As I prepare to finish the last few films of 2011, I can only think about the thirty-two amazing couples we have had the privilege to get to know over this past year. In January, I wrote about our process, and how the story plays the largest role in our films. The stories this year have been incredible and we were blown away by how many couples let us into their lives, and not just provide “coverage” of their wedding day. We are so blessed to be able to do what we love, and today I wanted to share some advice for any aspiring photographers or cinematographers looking to get into this field.
1) You have to go through a large body of work, before you will find your style.
Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way this year, but it is the truth. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month, you are going to finish one project. As Chase Jarvis preaches, “Create, Share, and Sustain.” It is only by going through a large volume of work that you are going to catch up and close that gap. So that the work you are making is as good as your ambitions. You are going to fail, a lot, and that is what will shape your style. You just have to go out there and start shooting. It has taken me over 60 weddings to make me realize what I really wanted to make, and I am still experimenting (might be an endless journey).
2) Your time is valuable.
I cannot stress this enough. Put an hourly limit on what your doing and charge accordingly. I used to give unlimited time at weddings, and no one respected me at all. We would get to the event super early, nothing would be ready to shoot yet, and then we would leave late. Now, I have limits on my packages, and things move on time or it is not captured. You have to be firm on this, or you will end up suffering when you have a few extra hours to edit later on.
3) Personal work defines everything else.
Unfortunately, my schedule this year left me almost no time for my self. I took on way too much work and its strained on my creativity this year. The magical thing that separates us is our personal work. I would go as far as to say that personal work should always come first and should inspire your paid work. It is your chance to experiment without worry. In most cases, personal work has led to me other jobs, and it typically gets more attention than paid work.
4) Respect others…aka the photographer vs. videographer.
We have worked with brilliant photographers, and we have worked with “oh god a videographer” photographers. No matter what, we treat those professionals the same and with respect. While styles vary, I always try to respect another professional’s work, as long as they do the same for me. In some cases, people have given us no respect, and while we are very angry with those individuals, we remained professional. I suggest you research the vendors you will be working with before the event and send them an email explaining what you do and how you do it. After all, we are both there to capture the bride and groom’s wedding day and make it the best it can be.
5) Network and educate.
Networking is essential in any industry, and its gotten us in more amazing situations than we could have dreamed of. Who knew I would be shooting a wedding in NYC for Stillmotion or helping them out on their amazing Showtime documentary if I did not attend their workshop last November. A simple introduction can get you far, and in our case many referrals from photographer friends. You just have to put yourself out there and you will not only make great friends, but you will learn a lot from them too.