You wouldn’t be alone if you thought that wedding photographers only really worked during the summer months. Lots of people are under the impression that weddings only take place at weekends and during warmer months. Traditionally this may be the case, but for quite some time now the wedding industry has shifted to meet the demands and expectations of couples. Weddings now commonly take place every day of the week and at all times of the year. Such that “off peak” doesn’t really exist for many established wedding photographers in the same way that it used to. With that said, things are typically still noticeably slower in some months. Often November, January and February are quiet months. What does a wedding photographer do in Winter then?
Well, lots of things!
In 2018 for example, we shot our first wedding of the year in February and our last wedding of the year on new years eve, so it was only really January where we had no weddings to photograph. Weddings are very often spread out throughout the year. Of course, weddings are still most popular during summer. And “wedding season” usually begins for us in March, getting progressively busier until September, when things begin to tail off again.
What does a wedding photographer do in Winter?
But even when a wedding photographer is not photographing weddings, there’s plenty to do. Like all businesses, wedding photographers need to take care of things such as their accounts. They need to engage with their clients, manage social media channels and market their business. If you’re a wedding photographer twidding their thumbs and wondering what to do with your new found time over the winter, here are some things that you could consider.
- Schedule, shoot and edit engagement sessions. During summer it’s almost impossible to find the time for non wedding work if you’re a full time wedding photographer. So when things slow down, it’s the ideal time to shoot engagement sessions or other professional work.
- Catch up with clients. When things slow down a bit it’s nice to check in on your couples. See how they’re getting on with their planning, see if there are any changes to their plans. Basically, just let them know you’re thinking about them and their wedding and that you are excited to work with them.
- Catch up on the accounts. For many self employed folk, January is tax return season. So it’s often an ideal time to catch up on all your accounting admin that you may have been putting off all summer because you didn’t have the time.
- Blog. You tend to find yourself in an endless cycle of shooting and editing weddings March- October. As a result, you don’t always get the opportunity to blog sessions. Or blog for informational purposes. So a bit of down time is a great time to catch up.
- Update your portfolio/website gallery. Hopefully at the end of every season you’ll find yourself with some great images that really reflect your current work. Wedding enquiries usually come in thick and fast around January time, so it’s ideal to update your website gallery and portfolio around this time. That way, prospective couples are seeing your freshest and hopefully best work.
- General website updates. Has anything changed with you or how you work? Just not feeling the layout or some of the text? No problem! The winter months generally give you plenty of opportunity to really focus on getting your website just right. This can include revamping or rebranding, or more technical elements such as improving SEO.
- Personal and professional development. The wedding industry is a competitive field, with more photographers than ever offering their services. It is therefore essential to be the very best that you can be. Some time to yourself to reflect on where you are, where you want to go and what you want to be can be all that you need to give you that push. Everyone will have their preferences on how to go about this. For some, disengaging with “work” altogether and having some “me time” or family time is what’s needed. Others prefer to participate in workshops, education or formal training. Sometimes swapping ideas with other photographers is fun too! Whatever you do and however you do it, time off can be time well spent too.
- Social media (for business). Virtually everyone is on some sort of social media, making it a fantastic way to engage with clients and potential clients. More free time means more time to invest in your social media profiles. Getting to know clients and helping them get to know you and your work. Winter can be a good time to show your couples “behind the scenes” stuff. Real you stuff.
- Plain old time off. March- October, generally speaking I wont have a single day off. Sure i’ll have days where I may only reply to an email or two as opposed to putting in a full day. But during busy busy season 16 hour days are the norm. But not a day will go by where I don’t do something business related. To enjoy actual time off is a blessing and should be cherished- because before you know if you’ll be back to the grind. Even if you love your work, it’s still healthy to also enjoy not working.
- Kind of linked with the above- catching up with loved ones. The reality of wedding photography is that weekends are still the preferred days to host weddings. Which means that wedding photographers have to work weekends. It’s just part of the job. But when most of the world works the 9-5 life, you can miss out on a lot with friends and family who only have weekends off. Conflicting schedules can mean you don’t see your favourite people enough during some months.
- Marketing. As mentioned above, the wedding industry is increasingly competitive. As a result, marketing is essential for many businesses. Slower months provide a great opportunity to focus on your marketing. Researching options and creating a marketing plan that will help you progress within your businesses. It’s a great way to start a new season.
- Putting yourself out there. It’s hard enough to keep on top of an editing workload, let alone all the other stuff that comes with running. Even blogging for your own website can take more hours than you have to spare. Focusing on putting yourself out there can be a beneficial way of spending your free time. This may include things like submitting weddings to blogs, or wedding magazines for features. It may include submitting your work for award consideration or publication. Whatever you do, step outside your comfort zone and put yourself out there if and when time permits.
- Try something new. It’s easy to fall into old habits and routines when shooting, so use free time to try something new. Get to grips with new shooting techniques, using flash or just other styles. Messing around with your kit and shooting for fun again, experimenting is a fun and productive way to prepare yourself for another wedding season. And it doesn’t stop at your camera. Try new editing techniques, different software. Just play and learn. You never know, you may stumble on something that changes your workflow or way of shooting for the better!
- Networking. Whether you’re wanting to network for business reasons such as to forge business relationships, or purely to meet likeminded professionals in your field, networking can be great for some photographers. The self employed life can be lonely for some, especially if you’ve entered into it having previously worked in a more social environment. Networking can have both personal and professional benefits.
- Finish up all the niggly jobs and things you’ve thought about doing throughout the year. I’m sure we all do it. You may have a fleeting idea about creating a brochure for your couples. You may want to order a new sample album, or need to order new business cards. Throughout the year I dream up hundreds of things that I would like to try or need to do, but never quite get around to. There’s always something more important. For me, the priority is always customer service and delivering a high end, quality product and service. So fleeting ideas and non essential things are always pushed to the bottom of the pile. Free time can be productive time and a good opportunity to tie up loose ends. You can wither get things done that need to be taken car of, or put old ideas to bed if they don’t quite work. Whatever you do, you’ll feel better knowing it’s done.
SO, what DOES a wedding photographer do in Winter?
How do you spend your “down time”. We’d love to hear about some of the things that you get up to in the “out of season” months.
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