I don’t know when exactly, but sometime between 2013 and 2014, wedding became a competitive sport.
I once heard a woman told her bride-to-be friend that she had her wedding in a theme park because she knew magazines would ‘eat it up’. To which her friend replied: “It’s ok, my wedding is just going to be a normal one. It’s not a big deal.”
Let’s get something out of the way:
A wedding is never ‘not a big deal’.
Finding someone amongst 6 billion people, to be awkward, and then be comfortable enough to promise your life to them, is a big deal.
But this ‘my wedding is better than your wedding’ mentality, is making couple self-conscious of their celebration.
They start to think about the form rather than function.
Like restaurants making ‘instagramable’ dishes instead of delicious ones.
You focus on the wrong things and lose sight of what’s important.
As photographers, we’re supposed to remind them of that.
To educate our couples, to make them feel special through our work.
But it’s not easy when photographers are being eaten by a similar epidemic.
We’re too busy getting discouraged by rejected submissions from wedding blogs and magazines.
The reason we submit is generally for exposure. In my case, search engine optimisation. (That’s for another post altogether.)
It used to be an encouragement to the photographers, a point of reference to see what other photographers are up to.
Nowadays, the wedding you shot needs to be epic, it needs to scale mountains and looks like a Hollywood movie, the bride and groom need to have a Tarantino-esque back story (and not eat for two months), yet patient enough to fill in a questionnaire that might as well be a mental evaluation slash security check.
If your wedding isn’t featured, sorry, you’re not the rock star we’re looking for, we have THOUSANDS of applications a week, so better luck next time. PS, it’s your responsibility to relay this disappointing news to your couple. PPS, photographers who pay for our advertising have a higher rate of success. XXOO.
And if you do get featured, well congratulations, here’s your wedding post next to hundreds of others which look exactly the same. Because we ‘curate’ our content to the highest quality.
This in a way entices photographers to shoot for submissions, stage fake weddings, or worse – volunteer to shoot for free if they think the wedding has a higher chance of getting featured.
I’m writing this out of frustration because couples getting married is a beautiful thing.
Photographers should be proud of being able to capture said beautiful things.
But yet, we are not proud.
We are the opposite of proud – letting brownie points decide our self-worth and influence the way we shoot.
And now the industry portrayed by the media just looks, if I can be honest here, predictable.
The answer is simple: stop submitting weddings.
Weddings and photos dictate the existence of blogs and magazines; not the other way round.
But hey, I’m annoyed; not bat-shit crazy here.
I will continue to submit weddings to offer something new to the industry (which get rejected A LOT); not for gratification.
So if you’re a couple planning your wedding, just know that to be able to reach this stage – in search of a wedding photographer, is no small feat. You’ve come so far.
If you’re a wedding photographer dealing with ‘rejected submission’ syndrome, help is everywhere.
Talk to your loved ones.
Walk away from the computer.
It is important, but not important enough to risk your self-esteem.
Learn to improve your service to build your audience; not the other way round.
Below is a shot from my last wedding of 2016.
It is a reminder of my basic job description – making sure happy people are in focus.
Dude! This is an EPIC post that reflects so many of industry people’s frustration. The wedding feature machine is a flawed one, and it’s impossible to point the finger at a single source.
It sucks to be told that your work is not reflective of a specific look – be it gender, fashion, location, or extravagance. As someone who has started a marketing platform to make some of the things right (and thus my declaration of a conflict of interest), and as someone who has been a wedding photographer for 6+ years, I understand the pain, the self-doubt, the sacrifices and the lack of external reward from those who use our content for their own profit.
Thank you for writing this and may your 2017 be another great year.