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Tips to help wedding photographers cope with the busy season

2022 is expected to bring an estimated 2.5 million weddings, a 15% increase from a typical year. In fact, it’s predicted to be the busiest season in nearly four decades.

According to a recent survey from The Knot, almost 90% of couples in 2021 hired a photographer, making photographers among the most in-demand of all wedding vendors. What’s more, photography was one area where couples were willing to spend more than they planned as part of their original budgets.

En Sanlucar by Antonio Díaz on 500px.com

In 2022, amid the wedding boom, guest lists are growing, and people are spending more. At the height of the wedding photography season, which runs from May through October, photographers who were once slowed down by the pandemic will face new opportunities—and fresh challenges. Whether you specialize in classic wedding photography or trending niches like adventure elopement photography, here are our tips for making the most of a busy time—and navigating a booked calendar.

Wedding Photographer by Rafael Cordero on 500px.com

Tip #1: Set boundaries

Only book what you know you can handle. Take a look at your schedule, and think objectively (realistically) about what you can fit and what might be too much. It’s okay to say “no” to some jobs so you can dedicate your all to the ones you’ve agreed to shoot.

You’ll be happier, and your clients will be happier with the quality of your work. Be intentional about what you say “yes” to, and prioritize what you love. During wedding season, for example, you might only have time to shoot wedding photography, not your usual roster of family sessions and portraits.

A bit of photography advice: If you find yourself consistently overbooked, it might be a sign that you need to raise your prices.

Tip #2: Automate whatever you can

From blog articles to social media posts, schedule as much as you can in advance. You can use tools like Planoly (for Instagram), IFTTT (for social), and MailChimp (for email newsletters) to “set it and forget it.”

A client management software tool like HoneyBook is also great for automating client communications across all genres of lifestyle photography, including questionnaires, follow-ups, and review requests. That way, you can focus all your energy on capturing those once-in-a-lifetime moments—and nothing else.

Another idea would be to set up a few generic email templates (you can save these as “signatures.”) You can cater them to specific questions you get asked all the time.

Workflow by Szabo Viktor on 500px.com

Tip #3: Budget time for editing

According to one survey, wedding photographers spend the majority (55%) of their time editing—far more than they do shooting. Set aside plenty of time in your schedule to edit each wedding; you can time yourself for a starting point and then go from there.

Depending on how you work, you might prefer to set aside an hour each day or one day a week. Keep in mind, too, that the time you spend editing is valuable and should be factored into your pricing packages.

Also, it might go without saying, but cull first and edit later. You don’t want to waste time editing images that you won’t use. It can also help to give yourself deadlines; for example, maybe you have three days from the wedding to cull and edit the images. It can feel more manageable when the shoot is fresh on your mind.

Young Business People Executive Analyzing Statistics Business by Natee Meepian on 500px.com

Tip #4: Learn to delegate

While many prefer to do their own post-production, there’s also something to be said for outsourcing this part of the process.

Browse social media for a retoucher you trust and whose style aligns with your own. Or ask your colleagues and friends for referrals and recommendations. You also want to choose an editor who will communicate with you throughout the process and accept feedback as needed.

Paulina Angielczyk by Paulina Angielczyk on 500px.com

Tip #5: Collaborate with a second shooter

In a similar vein, consider hiring a second shooter to help you on the day of the wedding. That way, you’ll get more angles, more people, and more moments to share with your couple.

Ask for references and a portfolio to help you choose the right person. Additionally, start looking as early as possible; ideally, you have your second shooter in place well before the busy season, and you have some experience working together under your belt.

Tip #6: Set clear expectations

Communication with your couple will form the foundation of a successful shoot, so take the time to meet with them beforehand, go over the schedule for the day, and create a shot list. Some couples might want documentary-style, intimate wedding photography, while others might prefer a more formal approach. Only promise what you know you can deliver, based on a realistic time frame; it’s always better to send your photos too early than too late.

Rebekah & Will-3 by photoadventure.co.nz on 500px.com

Tip #7: Track your time

On busy days, it’s hard to know where all the time goes, so consider a time-tracking app like Harvest or Toggl Track for better time management.

These tools are designed to help you understand how you spend your time—and rearrange your schedule for a more productive workday. Additionally, avoid multitasking; focus on one thing at a time, and then move on to the next.

Father and son at wedding. by Minya Gergely on 500px.com

Tip #8: Set priorities

If your to-do list feels overwhelming, rank the items in order of importance. Long-term tasks like updating your website, for instance, can take a backseat to important and time-sensitive duties like delivering retouched files or invoicing clients.

Your priority every day is completing the two or three items at the top of your list; if you have extra time after you’re done, that’s when you can tackle those further down.

Puente de Triana by Antonio Díaz on 500px.com

Tip #9: Know when you’re most productive

Some people are more productive at night, while others get more done in the mornings. Tailor your schedule to suit your working style.

If you’re at your most effective first thing in the morning, spend those hours doing the work that requires the most brain power, such as creating content for your blog, and then devote the rest of the day to more automatic (but no less time-consuming) tasks, such as answering inquiries or scheduling your social media feed.

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Tip #10: Take breaks

Our last tip ties back to our first: remember to take days off to recover. It can help to unplug even just for a few hours; think of it as a digital detox, and turn off all your devices.

Or take yourself on an “artist date” where you do something fun and inspiring, like visiting an art gallery or exploring a nature reserve.

Finally, to help you survive the busy season, set aside some time to reconnect with those closest to you, whether it’s family, friends, or a support network of colleagues who also specialize in couple photography. When you have someone to lean on, everything feels a bit more manageable.

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