What are your bets on how the wedding photography industry will look by the time we get through the pandemic? Here, an award-winning wedding photographer shares his experiences on getting through this period and looks to the future of the industry.
Wedding photography is all about socializing or at least learning to appear friendly and likable to keep up appearances in front of your clients and other guests, who may become future clients. It's not exactly surprising that this kind of business is currently taking a massive hit and affecting photographers and videographers, not just this spring and summer but also into the next year. Alan Law, a recognized wedding photographer from the UK, who has been awarded titles such as "Wedding Photographer of the Year" and "Top 5 Wedding Photojournalists in the UK 2017" shares his current experiences and thoughts on the matter here. Law is also a founder of This is Reportage, an active online community and directory for documentary style wedding photographers.
At the moment, Law's instinct and hope tell him that the industry will bounce back in a significant way. People want to get married today, and they will want to get married tomorrow; the crisis might even intensify those feelings once things return to normal. The desire for that social gathering where you get to see your loved ones all in one place will likely become even more appreciated after the enforced isolation restrictions are lifted.
The downside is that this pandemic is affecting the economy on a global scale; thus, even those who may have customarily left aside a bigger budget for their wedding will likely be affected. They may have lost a part of their savings, which could take months or years to build back up, or they might want to be more conscious about their spending in the future. Similarly, currently operating wedding photographers are deeply affected by the situation, and even though some might receive financial assistance from the government or other official bodies, it is very likely that sadly, others might not survive it. Weddings are an integral part of our society and culture, so it is unlikely this would make a whole industry disappear overnight. Both clients and suppliers will need to adapt to any changes, though.
In regards to workshops and networking opportunities, Law believes that they won't be affected. Undoubtedly, current or near-future events have had to cancel or postpone. Photography education events provide a sense of community for this solitary profession, so it's no wonder that most of us will continue to attend or organize them in the future. And, imagine attending the first event after the pandemic! It will be a special moment where you get to rejoice and be reunited with fellow industry friends and acquaintances! This social side to these events is just as important as the educational side.
As for personal feelings, Law was struck seeing his colleagues and friends go through so much stress and fear of potentially losing all of their livelihoods, his own included. Not surprisingly, he also felt scared for involving his family in this uncertainty. Law's response to the matters is to "carry on" and keep working on his business. By offering friendly advice and assistance to his couples who have had to postpone or cancel and by sharing his knowledge and advice on how to deal with situations like these to others in the industry, Law also shares this information and more on a special podcast episode. It features Simon Leclercq, who is a doctor as well as a wedding photographer. This particular episode, Law hopes, will offer some insight coming straight from someone working on the frontline of this pandemic.
Even though we don't know how the situation will pan out in the future and when will we see an end to it, there is still hope and little things that make the situation more bearable. The photography community has become even more tight-knit, as people began to share their experiences and advice on how to deal with postponed or canceled bookings, loss of income, finding financial support, and more:
In all the Facebook groups I’m in, for instance, I see hundreds of offers of help, advice, support, sharing of tips, experiences, contract-advice, funny anecdotes to lift spirits... you name it. It’s an awesome community to be part of, it really is.
The professionals are not sitting idle. They are still submitting photos for awards, listening to podcasts, and still creating. Law believes that "this shows how photographers are a resilient bunch. We know that we're going to get through this, and we're not going to sit in the background during it. We'll be proactive, helping others as much as possible, while also focusing on our businesses, pushing forward as much as we can."
What are your predictions for the future of the wedding industry?
Images used with the permission of Alan Law.
Some changes I will expect to happen.
- Clients and vendors will take a closer look at their cancellations policies in future contracts. And there will be a lot more discussions about those. Clients pretty much never talked to me about what my cancellation policy is.
- A certain number of wedding industry freelancers will look for other ways of employment as a fallback. Leading to more weekend warriors (I am one of them already).
- More local & smaller / intimate weddings.
- A decline in destination weddings over the next 1-2 years. People rather staying at home and getting married at home. Either due to still existing travel restrictions or because all those cases of people getting stuck when borders were closed and flights cancelled do not seem too attractive and you never know when a 2nd,3rd,4th ... wave of the virus would strike.
I think that's a great point about cancellations policy. I feel like it won't just get re-written and looked at for contracts but also highlighted and mentioned more during consultations/e-mails before booking! I usually focused more on when final payment is due etc rather than cancellations when discussing the contracts so I think there'll be a shift in the communication and what we think is important to highlight to clients.
Exactly. Because before, cancelling or even just postponing a wedding was not a likely option, wasn't it? :)
It only happend on rare occasions that couples either rescheduled the wedding (because they were early in the planning process and booked some vendors pre-maturely). Or the really rare case of cancellation due to the couple having split up.