Nervous about photographing weddings (but you want to do it!) … Just be like Adele

Two things happened recently … and I feel like they go hand in hand.

1. A friend and fellow photographer contacted me to say that she had a wedding to shoot the next day … and she was so, so nervous. She’s in the middle of trying to grow her business, and she doesn’t have a lot of weddings under her belt as the lead photographer. But the thing that touched my heart is that her reason for feeling so, so nervous was that she reeeeeally wanted to knock it out of the park for the couple. She wanted to succeed so that they would have amazing images. It wasn’t just about her. It was about someone else.

2. Just a few days later, Adele took the stage at the Grammy’s to sing a tribute to the late George Michael. And by now, we all know what happened. She stopped the band and restarted because things weren’t quite right. And if you look at her face, you can see it. Written all over her face was the pain she was feeling because she wanted to do her best … but not just for herself. It was about someone else.

That face. It pulls at my heart. I see the face of someone who wanted so, so badly to perform in a way that would truly honor George Michael. And when things didn’t go quite right, she stopped, admitted things were off … and started over.

Here’s what she said:

“I know it’s live TV; I’m sorry I can’t do it again, like last year. I’m sorry for swearing. I’m sorry for starting again. Can we please start it again? I’m sorry — I cant mess this up for him. I’m sorry, I’m sorry for swearing! I’m really sorry. Sorry.”

I couldn’t help but think that both Adele and my photographer friend had so much in common. Both of these ladies just wanted to do their best under high pressure situations.

Now, is shooting a wedding the same thing as performing at the Grammy’s?

I’ll be honest … even after 10 years of shooting weddings, I still get nervous. I feel a little queasy the whole morning before I arrive at the wedding. I usually feel like peeling out of the parking lot just as I’m pulling into a spot. (All the while sighing with relief because I didn’t get stuck in a freak 4-hour-delay traffic jam.) But then I get into the groove of the day and the nerves calm down.

I’m pretty sure performing at the Grammy’s trumps photographing a wedding as far as nerves go, though.

But that’s not really the point. The point is there’s a lot to be learned from how Adele handled things.

We can learn a lot from Adele

If you are like me and my friend and get really nervous about shooting weddings because you care about the couple and because you just couldn’t live with yourself if you messed up their big day, remember Adele. Remember what she did. She gracefully and calmly handled the situation. You, too, can gracefully and calmly handle a wedding mishap, too.

Before we go any further, let’s all agree that there’s NO EXCUSE for negligence. Cards should be formatted. Cameras should be clean. Backup equipment should be present. Hours spent second-shooting and learning lighting situations should be under your belt. We’re professionals … so we should be properly prepared.

Adele was prepared … but stuff happens.

So ok… you’re prepared. But still, during a fast-moving day where people’s emotions are running high, you have blisters forming on your feet, and you’re hungry (because I’m ALWAYS hungry during weddings!) and you feel like you’ve been doing Pilates while simultaneously trying to solve a hard math problem while trying to be creative for hours … STUFF can happen. And that’s just YOU. Then there’s the hundreds of people in the vicinity who can all cause STUFF to happen. Wedding photography requires you to be on your blistered toes.

In talking with other wedding photographers, I think the thing people worry about most is missing key moments. “What if I miss the first kiss?!” “What if I don’t get a great shot during the cake cutting?” “What if I can’t get a candid moment with the bride and her Grandfather and she specifically told me how important that is?!”

I’ve never missed a first kiss at the alter. But that doesn’t mean I won’t sometime. And it doesn’t mean I don’t get super nervous thinking about the possibility of it happening! We’re all human. Things can happen. But from here on out, I’m going to remember Adele’s example. If I miss that moment, or any other moment, I’m going to HANDLE it. Like Adele.

Here’s how to handle a missed moment at a wedding — like Adele!

  1. Don’t freak out. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Your stomach may be flip flopping inside as the couple is walking back up the aisle towards you and you know you didn’t get a good shot of the first kiss … but stay calm.
  2. Keep shooting. You’re the only one who knows you didn’t get that shot! The wedding isn’t going to stop for you. Keep capturing moments.
  3. At an appropriate moment, pull the couple aside and say something like, “I’m SO happy for you guys! Everything is going beautifully!!!! I don’t feel like I got the best shot of your first kiss, though and I want to make sure you have amazing photos of that special moment. Can you go back up to the alter so I can grab a few more shots.” You’ve just admitted that you messed up a little. But all the couple sees is this …All they see is someone trying to do their absolute best … for THEM! So of course they’ll say “yes”. And I highly doubt they’ll be upset. Because only you know that this do-over is necessary! The couple just thinks you’re trying to give them some more great shots.
  4. Grab a few more shots at the same place where their first kiss took place.
  5. Carry on.
  6. Mix those photos in with the ones you took during the actual ceremony in their final collection of images.
  7. Voila. You’re Adele.

(Ok, not really. It would be awesome, though, right?!)

Having a perfect shot of the actual first kiss would be great. But when all is said and done, and they’re flipping through the gallery, they’re hardly going to remember that there was a slight do-over. Because you were graceful. And you showed them that you really cared and wanted them to have the BEST.

What’s the point of this strange comparison between Adele and wedding photography?

Aside from the fact that I often make strange comparisons, like these:

Pain, Lepers, and the Business of Photography

My Bra Almost Killed Me But it Led Me to a Very Important Realization About My Photography Business

The actual point is this: It HAS to be scary walking out on a stage and performing live like that! It HAST TO BE. But I’m so glad Adele is willing to do it. I’m so glad she’s willing to give us her heart even though the stakes are high.

And you? If the only thing stopping you from pursuing wedding photography — or any other kind of photography, for that matter — is your fears, please do the world a favor and push through them. Accept that you might make some mistakes along the way. But know that if you handle them with grace, all will be well.

“#Adele taught us a all a great lesson just now. If it’s not right? START OVER AND NAIL IT! And she did. Love you, girl,” Bette Midler, Twitter.


Kate Callahan is an on-location photographer who LOVES to capture authentic memories for families. She’s available for weddings, senior photos, child photo sessions, and family photography. Kate works with clients throughout the Hudson Valley, NYC,  Delaware (and the tri-state area), and beyond. She also writes motivational books for photographers. Find them at Dear Female Photographer.

The birth of

It all started in 2014. That’s the year I moved to a new area and brought my established and mostly successful photography business with me. I settled into an area a little north of NYC to pursue personal goals. It was a very, very good decision for my life. But maybe not as much for my business. At least, not at first.

It was hard to start over in a very, very saturated market of talented photographers.

It was hard starting over in a new congregation, with new friends, and with a completely new dwelling space.

It was hard.

But it was good for me.

I knew that to grow my business here, I’d have to really get moving. But I just felt overwhelmed.

And so, I started looking for motivation. I started reading, learning, and trying to grow as a businesswoman. And in between each book and podcast that I’d devour, I needed to somehow process the information I’d just consumed. I turned to my photography blog. And I began to write what were essentially “Dear Kate,” posts. These were posts where I’d tell myself what needed to be done in order to keep going … and to keep growing. But rather than actually writing “Dear Kate,” I’d write “Dear Female Photographer.” After all, I figured that others might need the motivation, too!

A little time went by, and I felt like I still had so much knowledge and info stored up in my brain that needed to come out! And so I wrote the workbook “Dear Female Photographer, You Can Succeed!

I’m so proud of that workbook! I wrote it for myself. And I actually do use it. And other photographers are telling me that it’s helping them, too. And that makes me THRILLED!

I knew I wanted to keep going with the inspirational/motivational blog posts for my fellow photographers (and myself), but I felt like these posts and books needed their own space. I still like posting them on this blog, but I wanted them to have a home. And so, I created

It’s there for me. It’s there for you. It’s there for any photographer who needs to be reminded that they have a very special gift to offer … and that they simply have to get out of their own way in order to succeed.

Come on over and visit. There are lots of articles designed to help us girls keep going and growing our photography businesses. Why female photographers? Honestly, there was no forethought on this one. I was writing these blog posts to myself … a female … and writing with a very feminine voice (I can’t help myself!). So that’s why it became Dear Female Photographer. They say to write well for your audience, you need to know them well. And who could I know better than myself?? … a female photographer.

So there it is! The story of how my little pet project began. It’s been fun … it’s been so helpful for me … and my hope is it will be incredibly helpful for others, too.



Kate Callahan is an on-location photographer who LOVES to capture authentic memories for families. She’s available for weddings, senior photos, child photo sessions, and family photography. Kate works with clients throughout the Hudson Valley, NYC,  Delaware (and the tri-state area), and beyond. She also writes motivational books for photographers. Find them at Dear Female Photographer.

My bra almost killed me … but it led me to a very important realization about my photography business

Not long ago, I put myself on a STRICT budget. Like … for-real-you’re-doing-it-this-time-no-matter-what STRICT. I have very specific goals that I’ve wanted to achieve for a while … and the strict budget is a must.

Thing is … I’m just terrible at strict budgets.

But I began this new wave of penny pinching with a bottle-returning gusto! (Bear with me here, I promise I’m going to tie this straight back around to our photography businesses.) For the first time in Kate-on-a-budget history, I was actually on a roll. And once the ball got rolling and I made it through the initial detox period, I became increasingly ambitious!

Fast forward to the other week when I realized that I really did NEED a new bra. I mean, I need like five new bras. But remember … I’m ambitiously penny-pinching, so I settled on ONE new bra.

Now the brand I happen to love (Wachoal) typically runs me $65 to $85 a bra … and I’m ok with that. They are the best bras I’ve ever worn. My larger-chested readers out there will totally send me a virtual AMEN when I say that it’s just plain old NECESSARY to get a supportive, quality bra.

Now, here comes the part of the story where I’m actually really proud of myself. READY?!

It dawned on me that I had recently seen NWT bras on Poshmark. So I checked and found the style of Wachoal bra I love available for $20. The only catch was that it was one band size smaller than I typically wear. The brand new thrifty me was like, “NO PROBLEM! It’ll stretch!”

So I bought it. I did a little happy dance when I pulled it out and it was in perfect shape. I was so proud of myself for saving that $40 or so.

It was tight. Waaaaaaay too tight.

“But it will stretch,” I repeated to myself over and over.

Two weeks of pain went by and you know what … it didn’t stretch. Not enough, anyway.

I started feeling annoyed at myself that I had actually WASTED $20 because now I’d have to go buy a new bra anyway!

Here comes the part of the story where it’s a good thing I talked with someone else …

My best friend came to visit the other day. I laughed and told her about my silly bra experience and how I thought the deep red welts along my back were probably permanent at this point.

“Get one of those extenders,” she said nonchalantly.

I shook my head in disbelief. Duuuuuuuh! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?! A bra back extender!!!!

So, for $4, I now have an extender thingie, and my bra is perfectly comfortable.

Here comes the part of this post where I actually talk about the business of photography …

Sometimes our brains get so focused on one thing, that it’s almost like we have blinders blocking out stuff that would actually benefit us. I was 100% focused on sticking with my new budgeting plan. I was just DETERMINED to FOR ONCE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE (seriously, I’m so bad at budgeting), follow through on my plan. My eyes were on the prize. I was willing to have welts on my back, for Pete’s sake! And then, frustrated, I was ready to toss the bra and just buy a new one because it seemed the wisest thing to do in the situation.

All it took was one brief conversation with another person and I was shown that there was a better solution.

So the question is: when it comes to your business, are you isolating yourself? Or are you allowing yourself the absolute NECESSITY of taking in outside input? There just might be some better solutions out there that you don’t yet know about!

Where might you find this outside input? Books, podcasts, blog posts, and online workshops are a great place to start. But don’t stop there. The actual physical act of sitting down in front of someone — whether it’s a mentor or a group of peers, someone in the photo industry or someone in a completely different line of work — and just chatting through your current and future plans can generate ideas that will TRANSFORM your business and your life.

Do you already have a mentor? If not, this is the year. Make it a goal to find the person who can help you absolutely TRANSFORM your business. This is just my opinion of course, but I firmly believe the investment in business mentorship is more important than your investment in equipment. Of course, photographers need great equipment! But photography business owners won’t have any need for their equipment if no one is hiring them! Or, if they aren’t making enough money to actually grow their businesses.

So … keep going. Keep learning! And don’t buy a bra that’s too small. It really hurts.



Kate Callahan is an on-location photographer who LOVES to capture authentic memories for families. She’s available for weddings, senior photos, child photo sessions, and family photography. Kate works with clients throughout the Hudson Valley, NYC,  Delaware (and the tri-state area), and beyond. She also writes motivational books for photographers. Find them at Dear Female Photographer.

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