About two years ago, right in the middle of the wedding season, I hit a problem. A big problem. It was the day before a big wedding. I was looking at my camera gear, preparing to clean lenses and charge the batteries. I stopped still and just looked at my cameras. My wife asked me what was wrong, and I couldn’t really place my finger on it, but I knew one thing – I didn’t want to shoot the wedding the next day.
It was a big jolt and the first time it had ever happened to me. The wedding was to be fine; a lovely couple and a gorgeous venue, so I knew there was no issue there. What was it then that was making me baulk at the idea of photographing the wedding the next day? I genuinely did not want to do it.
Of course, I shot the wedding and it was fine – but I realised that being a “working wedding photographer” had saturated me. As a wedding photographer I would often sit in my editing room all week – sometimes with no interaction with other people at all – editing, designing albums, dealing with emails, organising print orders, burning DVDs, and running backups. I was in the middle of a run of 50 plus weddings and I realised that I’d become pretty isolated and lonely in what I once thought was the perfect business for me.
When you work alone during the week it can become tiresome, and the lack of human interaction I found was putting stress on my self-belief and my business as a whole. I could find solace in Twitter and online forums, etc., but at the end of the day, it was turning into a bit of a grind and I found myself in a rut. I genuinely had lost the passion for my equipment and for the art that I used to love so much before I had stepped into it in a professional capacity.
I’m not alone either. I know a lot of photographers, wedding photographers specifically, who thought that turning their love of photography into a business would be the perfect scenario. Actually, the reality is that 95 percent of the time is spent running the business and only five percent of it is actually taking photos. With me, this manifested into almost a hatred of the daily grind of wedding photography.
I knew I had to do something, so I made a conscious effort to take up some personal photography projects, which I hoped would give me a new spark of energy. I have always had a love of street and documentary photography, and had shot some in the past but had completely let that lapse. It was time to reignite that passion. I decided to take at least one day every two weeks, in a nearby city perhaps, or even on my travels to London, to simply shoot on the street, enjoying myself.
I also took the opportunity to get into sports photography. I am a huge rugby union fan, and it seemed only right that, with some of my fast Canon equipment, I could use shooting rugby as another means to reignite the passion. I emailed a few of my local professional teams and enquired about the opportunity to get a pitch side accreditation. Many denied my request, but a couple of the teams obliged, for which I was very grateful.
I just wanted to get in there, enjoy shooting and enjoy the images that I created. The sports photography really opened up a new avenue of enjoyment, and I actively feed off this now whenever I can. Of course, being a wedding photographer, a lot of my Saturdays are taken up with work, but when I can I try to get pitch side to simply switch off and do something I absolutely love doing. Because I am not shooting for profit, I make sure that any print sales that do come from the sports shooting go straight to my designated charity. I have had sales, and I’ve even booked weddings as a direct result of my sports photography. Sports photography is my ultimate relaxation, really. I enjoy the image making, and during the game my mind is simply focused on the game.
One of the perks of being self-employed is having the ability to simply pick up the camera and go out and shoot. So few of us do this. As long as the business side of things has been taken care of, I now try and do this as much as possible. I am in the process of doing a project in my local town based on portraiture of many local elderly residents. Again, this will not be for profit – but I found out the hard way that I need to have something to keep the spark alive, other than just wedding photography.
I know some photographers who are in the same situation as I was a couple of years ago. The simple answer is to seek out something you enjoy doing – and do it. Too many of us have an idea but don’t push those ideas forward. Way too many of us spend too long in front of computers, on social networks, editing, etc. The business needs to be your priority, of course, but if it becomes laborious you need to do something to refuel your energy for photography. We are in a very lucky position as photographers to have such a creative medium at hand which allows us to do this.
Kevin’s images are a breath of fresh air for the wedding industry. Shooting primarily in B&W, his documentary approach to capturing all the special moments that happen throughout an event really brings out the emotion, character and complexity of his subjects. As a leader in the wedding industry, Kevin is not only a photographer to watch, he’s one to learn from. You can view Kevin’s professional website here: https://kevinmullinsphotography.co.uk/