NINJA: What are you doing to future proof your career to prevent burning out?
This is actually something that I have been very intentional on. It was 1st drilled into me by my mentor and then I started to see it happen time and time again within the wedding photography industry. I’m yet to meet a wedding photographer that has a solid and robust plan for how they are ensuring they don’t burn out and how they will transition out of shooting weddings. I know for myself, I don’t want to be 65 and photographing a 20 year old bride. There’s probably a select few that can successfully pull that off, but like any successful business I can’t rest on the fact that wedding photography will always be what it is now; so how can I ensure I can still support a family in 5-10 years time?
I’ve seen a lot of wedding photographers book themselves to the brim with 60-70 weddings a year and then get halfway through the season burnt out. So, I’m capping my weddings at around 30 a year. I owe this service to myself, my family and the couples. If I’m burnt out, it’s not fair on anyone, including myself. I’m also making sure I only book weddings that I know I have a connection with. For me it’s not simply about filling my calendar with 30 bookings a year, but ensuring they are quality bookings where I know I will enjoy working with the couples.
I’m not 100% sure I’ll be shooting weddings in 10 years time but I’ll give it a red hot go! Anything could happen to me or the industry in that time so I’ll enjoy it while I can, but also work on diversifying my income if there is ever a need to change careers. One thing we got into early was property. It’s a pretty solid and robust way to invest. We’ve made our equity work for us and made wise decisions and gone in with a long term plan of investment.
I have shot a lot of travel photography and commercial work in the last 5 years, so I have a solid portfolio that could keep me going if I wanted to continue shooting professionally but move out of weddings. I have also been deliberate to make contacts and build relationships outside of the wedding industry. Most of them have actually come through weddings I have shot.
My wife and I are currently working on launching an online business that will hopefully be another income stream and we have some other business ventures that we are planning at the moment and will look at launching within the next 12 months.
I have been intentional in dreaming with my wife and wanting to do something together, something that is ours and not just my photography business. She’s been extremely excited about that and it’s amazing how productive you are when you both can dream and keep each other accountable.
So, I’m confident that I’m not going to burn out and if in a couple of years there was a shift in the industry or something happened to me that prohibited me from shooting weddings, I’d be ok financially.