It's been an incredible summer to be a wedding photographer. Yes, it's true that overall consumer confidence is down, even when it comes to wedding spending (the so-called "recession proof" industry), and I know a lot of people, including photographers, who are struggling.
At the same time, so many amazing things are happening, I cannot help but be affected by them. So while like every other small business owner I have felt the strain of the declining economy, I have also seen more than one silver lining on this cloud, and I cannot help but feel hopeful about the future. It's funny when you've been working for something so long and then all of a sudden the day comes when everything seems to fall into place. So in order to keep things in perspective, I made a list.
Cool stuff that's happened this summer:
1. Nominated for SF Chronicle's Best of the Bay!
The Baylist Best contest allows SF Bay area citizens to choose their favorite local businesses by voting for them. This is just amazing--it's awesome just to be nominated. I'm up against some very heavy competition, photographers who have been in the limelight a lot longer than I have, as well as some of my incredibly talented friends like Lisa and James Sanders, Lilia Ahner, Tara Arrowood, and others. But I think I've got a fighting chance as long as everyone I know puts in their vote!
I also just had a look for the first time at the reviews people have left with their votes, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to read all the wonderful things people wrote about me! Here are a couple of examples:
"Lauren is able to integrate beautifully the technical aspects of photography with the heart and soul of her clients. She is a very gifted and passionate professional artist."
"Lauren a phenomenal photographer who never stops honing her craft so she can deliver the best service possible to her clients. Beside being a very talented artist, she's an amazing person who cares deeply about her clients and the meaninfulness of their weddings."I've got nine 5 star reviews on there already. Thank you so much you guys! If you haven't done so already, you can vote for me for best wedding photographer by going here.
2. My wedding pictures are in demand: images from Wedding Wednesdays get published in newspapers and broadcast on the 11 o'clock news, a KRON 4 primetime special on gay marriage, and HBO Family!
Ok, here's the backstory: The last time I was on TV, I was 8 years old. My class was interviewed by 20/20 on the subject of "gross toys" (Madballs, Garbage Pail Kids, and the like). John Stossel asked me if my mom knowingly bought these things for me, and I in all my adorable little smartass glory replied, "She buys them, she just doesn't know what she's getting into."
Let's say it all together now; "Awwww..."
So as you might imagine, getting TV attention as an adult is something entirely different. I have been inspired by these incredible weddings and the rich, varied, yet shared experiences of each couple. I am lucky to be the one to tell their stories, and thrilled at the opportunity to bring my work to a wider audience. It would be exciting to carry this work outside of the context of weddings, perhaps as a gallery show or something else having to do with the fine art world.
3. Certified by Here Comes the Guide!
Here Comes the Guide is a prestigious wedding resource that represents only the best wedding vendors in California. In order to become a part of it, you have to go through a screening process, in which they interview 30-40 references about your business, including established wedding vendors, and at least 10 actual wedding couples who have hired you. If these people don't absolutely RAVE about you, you don't get in.
I originally heard about HCTG early in my second year of business and wanted to get on board, but when I got to the part about the screening process I stopped--I couldn't even think of 15, much less 4o, wedding references I had worked with at that point. So I put it aside until a few months ago, when I looked at their site again and realized that now approaching my 5th year in business I had more than enough references and happy brides I could send them. This is actually one of the major benefits to the brides who use HCTG to find vendors: the screening process weeds out the fly by night or newbie businesses, as well as those who have a less than ideal reputation.
Unlike most other wedding resources, the text part of your listing on herecomestheguide.com is written by the staff at HCTG, made up of all the nice things your references said about you during the interview process. It's great if you are a bride, because you know that what's written about the business is not self promotional hype. I'm really excited to see what my references said about me.
4. Published in Today's Bride magazine!
I knew when I shot Tammy and Jamey's wedding last fall it was special, which is why I have a lot of images from that wedding in my sample albums and on my walls. As beautiful as the decor was, I also knew it would probably make it into at least one bridal mag. I am happy to say I was right! Two images from their wedding at the Ferry Building made it into the Idea Gallery section in the latest issue of Today's Bride. TB is a nice little publication, handbook sized, with lots of information and ideas for engaged couples. Unlike many other wedding mags there is a LOT of great photography in there and the vast majority of it is from actual weddings (as opposed to editorial photo shoots with models). TB targets an upscale but individualist, somewhat offbeat modern bride population, which makes it a great fit for my work.
5. My image of Ted and Brian wins an award from the WPJA!
This image won 5th place out of hundreds of entries in the "Emotion" category of the WPJA's Q2 wedding photojournalism contest. You can see the placement on their site here and a list of the judges and their qualifications here. Here are some of their comments on my winning image:
"From the distance and lens selection, the photographer has let us see this couple in their own world in the middle of a very big day in their lives. It’s a great picture of a couple paying complete and compassionate attention to the other."
All of the WPJA contests are judged by critically acclaimed working photojournalists and news photographers at the top of their field. Having judges like these insures that the winning images maintain a high standard of journalistic integrity and storytelling, and are of sufficient quality to stand on their own, outside the context of weddings. This is my third WPJA winning image this year.