Ask The Photographers: What Do You Do During The Quiet-Season?
We’re approaching the time of year when, for many wedding photographers, the season starts to wind down – as is what a very famous phrase now, “Winter is coming”. So, we thought we’d ask some of our members just what they do during this off/low/quiet season.
What follows is a round-up from more than 30 of our photographers, with some brilliant and wide-ranging advice and opinions, on subjects such as taking on personal photography projects, re-focusing on your family and relationships (something that is just so vital), updating portfolios, catching up on sleep, working on SEO (shudder), getting away from the screen, re-charging our batteries, planning a marketing strategy, travel, social media reviews, attending workshops, keeping fit, meeting up with fellow photographers, cleaning the house, and much, much more – a really, really interesting piece!
“During the ‘down time’, I also try and take on a specific project to push me creatively in a field of photography I am not used to. Last year my project came to me without looking for it, I was asked to capture the birth of a good friends child. Something very scary but instead of running the other way, I jumped at the chance. This was not something I had anticipated and knew anything about so it came with a lot of unknown challenges ‘would I get to London in time’, would the midwife’s let me in’, would I freak out and faint at the sight’ etc etc. But somehow it all came together and was one of the best things to happen to me in my photographic career to date. No more explaining, just watch the slideshow. https://www.mikistudios.com/birth-photography/” – Ash
“I would say that for anyone in a relationship or married or have kids ensure you dedicate time to your family. Your partner is your back bone (most of the time) and it’s easy to become absorbed by the wedding industry / booking more weddings, it’s a little addictive.
My advice would be to ensure you spend time without any work, put your phone down and talk, spend time with your kids – don’t lose sight of your relationships. A lot of people seem to get divorced when starting out and not having that clear time set aside for family.” – Andy
“Just reading what everyone has written here. What Andy said (above) has struck a chord with me – our first born is 6 weeks old and work has been so hectic of late. My partner has been amazing throughout and will most definitely be taking time out after December (quiet period is January, February next year). In that quiet time, I like to recap the business as a whole and work on updating my website, get more efficient and better with editing.” – Barry
“When I started my own personal journey, it was as an artist, and a landscape photographer. This was where I learnt my craft, my love of big open wide spaces. It allowed me the freedom of being selfish, to create for pleasure…nothing more. Today I find this still as important, if not more so, than ever before. A way to unwind and enjoy my art of creating images….when the wedding season starts I am reinvigorated, refreshed and ready for my beautiful couples once more. Lately I have taken to doing at least one or two landscaping session mid season too. This helps rebalance my own life, to reaffirm who I am, and to help me make sure my couples get the very best I can offer them…as good enough is never good enough. I always need to be at my best, and this really does help me to achieve this.” – Philip.
“We enjoy a bit of downtime, catching up with loved ones who we can’t catch up with during peak season. Simon likes to decorate – at the tidy house’s expense! Plus, we deal with the SEO work, website and I’m still trying to catch up with last years blog posts – let alone this years ?
Simon wants to add – Fifa19 ? and beat-making on his Maschine – he doesn’t get time to make music at all except for during the winter.. He’s always got time for Fifa though, he’s even befriended grooms through this and they are now in on the action ?” – S2 Images.
“I do lots of blogging, a bit of SEO and the like, but mainly, I just wanna unplug and spend some time away from my screen! I always like to take time off before I get back to it and have a mini self-critique of the last year, so I know what to work on for the next one!” – Dan
“I try not to book weddings during the winter, unless they sound amazing and I can’t resist! This 4-6 months ‘off’ gives me the time to catch up on all the things I’ve put off during wedding season, mostly DIY tasks it has to be said.. The obvious website attention rears it’s ugly head too.. not sure whether I’d rather do that or strip wallpaper. The extra time also gives me the chance to get to more local gigs and indulge myself in some music photography. I really enjoy this type of photography, especially the challenging light and fast moving subjects. The facial expressions and visible high-energy can provide for some excellent images, and I’m free to edit in a much more extreme way than I can with weddings. I much prefer it to street photography as I don’t have to ‘find something to shoot’, there’s already something there, evolving and constantly changing, I just need to capture it well.” – Paul
“At the end of the wedding season I always try to pick up the personal projects that I have pending. In the particular case of the “nomads” (https://loungefotografia.smartslides.com/nomadas) I’m capturing the way of living of one family and their business. They take their business (bumper cars) from land to land, mounting and dismantling with the help of their workers, not always in the best of conditions. It’s a hard and heavy work. I want to capture the side that nobody usually sees, before everything is ready and what happens after the parties in the villages.
Another thing that I love is to get lost in the streets shooting people and unexpected situations. I love to connect with strangers and to get to know their story.” – Luis
“I clean the house. I clean like a mad thing until I can actually see surfaces again. And I take long rainy walks across Dartmoor with my dog. I parent and I fall in love with cooking again because I finally have time. And I overhaul my website and other marketing materials, swapping out last year’s content for this years.” – Lucy
“I’m usually busy editing/culling right up to New Year so quiet season for me runs from Mid Jan to early April. I normally try and squeeze in a little winter sun, review my branding, advertising, website SEO etc. I also push for as much Corporate work as possible to keep the cash flowing, plus a few winter family shoots and anything else that can help keep the wolf from the door. Any conferences or wedding socials going on that I can attend are great to give me some rare quality chat time with friends in the industry as well.
It’s also a great time for me to put some time into the gym as it’s mid Basketball season for me also. I can build up strength for the coming wedding season and try and eat clean, post Christmas too.
As much as I enjoy being able to focus on other aspects of my life, I always miss the buzz of wedding photography and am itching for April to come around to put all that inspiration into practice again!” – Rafe
“Apart from the odd wedding to shoot, I will be looking at the optimisation of processes in the office, setting up my CRM system properly and looking at ways I can save time on admin and time at the computer. The goal is to spend more time with my family and friends during the busy periods as I haven’t had much over the last 6 months, it can be difficult at times. From a creativity point of view, I look to work on personal projects away from weddings, get the studio lighting out, call in some friends and create something totally different, mix it up a bit, reach into my inner dark side, a total contrast from wedding work.” – Alex
“During the winter months here Chicago, I take wedding commissions in Austin, Texas and Riviera Maya/Cancun, Mexico where it’s warm all year round. I also work on marketing and occasionally take on a special project.” – Sandy
“As newbies to the industry our downtime lasts for a few months! Besides my day job as a teacher kicking back in after the summer I find that I need a month (or two!) to reflect on the year, what I have learnt, what was good and what could be better in order to go back to the website, the marketing, the bloody SEO at around half term in October. This couple of months gives me the chance to create a roadmap of things to do rather than just trying to do everything and anything that comes to mind. I find it much more productive to have one or two realistic targets to complete before Christmas and then a couple more to do from Christmas to February. This way I can dedicate time to the various things and make sure I complete them properly.
Other than picking out those few things to work on I make sure to enjoy my Saturdays with my little girl and get outside with her to the park or the fields and just enjoy life!” – LLG Photography
“My advice for anyone who can see light at the end of the wediting tunnel, is to dedicate some time to GET CREATIVE! I’m pretty lucky this time of year as it’s when my school & nursery bookings kick in (something else for you to think about) so I find this much needed Autumn slump a perfect time to get your grey matter thinking outside the box. I start tentatively getting in touch with my favourite and most reliable suppliers and set about organising a styled shoot with a few looks at a local venue with the sole aim of producing outstanding content for our websites and possibly submit to blogs to help generate enquiries. I also highly recommend going with your gut and creating something entirely different to what you normally shoot. I always like to do things differently so here’s a couple of impromtu shoots I’ve done to help me keep my creative juices flowing out of season and keep my OCF & light painting technique(s) fresh. Don’t forget to tag the shizzle out of any involved suppliers/venues/models across your socials and uses hashtags you never normally use on your day to day images to attract new followers.
“I spend more time doing what is actually my passion: street photography. I’ve always said street photography is what fuels my approach to wedding photography anyway. I rarely look at other wedding photographers for inspiration, instead it’s looking at and going out and doing street photography that keeps me fired up.
www.dlehanestreet.co.uk” – Darren
“For me it only gets really quiet January February this year. I then look at my website, SEO (well trying to anyway), blog posts, features, other paperwork and most importantly going travelling and sometimes working on a travel story while I do so. It’s mainly surf travel. I love documenting the cultures and places I visit following that passion. My fiancé does the writing part and together we worked on numerous travel stories. It’s a nice change to the world of wedding photography, I find it really refreshing to work on some different projects when I get the time. Well and just getting out and about, spending time with friends, family, walk my dog, mountain bike and surf more.” – Alexa
“Winter is all about getting the things done that you don’t have time to do in the summer wedding season and one of the biggest things is planning and strategising. I encourage the photographers I coach to sit down and look back on the year and be honest about what has worked, what hasn’t worked, where there are opportunities and what areas are watch-outs. It’s so important to reflect and then make a plan. The amount of people who are worrying about bookings but don’t have any form of marketing plan astounds me. Winter is the time to do it.
Overall the big things to analyse are your marketing, and within that your online presence (website and social media), your business profitability, your business/workflow efficiency and your client experience (which for me is massively important). Take time to shut away from daily noise to look at these and on the back of this we should all make adjustments accordingly. It’s very easy to get stuck in the same ways but this is a very competitive industry and being open to change is incredibly important.” – Jonny. As well as a working wedding photographer, Jonny also runs Develop Coaching.
“I fall back into a regular job which balances an income over the winter. And like many others use the time to catch up on blogs, website stuff and SEO. I also try to shoot more live music which is one of my other loves of photography, lots of good local stuff and some bigger touring bands going on to keep me going. And plenty of family time, I’ve a two year old to keep us busy and another on the way!” – Brian
“This year my winter will be spent working on how to better realign my business and my personal time to balance across the year. After the recent unexpected death of a close friend, one whom I was waiting until my workload dropped before taking a photo of him & his wife with their new baby outside their new home, it’s driven home not only what I talk about so much day in day out with my couples (the importance of photographs of those relationships and moments that we cherish) but also the length to which I neglect my own personal precious relationships when I get lost in the intensity of wedding season. So I’ll be working on a strategy to ensure I don’t go for months over the summer without spending time with the people that mean the most. I’ll also be travelling overseas to work on some more landscape images for a new website I’m building.
I also work in events a couple of days a week all year round, because I love the people I work with, so ‘downtime’ is never truly ‘downtime’ for me, just a less hectic version of my life!
• collect your thoughts
• take some time to photograph something you find fun for your own personal indulgence.
• get some early nights
• spend time away from screens and with those that matter most
• take a bit of time to reconnect with what excites you about your business at a time when you’re probably feeling exhausted; be it workshops, you tube videos, travel etc etc.
• meet up with fellow photographers for a good old post-season knees up/debrief/Chance to re-engage with feeling inspired.” – Amy
“During the season I make a little list titled ‘Winter Projects’. This includes jobs that I need to complete to continue as a business. Sometimes we are so busy in the wedding season with meetings, attending actual weddings and of course all of that editing! The running a business side of things tends to get neglected. This off season my projects include brushing up my seo skills, a couple of new pages on this website, new portfolio, tinkering on my business photography site and new sample album.
So plenty of things to do before the season kicks off again. And of course the perpetual task of improving my tennis games continues in earnest!” – Sacha
“Personally, by the time it hits the end of the year I have had it with weddings. I just take myself away as much as possible from the wedding world. I find I need this to reinvigorate myself and get me back firing for the following year. I will spend more time with my wife and my two daughters, give them 100% on the weekends as I miss so many through the season. I keep myself busy doing the DIY stuff around the house I’ve been promising to do all year, making plans to see friends and family and making sure we get a family break, usually up to the Lake District, just to avoid anything wedding related.
I find this is the best way to make sure I am ready for the next years worth of weddings. Ironically I’m a guest at my wife’s best friends wedding in February, there’s just no way to completely avoid them ?” – James
“I did have an off season last year from December to April so the wife got me catching up on all those DIY jobs that were building up :-). This year I have no off-season as I am shooting right through until the end of December and then my next wedding is first of Feb. When I do get some time I try to brush up on my skills and get some new marketing material together.
To be honest I don’t think I actually get any time off as when I am not photographing weddings I am designing websites for other businesses, training, SEO, graphic design work and also some commercial photography work. When I do find time to chill I usually fit in some Aikido and Wing Chun and spend time with the family and the dogs and oh of course some catching up on the drinks as so may Saturdays lost :-)” – Steven
“During the down season I always go on at least one overseas street photography trip to boost my creativity and excitement for photography; as photography can feel more like a job, rather than a passion by the end of the wedding season.
It’s so refreshing exploring a new people, culture and place with your camera. It’s a great way to immerses yourself in the country, while also testing your photography skills. I do these trips with up to 9 other photographers which has the bonus of learning from other talented togs. Over meals we look over each others photos to see how others have seen and creatively interrupted the same location and receive critique on our own work.
The whole trip is a great reminder of how lucky we are to be able to have a job like this.
Last year was India (highlights here) and this year is Colombia – we leave in 5 weeks, can’t wait!!” – Matt
“Last year I didn’t have an “off season” which I found tough but my family found even tougher. This year I have purposefully not taken on any December bookings. I’ve reserved it for spending time with family. We’re relocating in the new year so we’re planning on doing as many short trips away as possible, including a few adults-only getaways! So far we have a motorhome holiday to Scotland, eurostar trip to Bruges for the Christmas Markets and some day trips booked in. In terms of work, whenever I have a bit of downtime, I’ll be looking at ways of marketing towards Australia.” – Yasmina
“I try to work on personal projects in photography, to let my creative side come out. This year I went on an 8 day workshop where the goal was to create a totally new creative photo series, here is the link! It was a very intimate story for me, migration, family ties, so I loved telling the story of this family!
“Currently enjoying a much needed family holiday in Spain after a hectic summer. One more wedding to go! Looking forward to some downtime as I have just set up a darkroom. Wedding photography is so rapid with so little time to think so I’m really looking forward to slowing down and having a good look through the lens to see what I can find. Never thought I would be back in the darkroom but I can’t wait. I can already smell the chemicals.?” – Anthony
“During low season, the most important thing to do is to TRAVEL (vacation mode)!!! We always take 1 month off, away from computers, in the middle of nature somewhere in the world! Traveling inspires us, renews us! We always come back with good energy/vibe for the new season! ?” – R2Arte Photography
“Quiet time means enjoying family weekends again! Although I love putting some inspiration and energy back into my business over winter, I love to spend time with my girls, enjoying downtime! Working weekends makes me really appreciate the ones I get at home! Baking, watching movies and winter walks with the dog are high on the agenda for our time together.” – Claire
“What usually happens during the off season is I play football, but I end up getting injured and I have to spend a few weeks prior to the first wedding of the year hobbling around trying to recover! So I’ve decided not to do it this year and take up something less likely to cause me pain, maybe abseiling.” – Lionel
Downtime for us is typically between Sep-Nov. Since Ekta and I are married, and we also work together, here is what we end up doing:
- Try to get our bodies back into shape and/or order
- Get back to a simpler diet & workout plan
- Making time for family & friends
- Within Mumbai, as well as visiting some special people outside India
- We spend a lot of time with our dog, Crusoe at home – we love him and miss him a lot when we travel
- Spend more time on personal projects (such as street photography, I’m releasing a documentary edit on the Pushkar camel festival in a few days)
- Workshops (online and offline)
- Every couple of months, we try to understand the challenges we are facing and figure out the right photographers/filmmakers whose workshops will help us
- Study, study, study
- Work of other photographers
- Movies, music, films
- Sleep, oh sleep
“This off season I have decided to try and escape from the computer. One thing that I have decided to do is to invest in myself. Afterall you can’t pour from an empty glass. My heads been in a strange place all year but one thing that is helping me to overcome this is exercise. A couple of months ago I decided to invest in a personal trainer (very indulgent for a Yorkshire man). Having someone each week to encourage me on my journey (or kick my ass) has motivated me to get back to the gym. Eating healthy (ish) and doing some activity has given me more energy to generally do everything else. It also makes those really long wedding days a lot easier, so I just want to continue my fitness journey.” – John
“When coming from a fine art study I always want to do my own projects to discover and learn more about myself. Within the wedding season there is less time, but for me wedding photography is also a form of digging into yourself and what you like most, so it actually never stops.
Last year I thought about going abroad to a warmer island and do some underwater photography, something I did when I studied, but now with wedding couples, because I thought it might me super interesting and inspirational. So I did and went to Ibiza! 😀
Next to the Ibiza story and most important, seeing friends and family I abandoned all season, I’m kidding! But sometime I feel like a terrible friend when you are always saying you are busy. When this comes to mind I quit the work I’m busy with and see that friend. A wedding can wait for a few days right?
It’s just super important that you take time for these amazing people around you and also capture them, your own life and everything around that is beautiful!” – Denise
Thanks so much to our TiR members who contributed to this piece. If you found it interesting, you may like to see some of our previous ‘Ask The Photographers’ articles, such as ‘What would you look for in a wedding photographer’, and ‘Are two photographers better than one?’
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