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Why I Became A Professional Wedding Photographer

Bride spraying perfume in sunlight at Neverland Farms wedding from Atlanta Wedding Photographers Matthew Druin + Co.

A few weeks ago a friend asked me how and why I became a professional wedding photographer, and to be honest I didn’t have a real answer. I mean, I kind of knew why, but I didn’t REALLY know a definite answer. I began to think about the whys, hows, whats, that I’ve done over the last year that got me to where I am at today. I’m not one of those photographers that was born with a camera in my hands, with eyes that only see value scales, and a mind that dreams of illusionary fragments of an artistic reality. Nope, not at all. I’m just a normal dude that really loves photography, has a dream, and a lot of determination.

THE BEGINNING

It all started September 2010 when I traded an old tool box for my first DSLR, a Nikon D3000. I have always loved photography, but for whatever reason, never owned a camera. At the time, I had just moved to Atlanta, so I really didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t have school during the summer. I thought photography would be an awesome way to fill time, take fun photos of my family, and have a great hobby. I would sit around shooting things in my house, squirrels from my balcony, and would even get my dogs out running at the park so I could shoot them. By September I got my first paid portrait job shooting a friend for $20 and pack of gum. Ballin’! :) A few others saw the photos, liked them, and contacted me. Things keep progressing and I would shoot odd jobs here and there. A business started to develop and by February 2011 I decided to get serious, quit my job, and started doing photography full time. (FYI, I know now it probably wasn’t the smartest move to just quit everything at once and start a business, but it worked out.)

I had just switched my majors in school from finance to art ( I know, right), but, I really just couldn’t see myself running the rat race in my suit to make it to my cubical in time for the cheese. Growing up, I loved all things art and have always been creative, so that’s what I really wanted to do, work in a creative environment. Everyone kept telling me, you need a degree in something that will bring security. Well, guess what? All the secure jobs that everyone had were gone with the economy. That’s when I thought to myself, nothing is secure and life is too short to be bored and unhappy; I’m doing what I really want to do.

I guess that is what really got the gears rolling to being an Atlanta wedding photographer now. I didn’t know what or how I was going to do it, but I wanted to be a photographer.

I started in my quest to figure out how to make photography work for me as a career. I looked, read, and talked to whoever would give me the time of day, and I sadly began to realize most photographers seemed to hate other photographers, especially inquisitive newbies. Well maybe hate is a strong word here, but most photographers didn’t want to talk about business or anything else because apparently, they held the magic key to success and selfishly didn’t want to share. Whichever, to each, is own. I finally found a few great photographers that helped me out. Bride and groom on beach at sunset at Orlando wedding from Atlanta wedding photographers Matthew Druin + Co

MY WEDDING INSPIRATION

Moving forward, wedding photography kind of found me. I never sought after becoming a wedding photographer. A friend even asked me early on if I could see myself shooting weddings, and I said no. I really just didn’t think it was a fit for me. I was sooo wrong. One day I was looking at the photos from mine and Jessica’s wedding and (now as an Atlanta wedding photographer looking at photographs) I was terribly disappointed in everything about them. On top of that, I was even more disappointed in the experience with the photographer.

Like many couples, we were on a budget and honestly didn’t even plan to have a photographer. We just wanted a simple and small wedding with twelve of our closest family and friends. We decided to get a photographer anyways and searched for one that fit our budget. $600 is what we had left that late into the planning (hint: start planning early and invest in a freaking awesome photographer!), and we found a local Atlanta wedding photographer. At that point, we didn’t realize how vital and important a great photographer really is, especially on such an important day. Her website photos looked great, so we were excited, but unfortunately, it ended up being a bad experience.

She wouldn’t meet with us without us paying an extra $200 (isn’t that crazy?!), so we took a chance and booked her. She came to the wedding and hardly said a word, she barely even introduced herself. Most of the time I was directing the photos, posing ourselves, and telling her what to do. A few weeks later we got our photos mailed to us on a cd with our names written on it in Sharpie and no case! Just a CD in and envelope. Jessica and I looked at each other with that “Really? WTF?” expression. The photos that we ended up with looked nothing like the ones presented on her website, making me think, the ones on her site were probably stolen from other photographers to misrepresent herself. LAME. Turns out, I was right! The ones we got looked like snapshots anyone with a point and shoot could take. Many were out of focus, poor compositions, horrible edits, etc. We did manage to get a few decent ones, but sadly, you won’t see any around our home.

Looking back on our wedding photos and the experience we had with our wedding photographer is what I think really made me want to pursue weddings. I wanted to be able to educate couples about wedding photography, be there every step of the way, and really provide them with more than just great photos. Weddings for me is all about the story, the emotions, and the unique personalities of my couples. I want to create an amazing experience that encompasses all that in one. After all, I have first-hand experience on why you shouldn’t risk your wedding day to just anyone with a camera. If the photographs are good or bad, that’s it, there’s no redos and second chances. At the end of it all,  photographs are all you have from your wedding day and all the special moments from it. They shouldn’t be good, they should be awesome! Groom and groomsmen smoking cigars at Neverland Farms wedding from Georgia wedding photographers

I set out to learn about the wedding industry and test the waters before I made the decision to actually become an Atlanta wedding photographer. I couldn’t find anyone that would let me tag along to see what it was like and ended up booking my own wedding from a trusting couple that believed in me. After that first wedding, I was hooked! I loved everything about it. Interacting with the clients, capturing the emotions flying around, the excitement, anticipation, the fast paced environment, all the little details and time invested in planning, everything! It’s an amazing feeling being one of the only people able to be with the bride and groom every step of the way on such an important and special day.

Has it been easy? Absolutelllly not. Starting out, I was always so nervous the night before a wedding that I couldn’t sleep. I would lay there thinking, what if I make mistakes, or this happens, or that! I would plan everything out and try to be as prepared as I could. As my experience grew, so did my knowledge, and confidance. I realized, things hardly ever go as planned, and experience is the only real tool you have to deal with it. But, that’s part of what makes it all that much more awesome. I’m always learning something new, improving from my mistakes, and improvising with what I get. It allows me to be creative in my photography and business and I’m in complete control of my own success.

Although things have changed a lot since my first D3000 last summer, my goals and determination have only grown. Every day I have a purpose I’m excited to wake up for. I keep striving to grow as an Atlanta wedding photographer, share my experiences with people willing to listen, and continue to help make a change in the far too often, critical and cold-shouldered industry. Will I completely change the world? Probably not, but if I can just help a few, I’m making a difference. I am blessed to have such a wonderful circle of family and friends that are so supportive of my dreams and clients that really believe in me. Thank you!

MY ADVICE TO OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS

I used to be scared to really get out there, be myself, and share my work with the world. I finally realized I was only holding myself back from succeeding. Nowadays, I just do my own thing. I stopped comparing myself to others, reading the trash, and started focusing on me. There will always be people that like me and my work and others that are critical of everything I do. I’m just going to keep on doing what I do and not worry about what everyone else thinks, or is doing. If people like me and my work, awesome, let’s talk, hang out, and have fun. If not, that’s cool too.

If you want to ask questions about anything, I am more than willing to help as much as I can.

Atlanta Wedding Photographers Matthew Druin & Co Atlanta Wedding Photographers Matthew Druin & Co Atlanta Wedding Photographer Matthew Druin

My name is Matt Druin and I’m an Atlanta wedding photographer that specializes in unique, offbeat weddings for all awesome people! Not only do I shoot amazing Atlanta weddings, but I also travel frequently for destination weddings, and weddings all over, with no travel fees in the US for amazing wedding photography. I also shoot Atlanta engagement sessions for newly engaged couples. I’ve even been known to travel, and far, for engagement sessions too!

Contact Atlanta Wedding Photographer Matthew Druin

Email [email protected]

Phone 678-551-0115

Address 225 Parkway 575 #66 Woodstock, Georgia 30188

Portfolios www.matthewdruin.com

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  • HannahApril 11, 2011 - 7:16 am

    I can totally relate to that. I’m just starting out and it seems so hard to get any help. I spend so much time just trying to figure stuff out. :(ReplyCancel

    • Matthew DruinApril 11, 2011 - 10:34 am

      Just replied to your email. I hope that helps some. :DReplyCancel

  • Kelly HeartgraveApril 16, 2011 - 11:47 am

    I love your work and really look forward to seeing your photos from the W.I.T. event this year!ReplyCancel

    • Matthew DruinApril 16, 2011 - 2:21 pm

      Thanks! I’m really looking forward to W.I.T. and I’m happy to be apart of such an awesome event.ReplyCancel

  • Mary YeeApril 27, 2011 - 8:12 am

    I love this post. I am a “newbie”, like a real newbie. I loved taking pictures and my hubby bought me my first DSLR for my birthday last year. I have a friend who is in the wedding/formal event business and she keeps promising she will let me second shoot. I’m still waiting. Sigh. I came across your site while doing research on formal photography. A friend of ours asked me to shoot her daughters pre prom event. I’m so excited and nervous. I just want to do a good job as she told me that she doesn’t just want pictures but good pictures.ReplyCancel

    • Matthew DruinApril 28, 2011 - 12:50 am

      I sent you an email as well. Good luck on your session!ReplyCancel

  • Diane MangarelliOctober 28, 2011 - 3:53 pm

    I attended the Kladifko/Decker wedding on 10/22 and was so impressed with your spirit I had to look up your website … your work is beautiful!!!

    I can really relate to this post. My daughter was married in April and her photographer came highly recommended by a friend. Sadly, I was very disappointed with what we received (we must of had your photographer’s twin sister. I really wish we would have found you). Your suggestions are on target and your down-to-earth approach will take you very far.ReplyCancel

  • Matthew DruinOctober 29, 2011 - 11:24 am

    Wow! Thanks Diane! I really appreciate the complement. It’s incredible to be noticed by guest. :)

    Sorry to hear about your daughter’s wedding though. It seems to happen a lot more often then it should.ReplyCancel

  • Wiaan CoffeeMarch 6, 2013 - 3:00 pm

    Hai!!! wowie. I Just love your work! inspirational. How did you do the one with the perfume bottle. What equipment and lightingReplyCancel

  • Matthew DruinMarch 6, 2013 - 3:22 pm

    Thanks a lot Wiaan! For the perfume shot there was natural light streaming in from a skylight so I just asked the bride to move over a couple feet before she put on her perfume. I measured for the natural light and already had a softbox with gelled flash setup from a different shot, so I used that for light fill. It was shot with either Nikon or Canon; I can’t remember for sure. ;)ReplyCancel