This morning, Sunday the 4th of May, the ever factual and in-depth Economic Times ran an article on Wedding Photography in India. The reporter had called me a week or so ago to record a few facts, and we had an interesting fifteen minute conversation where I told him all I knew about the industry – as it existed in India. He must have checked his facts, because as I read the article today – I noted that he had also quoted a couple of other wedding photographers in India – most of whom I either know personally – or whom I know by their work.
The article was titled “Candid wedding photography proves lucrative and creatively fulfilling for lensmen“. This headline was supported by a slew of facts and numbers – all of which make wedding photography seem very, very (VERY!) attractive indeed as an industry to be in. As i was going through it, I couldn’t help but imagine how many people in India today would have been inspired to leave their regular nine-to-five desk jobs and take up wedding photography as a profession. After all, it seems easy. Buy a camera – shoot a couple of friends or family weddings – and hey presto, you’re earning in lakhs. You’re travelling to fantastic destinations. You’re partying with the stars!
To support all of this, some of the photographers interviewed have a classic “left well paying jobs, took up their passion” ring to it. Hey, I’m guilty too! I left my well paying (and well fought for) job with IBM to do full time wedding photography. So if I can do it – and a lot of other people seem to be doing it – why can’t you?
You certainly should. But before you do, you owe it to yourself to think it through. Here are a couple of tips I’ll leave you with if you want to switch careers and take up full time wedding photography.
If you’ve spent your whole life in IT, or banking…or any other sector like that, you’ve probably put in years of hard work reaching where you are. By switching careers, you’re losing ALL of that. You’re literally going all the way down the ladder and starting anew. Do you really want to sacrifice all the work you’ve put in to build your corporate career? You may have had a bad day, a bad week…or even a bad year, but you owe it to yourself to stick it out, and not jump ship without thinking it through.
Today’s article in the Economic Times paints a very rosy picture about how much it’s potentially possible to earn via wedding photography. Remember – these numbers represent the very tip of the iceberg. While wedding photography can offer attractive renumeration, there are hundreds of costs that are hidden behind the scenes that nobody will tell you about. In addition, because of the perceived earning potential, there are now thousands of photographers who’ve decided that they want in. If you’ve just started out, you’re going to be competing at the bottom of the pyramid, which can be a very hard field to play in.
I was teaching a class on wedding photography recently, and the first question I asked the group of 15-odd students was WHY they wanted to become wedding photographers. Predictably, more than half answered that it was because they wanted to earn lots of money. Wow. Wrong answer. Wedding photography is a calling. You should WANT to make beautiful images. Want to be a part of a very special day, every other day of your life! Want to be a part of something special. Something magical. And shoot it. And if you happen to make some money along the way, well…then you’re goddamn lucky. Becoming a wedding photography for the money is the worst reason of it all.
I recently saw this meme on wedding photography. I think this really sums it up:
Weddings, especially in India – can be very VERY taxing. Imagine a day where you report for work at 7 in the morning to be in time for a morning pooja – and are on call, and working, till 5 in the morning – which is when the pandit finally announces it’s time to go home. Sound like fun? It is! But when you’re doing it every other day, there are times you can want to throw everything to the wind, go home – and go to sleep.
There are many reasons why you should become a wedding photography. The most important one should always be that you WANT to. Not for the money. Not for the killing schedule. Not for the travel and the glamour. But for the fact that you want to make beautiful images, and you want to make two people feel very special indeed.
Don’t become a wedding photographer for the wrong reasons. Questions? Ask away below!