You like that water/storm analogy, right? It’s May and it has been rainy so I guess it rubbed off. Speaking of storms and water waves, let’s talk about weddings in Covid times.
Wedding photography on a good day has its challenges, but nothing could have prepared us for what Covid has created. Reality check: postponements, cancellations, micro-weddings, and more postponements – that is the current state of wedding photography across Canada. With ever-changing restrictions, it is extremely frustrating and exhausting trying to run a business, stay in business, and also do what we need to do for our clients both professionally and creatively.
I’ve been living it daily since the start of the pandemic and want to give you a few tips on what you can do to stay sane, stay prepared, and keep your business alive.
Micro-Wedding is a new buzz word and they’re here to stay. Embrace them! They are the new reality and the new norm (at least for the next little while). It may be a long time until we see 100-200+ weddings so stay the course, continue photographing weddings – just on a smaller scale. Give your clients options on how to work within these new restrictions, while keeping everyone safe. Consider creating a Micro-Wedding package which may include reduced hourly coverage and smaller deliverables. With this may come the exclusion of your second shooter, which may, in turn, include the need for an additional camera body and lens.
As a pro, you should always have a backup regardless, but when I photograph without my second shooter/assistant, I rock a double Spider Holster belt, two Sony A7III bodies and would likely stick to a 35mm and 85mm combo or a 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 zoom combo, depending on the situation.
During a summer backyard wedding last fall, I used my Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM lens for a good majority of the time. I was able to capture everything I needed, while keeping my distance from everyone and still getting a good range of close-up and far-away shots for my clients. Prior to Covid, I would always walk into any room with the Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM lens as it allowed me to be prepared as soon as I walked in. It covered a good range and gave let in enough light with the 2.8 aperture – a must-have zoom lens for weddings.
Just because a 12-hour wedding isn’t happening, doesn’t mean you can’t create amazing photos for your clients. Consider photographing them in their wedding attire a few days after their official document signing. This will not only take the pressure away, but also keep your clients at ease since you won’t be under the same time crunch that you would typically experience on a wedding day. You can also explore multiple locations that would not be possible during a wedding day – of course, if and when they open. This type of session allows you to get creative, experiment a bit, and give you access to your assistant, all your gear and lighting, and a whole lot of time.
Post-Wedding photoshoots are a great opportunity to work with off-camera flash. If you’re starting out with flash, you may not be ready for bigger studio lights, but a smaller, portable Speedlight might be a great place to start. My go-to is the Profoto A10: it’s small, easy to use, and extremely reliable. You can attach various modifiers to it to shape your light and when you’re ready for something bigger, it will work seamlessly with other Profoto lights.
Invest in Yourself
With ever-changing restrictions, we have one positive thing that has come out of this: time! I can’t remember when I had this much free time. It certainly has allowed me to get into a fitness training routine, and allowed me to spend a lot more time with my family. I often thought about how wedding photography always made me miss the weekend BBQ, a get-together, a family dinner… well I’m making up for lost time.
With all this extra time, we as photographers have an opportunity to hone in on lighting, composition, experimentation, and educate ourselves further and work on things that we’ve been putting off. Henry’s has some great online seminars and events that you can check out. Shameless plug -> I offer 1:1 training and run an off-camera light workshop called “Afraid of the Light Workshop”, and there are many amazing educators and photographers offering online classes and content.
Try Something New
If you’re not sick of the word “pivot” yet, here it is again – pivot! With all the free time and restrictions with weddings and all the postponements, it may be time to P.I.V… try something new. Even though I’ve been mainly doing wedding photography over the last 12 years, I have done my fair share of other types of photography that I’ve never really promoted or sought out. Over the years, I’ve done family portraits, headshots, street, bird, promotional and commercial, and product photography.
Recently I’ve been trying to find alternative ways of making additional income in photography due to the uncertainty and ever-changing realm of weddings. As commercial and industrial photography has been permitted in Ontario, it could allow you to try something new.
Personally, I have been concentrating a lot more on product photography. As more and more businesses take their business online, Shopify stores are popping up everywhere and people need good product photos. Over the last few months, I have been able to secure a few projects that have allowed me to work solo in my studio, revise and refine a skill set, and make an income.
Since product photography can be very technical and colour accuracy and details are very important, I often use the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport 2 to get consistent white balance and colour. It will also allow you to create your own custom camera profiles for post-production.
In addition, you may want to consider a flash meter to really dial in your lighting for the most balanced and accurate light for your products. This will in turn save you time taking numerous test shots and speed up your overall workflow. The Sekonic L-478D Litemaster Pro will do the trick.
Hang in There
I know, it’s easier said than done, but I hope the above tips have given you some ideas and hope that there is something you can still do during these crazy times. We need to be adaptive to the ever-changing situation. Remember what happened to those photographers that didn’t adapt to digital cameras? Most of us don’t like change, especially as immense and as fast as we are experiencing now during Covid.
Embrace the change, seek the opportunity, invest in yourself, and tread above water! You will soon reach the shore!