How to Stay Healthy in the Midst of Wedding Photography Insanity

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How to Stay Healthy in the Midst of Wedding Photography Insanity

I’m not sure if you’ve ever woken up the morning after a wedding and felt like you were hit by a truck, but I know I have. Photographing weddings is extremely taxing on your body. That’s why I compiled list of a few things I do to help take care of my body (especially during the busy season here where I’m photographing two or three events and weddings in one weekend).

It’s been over a decade since I photographed my first wedding, and in November of 2008, when I shot my first one, I realized something important. If you’re photographing a wedding, I highly encourage you to leave your high heels at home! Here are a few more smart tips for any busy event shooter to stay healthy.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Prepping for a wedding starts the night before. If you have a wedding, make sure to get a good night’s rest. This couple is entrusting you to document their day to the best of your ability, so it’s your responsibility and your duty to make sure you’re rested and ready to go. Always take this into consideration during the booking process and be realistic about the time it takes to travel between different weddings and their destinations, etc., as travel-related logistics such as flights and driving definitely play a part into how you’re feeling when you show up for the day. I also encourage you not to make any plans like breakfasts or lunches with friends the day of a wedding so you can show up feeling focused and ready to go.

Drink Lots of Water

This is number one: if you do nothing else, bring a reusable water bottle to keep hydrated during the day. I use this bottle, and this particular top is clutch. On a wedding day or for a fast-paced event, the screw top with flip straw gives you instant access to cold water, after which you can throw it in or clip onto your bag without the worry of spilling. Staying hydrated will prevent headaches and keep your body feeling good both while you’re shooting and the next day without feeling like you’re waking up with a hangover.

Eat a Big Lunch

We always eat a big meal before the wedding begins. We meet two hours before we start shooting, which is great because we’re in proximity to the prep spot and settling into the schedule early. Our goal: Fill. Our. Bellies. There’s not a whole lot of “salad eating” during this time — more eating what we can without feeling groggy. I definitely suggest arriving two hours early and use the time to settle in while you eat. If you’re working with a second shooter, have them come along and treat them to the meal. It’ll give you time to connect, go over the schedule, and ensure that no one is arriving frazzled or hungry.

Pack Snacks

Part Two of food tips is having snacks in your bags. Even during this weekend’s wedding, we had ten hours of shooting, so I needed to stay energized. There was a short trolley ride to and from the first look location, so after I grabbed a few photos of what was happening on the trolley, I took out my bag of snacks to reload. Snacks I suggest for your bag are almonds, peanuts, peanut butter packs, and rice cakes. They’re high in fat and help keep you going when energy is low. On wedding days, you really have to have enough energy for both you and your clients. Sometimes they get tired, hot, cold — it’s your job to keep them excited and amped for taking photos.

Consider Shoe Inserts

So for the longest time, I couldn’t find a shoe that worked for my feet. When I would get home from a wedding, I would crawl into the bathtub and soak my feet until I could feel my heel again. Standing and moving around, carrying gear for 7-10 hours without longer than a 15-minute break can get pretty tiring. I’ve tried all the shoes: flats, the tennis shoe-like shoes, the orthopedic boots — nothing really fit the bill. Either they were cute and tight or cute and uncomfortable. Or maybe they were comfortable but horribly unattractive. One day, I came across the brand Vionic. Their shoes are hit or miss in terms of aesthetic, but here’s the trick: I buy a shoe I love, and then I slip in the insoles. Seriously, it’s genius and has changed the game for me. Currently, I’m rocking these Rothy’s pointy toe black flats. But any shoe will do as long as it will fit the insert.

Distribute the Camera Weight

Some people prefer to carry their cameras on their shoulders (most men, especially). If that’s you, I would absolutely suggest the HoldFast Money Maker strap (read all about the CEO and the product here). Since I tend to have more muscle and carry things better on my hips, I’ve been loving the Spider Belt. It’s not exactly the most attractive tool, but when it comes to longevity in the wedding industry, your health is everything. Ever since I started wearing the belt, I feel free enough to run and never feel obstructed or weighed down by my gear.

Roll Your Gear

I always have to giggle a little at the drivers’ faces when they lift my camera bag of gear. They’re always so surprised at how heavy it is. This is why I suggest investing in a nice rolling bag to carry around your gear. I bought my bag almost ten years ago, and aside from placing a cover over the handle (which was free from Think Tank), it’s held up. We beat up this bag and don’t take any extra care in protecting it. I do have a smaller bag that I carry on my person, but the majority of the gear goes into the big bag until I need it. Having a rolling bag really helps conserve energy. One thing to note is that this is an international-sized bag, which means I can travel with it overseas. Be sure to check this feature according to your needs, as most brands have a standard carry-on and a slightly smaller “International” version that fits international carry-on requirements.

Stand Up to Edit

My husband was the first to make the switch from sitting to standing. I’ll be honest with you: it took a while to build up the tolerance to work an entire day standing. Even now, I make sure to take little breaks throughout the day so as not to stand for super long increments of time. But, wow. Standing is the way to go when it comes to editing. Your neck will hurt less, you’ll feel more energized, and your body will love you for taking care of it. There are so many negative statistics around desk jobs and sitting to work. Take a few minutes to do a little reading on the topic. When you come back, check out the standing desks that we use in our office. The great thing about these is that if you ever move, you can take it with you.

Or If You’d Rather Sit…

Maybe you’ve tried standing or have health issues which require you to sit. It’s still worth the investment to purchase a good office chair! This is the chair that we used for years. It’s honestly night-and-day from what we were using before. I even attached a little headrest to mine. Yes, I know the price tag is high, but just like everything in this post, I’m sharing because you have to prioritize your health.

For so many photographers, there’s a cap on how long they’ll be in the wedding industry. Why? Most can’t imagine doing this physically as they get older. Shooting events is extremely taxing on the body and sometimes leaves you feeling like you don’t want to get out of bed for a week. But that doesn’t always have to be the case.

I hope this blog post has left you with some easy and actionable tips as well as products that you can implement into your business to keep you going for the long haul. Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links. If you found this information helpful, please consider using the links in order to continue to support my content creation and information-sharing.

Speaking of content, you can download more information from this link on my site, where I share other tools and resources I use to run my business.

Best of luck to you, and feel free to reach out with questions directly through email.

Catherine Guidry is a New Orleans-based wedding photographer, podcaster, and educator. She has photographed close to 400 weddings and successfully built a debt-free, six-figure business over the course of the last decade. She has been featured in a variety of publications including Southern Brides, Style Me Pretty, and The Knot and is now helping other photographers and creative entrepreneurs embrace imperfection and pursue their passions through her podcast, "Mistakes Make Magic." Her greatest achievements lie in creating memorable experiences for her clients and teaching other creative entrepreneurs and photographers how to successfully run their businesses.