically means that you are working at least six days a week. When my To Do list is exploding with tasks to be done, I feel guilty pushing it aside and taking a day off just for me. However, I am learning how important it is to do this. For my sanity and for the quality of service that I can give my clients. A couple of weekends ago, I had a double-header, meaning that I photographed a wedding on both the Saturday and Sunday. Because of this, I took the Friday before off. We rode bikes, ate some delicious food and I loved every minute of it. No one died. There were no wedding client crises. And I was able to be a better photographer for both of my couples that weekend because of it.
Look After Yourself
You will hear a lot of photographers talk about how the day after they shoot a wedding, they feel as though they have been run over by a bus. I have been there. It’s not a nice feeling. Your whole body aches and nothing but a big breakfast in bed with lots of hot coffee can cure it. I’m happy to say – here is a little bragging for you but I don’t care – that this wedding season, I have not felt like that at all. Why? Because I have been looking after myself. As the season began this year, I vowed to get in better shape. Photographing a wedding takes a lot of physical stamina. You’re carrying gear all day and putting yourself in all kinds of weird positions, including squatting for minutes on end. Three time a week I go to a Pilates or Essentrics class at Misfit and I have never felt better. My posture is great. My core is strong and on Sundays now when I wake up, I feel like a million bucks. I know, I know, you’re too busy to workout because you have a million weddings to complete. Sure, we all do. But taking a couple hours out of your day to do this, will be the best choice that you make that day. So do it, look after yourself. Get strong. It will make you better at all things. I promise.
Book a Vacation
Finally, when the end of wedding season is on the horizon, book yourself a vacation. You have worked hard. You have survived another season. You deserve this. We have one booked for November and I cannot wait.