Friday, May 22, 2015

FAQ: Tips for Anxious Photographers

I'm just going to be completely honest. When I decided to pursue wedding photography, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. There's timeline planning, millions of emails, lots and lots of taxes, brides who have breakdowns, prints that get lost in the mail, terrible lighting, clients who don't trust you, venues who have strict rules, brides who call off their wedding day, rejections from blogs, album design, payment reminders, having to be a salesman every day of your life, mean comments, thousands of dollars of equipment to buy, etc. etc. The list goes on. Wedding photography is not easy. I would never go back and change my career path and thankfully I've been very lucky to have great couples but I still have had serious bouts of anxiety where I felt like the world was collapsing and I couldn't do anything right. Every photographer experiences it but it's especially hard in this industry because we put our heart and soul into what we do. Or at least I do! I want everything to go as smoothly as possible and for that reason, I want my brides to trust me and allow me to help them! It doesn't always go as planned but when a bride is willing to trust and work with me, before the wedding and the day of, all my worries fade away. When a bride hires me because she connects with me and loves my work, things are going to be a breeze. 

But still, there are weeks where I have to pray that God will take away my anxiety and that he will walk through whatever is happening with me. It's tough. A couple of weeks ago, it was like a snowball was rolling down the hill and I was running just barely in front of it, trying not to get crushed. It kept building and building and eventually it just hit me. I fell over and I spent hours crying because I felt like I had tried SO hard and yet failed at the tiniest thing, which ultimately made my fragile heart feel broken. I'm writing this mostly to wedding photographers because I know how hard it is to separate the personal side of the business from the business side of the business. When a bride asks if we can add in some images we left out of the gallery, we feel like we've missed the mark. When a bride says she looks overweight in a photo, we feel like we've failed. When a bride asks for a discount, we feel like we're worthless. When a bride doesn't follow our suggested timeline, we feel like we're not valued. 

And this is just how it is! Wedding photography is NOT perfect and although there are going to be seasons where things seem worse than others, we have to remember just that -- that it's a season. If something isn't going right, work on fixing it. Ask yourself how you can change it. You might need to vent to someone after the fact but have a positive attitude. A bride wants to spend the day with someone who can remind her to breathe when she's nervous, who can have a safety pin when something rips, and who can take that photo the random guest wants that you might not want to take. Haha. 

But with all of this being said, I've had to learn how to deal with my anxiety and I know there are hundreds of wedding photographers out there dealing with this same thing. So I have a few tips that have helped me tremendously and I hope they'll help you too!

1. Take email off your phone, or at least turn off the little red notifications. I would wake up each morning, look at my phone, and immediately start stressing out because I would read my emails in bed. I started associating these terrible feelings with waking up and it made me not want to get out of bed. Now that I've taken the notifications off, I try to only respond to emails on my computer from 9-5. It's amazing and I didn't think it would help but it totally did. When I'm ready to sit down at my computer, THEN I can respond. I'm much more focused on things in my life now besides work, which is amazing.

2.  Just get away from your computer and spend time with family and friends. Try not to dwell on the things that seem SO huge right now. If something is stressing me out, I always say to myself, "In ten years, this will not matter." 

3. Try not to be so hard on yourself. There was a season in my life where I seriously critiqued every photo I took and I thought I wasn't good enough. I would try to be someone else and I eventually realized that me trying to be someone else was ruining who I was and needed to become. Remember that you are capturing a wedding day and not a styled shoot. You don't have hours to shoot each part of the day and everything isn't going to go perfectly as planned. Rarely do photographers walk away from a wedding happy with every piece of the day. And that's okay! Don't put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. None of us are perfect. I'm not saying to be lazy and give up. I'm saying to try your absolute best and know that your standards are always going to be higher than anyone else.

4. Focus on what you LOVE! I personally love weddings and portraits so those are the two things I do the most. I usually say no to athletics, maternity, newborns, families, etc. because I'm not as inspired by it and I don't feel like I can deliver what the client would want. It's good to specialize in what you are best at and what you enjoy doing! Then you won't be as stressed walking into a shoot you aren't excited about.

5. Attend workshops and get together with other photographers! I've been SUPER bad about the workshop one but it's good to hear from other photographers so you don't feel alone. I felt super alone about my anxiety for a long time but then I posted in a woman's photography group online and a ton of people commented with tips, saying they were praying and that I wasn't alone and I feel so much better! :)

I hope this is helpful! Everyone deals with stress differently but most importantly, you are not alone and it won't last forever!


  1. This inspires me so much. I want to shoot weddings SO SO badly, but I'm so nervous about it. Also, any tips on how to ask for second shooting opportunities? I really want to do more second shooting weddings, but i have no idea how to approach people.

    xx, rn

    1. Aw, good! So glad to hear that!! Don't be nervous! Second shooting is the best place to start! I emailed a bunch of photographers in my area with some of my best portrait work telling them that I had professional gear and would love to assist and possibly work up to second shooting! So I started out for free assisting by carrying gear and loading film. Then the photographers sometimes let me shoot during the ceremony and saw that I was able to do a good job and moved me up to a paying second shooting position! And it just blossoms from there! When you find ONE photographer who is willing to help you out, you'll have your foot in the door. It's easy to look at second shooting as a way to create a portfolio which it is but if you have the opportunity, just be sure to help the main shooter FIRST. Get water, carry lenses and gear, write thank you notes, etc.!

  2. Meredith, I appreciate this! I've been a fan of your work for a while now, and posts like this are super helpful.


    (And I second Rachel's question!)

    1. Good! :) Thanks so much!! Check out my response above. :)