Alright friends, I want to get real with y’all and talk about something tough today. In an Instagram “highlight only” world, I feel like it’s easy to see other wedding photographers’ success and think that the things that have happened to you could never happen to them!
Well, let me tell ya. We all make mistakes. We all experience BIG failures. It’s about how you raise from those failures that matter so let’s chat about how to stay motivated as a wedding photographer after a big failure!
If you’ve ever photographed a wedding, you know being a wedding photographer is hard work! There are a million moving parts and so many “must-have” photographs. You literally can not miss a beat!
But inevitably we all experience some sort of failure along the way.
Maybe you hired a second shooter that was horrible and was in the bathroom for literally all the important reception events?
Maybe the lighting was ROUGH and the getting ready photos were way underexposed? Thank the Lord for RAWs, am I right?
Maybe the day was so chaotic you forgot one of the most important photos on the wedding day, the bride by herself? #facepalm
Or the absolute worst … your card failed and you lost ALL the images from their wedding day?!
While we haven’t lost any wedding images (knock on wood!), we have had a lot of these epic wedding failures happen to us! So here are our actionable steps for getting through this tough time! If we can do it and so can you!
This is literally the hardest but most important step! As a business owner, you have to own up to your mistake and take responsibility for your actions. You are a kind, responsible business owner. You made a mistake and it’s going to be okay. We all make mistakes.
What’s worse than losing your client’s images? Ghosting them for a year! I promise time is not your friend here. They will be even more upset after waiting for months and months just to find out they don’t have any photos at all! No matter what mistake you made, the sooner you can contact your client, the better and just be honest!
After you’ve apologized and owned up to your mistake, it’s how you make it up to your clients that will truly define their entire experience! In the chaos of one of our busiest weddings, we forgot to do a full-length, classic bridal portrait for one of the sweetest brides ever! It was completely our fault. The day is never to busy to get such an important photograph like that.
After her wedding, she emailed asking about that photo since she realized we might have missed it as well. We sent over all the bridal photos that we had but it didn’t include that classic full length that we know she wanted and that we ALWAYS get!
She sent us an email explaining how upset she was, and understandably so! We were upset with ourselves! In almost a decade of shooting weddings, that had NEVER happened before! We offered to not only do an entire “day after” photo session with her and her groom but we also hired an incredible makeup artist to her hair and makeup just like she had it on the wedding day. Also, one of our florist friends replicated her bouquet so she didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket.
This was a tough situation where WE made a mistake but instead of dwelling on it, we turned it into an added experience for the bride! Her day was pretty rushed and this allowed for her to have not only an entire 2-hour session to redo her bridal portraits but also SO many more beautiful photos of her and her groom!
This is what customer service is all about! It’s not about being perfect! It’s about doing whatever it takes to make your client’s happy! Was that easy for us to do all of that? No, it required a lot of time and resources to make up for this mistake. Was it worth it? 150%! Because now that sweet bride has nothing but nice things to say about us. Sure, we made a mistake but we made it up to her tenfold.
Once you’ve made things right, make sure to forgive yourself! As creatives, I feel like we always take things so personally. We are too hard on ourselves. We lose sleep over mistakes like this!
It’s hard to separate business and personal life but it’s necessary. Forgive yourself. You are human. You are allowed to make mistakes every now and then, which brings me to my next point.
Take preventative measures to make sure that whatever mistake you made will never happen again! I hired one bad second photographer for one of my first weddings. They were completely MIA for so many big moments during the reception. I learned from that and never hired them again!
Learn from your mistakes and do whatever you can to prevent that same mistake from happening. If your memory card failed, make sure you are writing to two cards at once! Or maybe your hard drive failed – make sure you don’t clear your memory cards until you’ve backed up the images in at least two places! If you forgot a specific photo (like we did), make sure to include those obvious photos in the photo list timeline next time!
Now that you have owned up to your mistake, you’ve made it up to your client (to the best of your ability), you’ve forgiven yourself and taken all the necessary steps to make sure it NEVER happens again, it’s time to clear your mind!
We let things like this, big mistakes in our wedding photography business, take a toll on our mindset! Immediately, we go down a rabbit hole of unworthiness. We aren’t good enough. Maybe we weren’t ever meant to be wedding photographers. You name it! These big mistakes can eat away at us.
But you have to change your mindset! You are simply human. You are doing the best you can and serving your clients in the sweetest way possible. Remove those negative thoughts and focus on what you do right! For that one mistake, you probably did 1000 things right as their wedding photographer.
Keep your mind focused on the good because what you focus on becomes your reality, friend! And if you need an extra push in changing your mindset, here’s our free guide on the 5 Proven Ways To Shift Your Mindset When You Just Want to Quit 👇
I hope these 5 tips on how to stay motivated as a wedding photographer & survive a big failure helps get you through tough times. If you are going through a big failure right now, please know we are thinking about you and here for you!