It was a great grounding in business! There is lots of customer facing, and people interaction when you are a wedding photographer.
As well, I became experienced in sales and marketing, productions and operations, quality control, cash flow, capital investing, profitability and so on. For instance, with operations, it actually took about 40 hours of work to complete a single wedding. That is, when you counted all the time for sales, prep, shooting, and then a huge amount of time for negative and paper handling to get the wedding albums made. Weddings were almost always in the summer, and only on the weekend. Since I only could shoot one wedding per day, the effective limit of the number of weddings that I could shoot in a year was around 26. It could never become a big business, and worked best as a part time business. Normally, I worked as a subcontract for other studios.
Since that time, I've considered starting other businesses, and remember the lessons. I'm glad that the lessons were only in terms of thousands of dollars. Not in terms of dozens, or hundreds of thousands of dollars. These lessons, I consider to be cheap lessons. Subsequently, I've actually made a number of good decisions to not invest in certain businesses. They just would not have been viable.
At the time, I shot with film, on medium format equipment. This produced negatives 6 * 6 centimeters in size, four times the size of 35mm negatives. The grain in the enlargements was very fine, and the effect was really beautiful. It was also more expensive. Medium format actually cost me over one dollar per frame, wholesale! So, if I shot a wedding, and took 200 frames, my direct expense was over $200! As you can imagine, this really cut into margins.
In the age of digital cameras, when the direct expense of another frame is essentially nil, this is difficult to imagine. Another serious benefit of the newer digital cameras is the instant feedback. As soon as you shoot, you see the result. Did anyone blink? With film, you only really knew for sure after the film was developed a few days later. So the skill level and experience required for a film wedding photographer I consider to be much higher.
One business convention in those days was for photographer to keep the negatives, and ideally, get some more sales of prints in the future. I said that I would never throw out any negatives. And after all this time, I still have them. :)
I'd like to get these negatives to their respective couples. After all this time, the old addresses and phone numbers are no longer current. More than one couple has divorced.
If you recognize your name here, please contact me via Linked In, Facebook, or in a comment below. Leave your contact info so we can talk on the phone. Be prepared for some quiz questions so I'll know you're not a crank.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you, and I hope you'll find me
Your friendly photographer,
Irene and Ken Sleva
Karen and Don Jensen
Graham and Kasco Spafford
Diane and Gordon McCaveney
Sharon and Joe Halcro
Dawn and Leland Morris
Gail and Ken Jones
Darla Ernest Georgeson
Kathy and Ken Ferland
Kim and Joey Vodopivic
Larry and Karen ChiHonek
Francis and Fraser Kulba
Brenda and Tim Robinson
Lisa and Brent Ballantyne
Mary and Klauf Gietz
Sharon and Shailesh Godse
Jack and Miriella Wilbers