Can an introvert be a successful wedding or portrait photographer- YES.

Can an Introvert be a Successful Wedding Photographer?

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A while ago, I read a blog post written by a popular photographer in which she made a comment that got me thinking.

She said something to the effect of you have to be a “people person” to be a successful wedding photographer.

I wholeheartedly believe she meant well with this comment, and in many ways, I agree with her. But I also think that the comment can be interpreted the wrong way, and cause some people, particularly introverts, to second-guess their ability to succeed in wedding [or portrait] photography.

I’ve written multiple posts already about being an introvert, and about the misconceptions people have about introverts and some of the struggles we face. I’ve read and LOVED Susan Cain’s widely popular book “Quiet”, which is probably what led to me analyze the comment in the first place.

Can an introvert be a successful wedding or portrait photographer- YES. | Can an introvert be a successful photographer?

A couple things I want to talk about… The first thing to consider is what exactly is a People Person?

The Extrovert Ideal

Susan Cain’s whole first part of the book is about what she calls the Extrovert Ideal. Summed up, it’s basically the fact that for the last 110 years, our culture has applauded outgoing, charming extroverts. It’s become the way we want our children to be, and the mark of “successful people”.

We are drawn to people who can fire us up, capture our attention and do this all while hardly breaking a sweat while talking to a crowd of thousands.

Oftentimes, this is what people mean when they refer to a “people person.” Someone who loves to be around other people, loves engaging with people, and quite often loves to be in the limelight.

While these characteristics are great in many areas of life, the downside of this Extrovert Ideal is that it makes those of us who are less outgoing, less gregarious and less spotlight-seeking feel inferior.

That’s why the comment bothered me. Because the undertone, whether intentional or not, implies that someone who isn’t a “People Person” can’t be a successful people photographer.

Basically, if you’re a more reserved introvert, you should learn to like photographing food, buildings and mountains, because you’re not going to succeed with people.

I disagree.

 

The difference between a “People Person” and appreciating people:

I am not sure what the other photographer’s personal definition of “People Person” is.

But I want to make sure that introverted photographers out there know that you can have a heart that is determined to serve people without being what society calls a “People Person”.

If you are interested in people’s stories and you have a desire to photograph and tell those stories, you have the potential to be a successful people photographer.

Even if you’re quiet.

Even if you’re an introvert.

Even if your armpits sweat any time you have two or more people looking at you. [Guilty as charged.]

If you have it on your heart to capture images of people’s stories, that’s the most important thing.

 

Can Introverts make successful wedding and portrait photographers?

This answer is a resounding YES.

I know several portrait and wedding photographers [myself included] who love documenting people’s stories and who do so in line with their introverted personalities.

That said, the main issue that prompted the other photographer’s post and comment was about directing clients and engaging with them while shooting.

Unless your photography approach is completely photo journalistic, all portrait and wedding photographers need to be able to interact and lead their clients. Most people aren’t models and they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing during a shoot.

So yes, even introverts need to be able to develop their posing and directing skills to be able to move their couples into various poses during a session, and do so in a happy, fun way that keeps the clients comfortable and at ease.

This can be daunting for anyone, but especially an introvert.

If you aren’t able to master this skill of direction, that’s when you would either need to run your business with a completely photojournalistic approach in which you’re a fly on the wall and don’t pose your clients at all, or maybe find a different photography niche that suits you better.

– – –

But if you truly do enjoy photographing people and you want to document people’s stories, there are ways to increase your skills for directing and posing clients.

1. Practice, practice, practice.

Just like many things in life, the more you practice posing people, the better you’ll get at it. You will begin to form a routine and you’ll learn what works for YOU and what doesn’t. You’ll begin to hone your skills.

2. Master 3-4 poses.

It’s a great idea to learn a couple of your favorite poses and make sure that you practice and memorize them until you can visualize them in your sleep.

This will allow you to have a few tricks up your sleeve as a starting point for when you are posing and leading your clients.

You can always build off of them, or maybe you’ll be inspired to try something new when you start shooting.

But by having a few key poses up your sleeve, you’ll be ready in case you’re feeling less than fully confident.

3. Prepare.

One way to set yourself up for success is to pre-scout your area.

This helps you become familiar with your shooting options, and minimizes wedding day surprises.

Of course there are variables that come into play like the weather on the day of the session, but being familiar with your shooting area helps remove some of the unknowns.

4. Make Lists.

Another tip is to make a list of photos you need to take.

I’m not talking the huge list of the thousands of shots you should take during a wedding day.

But a list of the family formals you want to make sure you take is a great idea, and a way for you to free your mind from having to memorize them.

You could also create yourself a small cheat sheet for bride and groom portraits or the wedding party to have in case your brain freezes up under pressure.

If you’re an introvert that really wants to be a successful people photographer, these tips can help you develop your skills and help you lead your clients with confidence.

– – –

I agree with the photographer’s sentiment that if you don’t like people, you might not be the best people photographer. If you truly couldn’t care less if you are photographing a piece of cheesecake or a bride and groom, then you probably aren’t interested in people’s stories and don’t genuinely want to capture the best possible images that you can for them.

If that is the case, the world needs other types of photographers besides people photographers. You’ll better serve yourself and your clients by finding the niche of photography that you are passionate about.

However, even if you’re a reserved introvert, and even if you don’t consider yourself a “People Person” by popular definition, this doesn’t mean that you’ll fail at photographing people.

That’s the main reason I wanted to write this post.

 

There are Introverted Photographers AND Introverted Clients:

If you have it on your heart to photograph people, you can do it even if you’re an introvert through and through. In fact, by staying true to who you are rather than trying to be someone that you’re not, you will actually attract your ideal clients to you.

There are many couples who aren’t loud and outgoing. A loud, outgoing photographer might not be the best fit for them.

But you, the introverted photographer who has a softer way of speaking, and who instructs and poses with a milder touch; you might be the perfect fit for them.

Only by staying true to yourself will you be able to connect with the right clients, which will bless BOTH you and them in the long run.

– – –

If you are an introvert and you dream of being a successful photographer, YOU CAN DO THIS.

Through practice and preparation, you too can masterfully lead your clients and capture photographs that they’ll cherish forever. All while staying true to and being proud of who you are, rather than being angry or embarrassed about being an introvert.

Can an introvert be a successful wedding or portrait photographer- YES. | Can an introvert be a successful photographer?

– – –

P.S. If you’re an introvert and you find yourself feeling guilty about it or wishing you were different, I HIGHLY recommend you read Quiet by Susan Cain. I believe it has the power to change how our society views introverts. At the very least, it will help you realize that you’re not broken. In fact, you have huge value and many unique strengths, just the way you are.

P.P.S. I also wrote about How to Avoid Burnout, especially if you’re an introverted photographer in another blog post. You can find that post here.

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15 thoughts on “Can an Introvert be a Successful Wedding Photographer?

    • Hi Jeffrey!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m so glad you came across my post and that it impacted you.

      I just took a look at your site and your photos really struck me. You are very talented; I am moved after looking through your gallery.

      Keep up the good work; the world needs your art!

      Laura

  1. How did you know? I have been attending workshops to build my portfolio so far they have all been portrait photography. I like meeting new people even though it is out of my comfort zone. And interested in their stories. But have trouble directing and posing the models. I don’t know what to say or do. I often fee discouraged for not being a “people person” This was a great post. 🙂

    • Hi Stephanie!

      I am so glad you came across this post and found it encouraging!

      I pray that as you practice, you will find courage in directing and posing your models. It might not ever come perfectly easily but you will get better at it.

      I believe in you!

      Laura

  2. Hi Laura,
    This is the best article I’ve found on being an introvert trying to be a wedding photographer. I absolutely love shooting weddings, but I am horribly shy in social situations, so I know I could never make a living at being a wedding photographer – unless I could always be a second to another photographer (which I’ve done before and enjoyed) … or if I could somehow manage to attract all the couples who want a strictly photo-journalistic photographer. I absolutely hate having to ‘think on my feet’ to come up with poses while they are staring at me, waiting for me to direct them … UGH! My mind goes blank. The best bride I ever had was my friend’s daughter — she had fully thought out every single pose she wanted me to shoot, which made it super easy on me. I have managed to do a few weddings a year, but they are almost always for a friend, or a friend of a friend, so of course I always give them a big discount. At the very least, I get the benefit of doing something I love. I think I will just advertise myself strictly as a photo-journalistic photographer for now and see what happens. Thank you for writing this … I feel less alone now. 🙂 And if any of your readers live in Carroll County, Maryland, perhaps we could join forces and shoot as a team! 😉

    • Hi Lynn!

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I loved hearing about your story as a wedding photographer.

      You are absolutely not alone. I applaud you for pushing through something that is so unnatural for you in order to do something you love.

      I think it’s a great idea to begin to market yourself as a primarily photojournalistic wedding photographer. Focus on your strengths. The more you do that, the more you will attract clients who are looking for what you can provide.

      Posed portraits have their place in even the most photojournalistc wedding photography, but there are ways to make them bearable. Take a note from your favorite bride and remove the guesswork from the portrait time of the wedding day. Make a list of your favorite key poses and use that as a reference on the wedding day. You don’t need many; just a handful of great poses that you know work for you. That way, there’s no need to think on your feet on the wedding day because you already know what you are going to shoot and how you will pose them. I do this every wedding. I also make a list of groupings for family portraits. I never want to forget a key grouping so I list out all of the combinations I want to shoot and check them off as I go.

      I think it’s all about focusing on our strengths and minimizing our weaknesses, in order to continue doing what we love.

      Keep shooting and working toward your dreams! I’m rooting for you!

      Laura

  3. Love you for that! I have read other articles saying exactly “you need to be a people person…” and this statement stuck in my head since :(. I like to be around people but I am quiet and shy and…. loving photography. The funny thing is that my favourite photography is portrait and street photography. I feel very reserve because I don’t wanna creep on people on the street, so I struggle with that. However, hearing again “you are not good enough (because you are quiet) to be a people photographer” is upsetting. I have struggled with those sorts of statements since childhood because I feel we, introverts, have to try harder to be noticed.

    • Hi Aleksandra!

      I’m so happy you found my post and it resonated with you. I understand where you are coming from, and I too agree that we face a lot of extra challenges being introverts.

      I want to encourage you to continue to focus on what you love to do, and if that’s portrait and street photography, then so be it! You can rock it, in your own quiet and shy manner. Don’t try to be someone you are not; own your unique personality and it will attract the right clients to you. Also, the more you practice things that make you squirm now the easier they will get. I am still an introvert through and through, and I still get nervous before every single shoot. But with all of the practice I’ve done, I have gotten better at it, and I’m not as quiet and uncertain as I once was.

      Bless you on this journey! Thank you for reaching out!

      xo!
      Laura

  4. This is a great post. I am seriously struggling in my business and continuously getting discouraged over the amazing, fun-loving, energetic, and personable wedding photographers and how much business they get and referrals they get, and just overall success. I feel like I’m losing a battle. I thought it was going well until about 2-3 years ago and things have just declined more and more. I used to book 90% of my consults and now I have had 6 consults for 2018 and have booked ONE – and that one was for my husbands co-worker. I have barely changed my prices and made everything a choice so they don’t feel stuck with anything. I feel comfortable with my pricing, but I feel like it’s got to be my personality or my approach or something missing or that I’m lacking between inquiry and consult. My last consult hasn’t even emailed me a response to my follow up to let me know if she’s still interested or not. I felt like as soon as I introduced myself in person that she shut down whereas her initial emails made it seem she was genuinely interested in my work. She barely asked me any questions, and I didn’t make the consult technical – tried to ask more questions about them as a couple and her personally (her fiance and her schedule are opposite so I just met with her). I’m just so lost as to how to get people to feel comfortable hiring me, or to at least get them to tell me why they decided NOT to hire me so I can fix whatever the problem is. Sorry to ramble – I just figured I’d see if you had any further advice!

    • Hi Cathy!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and write me this message. I am sorry you are struggling, but I am glad you reached out. While I don’t have a magic bullet, I do have a couple of things to note.

      One, I think the photography industry (and the wedding industry especially) has changed a lot in the last few years. I have heard all around that many people are having trouble booking weddings like they used to. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but my guess would be that as the price of cameras have dropped, there are more photographers to choose from and there are a lot of beginners with low prices. And people are often having friends or relatives shoot their weddings. I don’t say any of this to discourage you, but just to tell you that you’re not alone in what you’re noticing with a lower booking rate etc.

      Another thing that is really true, but doesn’t necessary soften the blow at all, is that you really only want the clients that are a good fit for you. So while it stings and honestly sucks when someone doesn’t book you and even worse, doesn’t even tell you they went in another direction, they weren’t the right fit for you anyway. One way to not have bridezilla clients is to book couples that are perfect for you! So I know that doesn’t help the bank account or the sting from rejection, it is undeniably true that you really only want clients that are a good fit for you.

      A couple other ideas; I am wondering if maybe it would be better to try having less options in your packages. You said you made everything a choice so they don’t feel like they’re stuck with anything; sometimes too many choices is a bad thing. If you did that and haven’t had luck with increasing your bookings, it might be worth trying the other way. Either have one main offering and then an a la carte list where they can add things to the main offering if they want to customize it. Or do 2-3 packages, and still have the a la carte they can add to. It’d be worth a try to see if that makes any kind of difference.

      Another thing I think is important, and maybe you’re already doing this, but you want to really showcase you. Because if you are a more mellow, lowkey, quiet photographer, you want to attract clients who are like that too, and who appreciate that. If a couple is pretty quiet and shy, they are going to connect with you better than they would a loud in-your-face photographer. So, you want to use what makes you unique to be a factor that either attracts or repels clients. So (maybe you’re doing this already, but if you’re not, consider it) – make sure you incorporate a lot of you on your site. Things you like and what makes you unique. The fact that you’re a quiet observer, noticing moments others would overlook. You can say something like you will guide your clients into poses that make them look and feel comfortable, but you do it in a way that is quiet and natural. Basically, highlighting how you work and what it’s like to work with you, in an effort to attract the clients that appreciate that type of a personality and who might be like that themselves.

      One other thing that I did one year when I was struggling with a lot of doubt and rejection from couples, is to switch your focus from what you don’t have to what you do. Instead of dwelling on the people you don’t book, turn your focus to the couples you DO have booked. Start with just the one for 2018. When I did this, I started sending little gifts and packages in the mail for things like Valentine’s Day or a Just Because gift. I put my effort into the couples who had hired me and entrusted their wedding day to me, and it really helped to shift my perspective. Plus, your clients will feel extra special with all of the extra attention. They’ll notice.

      I wish you all the best as 2018 begins. I’ll be praying for you as well.

      xoxo, Laura

      • Thank you so much for responding Laura! I already do a lot of what you said, and since my original post, I have realized that most of the clients that I loved and that really loved me were all quiet, introverted people like myself and I should use that and the words in their reviews that point to that being a positive thing. On a side note, I had myself very worried and down about that last meeting but she finally emailed me back and said that they were planning to book with me once they got to talk about the add-ons they wanted. SO – I was worried for nothing!

        • Haha, I had to laugh when you said you were worried for nothing. I know that ALL TOO WELL. It’s great she ended up emailing back and I hope they turn out to be awesome clients for you!

          I’m also glad that you have had the revelation that your favorite clients are quiet, introverted people like you. That IS a strength, and you can use it to your advantage!

          Good luck to you! I think you’re on the verge of some great things in your business!

          Laura

  5. Thank you for posting this. I am a big time introvert. I am a nature and wildlife photographer who does ocasional events and portraits. I always get nervous before portrait shoots but always force myself forward. Being introverted does make me feel inferior which I am trying to work on. I have a family session I am doing for my neighbor and I am afraid. I found your post under the google search “introverted photographer”. I do know basic poses but I freeze when I have to direct people. I just wish I could move them with my mind. I usually bring myself to tears before I am able to calm down and focus on what I need to do. I feel like people photography could be more fun if I was more comfortable bossing people around. I love the way you wrote this.

    • Hi Kelsey! Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts with me! I am glad you found my post. I still get nervous before a shoot, all these years later, so I’m with you there. I think the more you practice your basic poses, and the more you follow the same pose order through your shoots, at least at the beginning of each one, will help you feel more comfortable sooner. It definitely does get easier with practice, but like I said, I still get nervous and have to pump myself up with a pep talk before each shoot. I don’t think they’ll ever change.

      Good luck to you with your upcoming family session! The feeling of happiness after you’re done with that session is AMAZING and will make you feel like you can do anything. 🙂

      Let me know how it goes!

      xo, Laura

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