It’s October and for most of us, weddings are beginning to wind down for another year. The end of the summer season marks the beginning of a slightly slower pace over the coming winter months. At this point in the year more time is spent in the office catching up on editing and admin than it is out shooting. This brings a little more flexibility to our schedules and weekends are once more spent with loved ones rather than being on the road. A bit of time off is well earned and largely well received, especially for the introverts among us.
End of season struggles
For many photographers this time of year can be difficult though. Autumn and Winter also marks the beginning of a period that can feel quite isolated. Working at home, alone, within the same four walls all day, every day, can be lonely. After a buzzing summer that’s very people focused, it can take some adjusting finding yourself spending most of your days alone.
It’s easy to understand how loneliness can creep up on you. It’s well documented and much talked about in the industry. Lots of photographers make a point of networking, socialising and focusing on personal development during these quieter months. If nothing else, these things provide much needed company and the human interaction.
Being a wedding photographer when you’re an introvert
At the other end of the spectrum however are people like me. Introverts. I have never seen shyness, introversion or anxiety discussed or acknowledged within the photography community. It’s almost like it’s taboo to work in a very people positive industry whist simultaneously not necessarily being a people person. Or is it because we’re all too shy, or worried to admit that we don’t actually thrive on social interaction in the same way that many of our peers do? From the outside everyone in the photography world is bubbly and confident and real peopley people. It’s as if those qualities are almost a prerequisite of being a wedding photographer. But that’s certainly not true of all of us.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and getting to know my couples. I love giving them 110%. But I do find it mentally exhausting and emotionally draining at times. I really do have to make a focused effort to be everything they need me to be, because it doesn’t come naturally for me to be an open book. I am just not someone who feels most at home in a sea of faces. Admittedly over the years it has become easier, more natural and more routine. The end of the season still always feels like a huge burden has been lifted though. It feels like I can finally breath again knowing that I can put away the mask for a while.
Whilst some find the newfound isolation a shock to the system, I relish in the silence of my own company. I delight in the prospect of full weeks where I can be nothing but myself. Where I don’t have to smile my way through or converse or even get dressed. The end of wedding season is my time to heal and recover from months of stretching myself emotionally and living outside of my comfort zone. It’s an opportunity to reset and recharge my internal battery so that when things do all kick off again, i’m back on top form and ready to give it my all.
I used to beat myself up about how relieved I felt when weddings were done for another year. Not because of the weddings themselves or the couples. Just the constant need to be happy and upbeat and smiley and confident and whole. That takes so much emotional energy and in peak season there is barely any time to recover wedding to wedding. I’d consistently wonder whether I was in the wrong profession because I am not a bubbly, confident person whilst all my counterparts seemed to be.
Work related socialising
I’d question why, at the end of a busy summer the absolute last thing in the world I wanted to do was go to networking events or socials when it seemed to be all that anyone else was talking about. Should I force myself to go? There have been times when i’ve made myself do things that I didn’t necessarily want to because I thought it was part and parcel of being a wedding photographer. If you’re a wedding photographer, you go on workshops right? You do the coffee shop socials thing. Although I lived to see another day in each case, I don’t necessarily feel that I took much away from those experiences. I don’t feel that I gave much either, because I just didn’t have the energy to. Not physically, but mentally.
I think for a long time I felt guilty for that. Guilty for not being interested in those kind of things and for not “getting” them. For not wanting to socialise or co-work, or meet for brunch. For not being able to give the best of myself. At times I’d wind myself up silly wondering if people thought I was rude, or weird or a snob.
It may be age or experience, or a combination of the two, but I have come to accept that there is no one textbook way to be a photographer. There is no unwritten rule that you must do this or that. And you should certainly never live outside of your comfort zone beyond what it necessary for your job to simply appease others.
I shoot passionately with an open heart and an open mind. I am creative and discreet and efficient. I am calm and collected, helpful and kind. I am professional and empathetic. I value my couples and understand the importance of getting it right. I invest myself fully and completely into my couples day, even when it pushes me so far out of my comfort zone that I feel like I could puke- because that’s what they deserve. I am also an introvert. I have so many qualities that make me good at what I do, it just so happens that the fire in my belly isn’t ignited by being around others when I don’t have to be.
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