Thoughts On “Professional” Wedding Photographers In 2012

All genres of photography tend to hold a sense of wonder, and make one ask, “what if I tried that”? Such as, what if I tried photojournalism? Or fine art? Or commercial fashion? I have to admit lately that the one genre that really does not hold much appeal, which I will detail here, is wedding photography. Why?

I listen to lots, and lots, of photography podcasts. Most of the “professionals” today trying to eek out a living in photography are wedding photographers. While I do not look down on the genre, I usually roll my eyes during podcast interviews, when the photographer starts talking gear. Usually it is dominated by lusting after the latest and greatest, and “if I only had this f/1.2 lens” kind of talk. Or, “I’m going to wait until the Mark IV comes out”. Which baffles me, as I have seen income statistics for photographers. Newsflash- they do not make very much, at all. We have digital to thank for that. So how do these photographers afford this constant, endless upgrade rat race? Are they over extended and leveraged to the max? That might be a possibility. To those who have suggested that I go pro, my response has always been “thanks, but I need to eat”.

Also, some thoughts on aesthetics. While admittedly a fan of “shallow depth of field” (DOF) shots, look at some of the wedding portfolios out there. They are almost all shallow DOF. It gets really old, really fast. If I was in the market for a photographer to capture for posterity such an event, I might like some variety- maybe some film shots, maybe some sharp, some soft, others with high contrast, a few low contrast. You get the idea. Variety.

When I was laid off of my job over a year ago, I did briefly toy with the idea of a career shift into professional photography. While the money in it is truly bad, the creativity I see, or lack of it, is even worse. The best work I see today is being done by passionate amateurs, hobbyists, and film photographers. No matter how much I look at a digital wedding portfolio, and try to like it, my reaction is usually “too digital, too pristine, too sterile”.  Just one photographer’s thoughts.




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