A Photographer's Life:

The Road to Recovery

  Photography For Me, Is A Way Of Life

This my personal insight into a photographer’s life after a major injury and my road to physical and mental recovery.

Firstly, choosing to become a professional wedding photographer is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only do I get to use my creativity and passion as a profession, but I work for myself which means you can choose to carve your own path.

Secondly, 2019 was a very important year for me and it felt very much like a ‘levelling up’ year. Things were about to change in a big way! 

I had no idea it was going to turn out the way it eventually did… 

A bride walking through a field of corn

Credit: Martin Forrest

a bearded man staring intensely

Credit: Martin Forrest

The Wrong Place And The Wrong Time

It all began in July 2019, weeks before some of the biggest weddings of the season. I was involved in a serious motorcycle accident and my life was turned upside down.

I woke up on the pavement at the side of a busy high street, unable to see and disoriented when I heard the gasps of a woman saying ‘he’s still alive!’. It was at that point that I realised everything was not OK.

Then it turned out a delivery driver, in a hurry to meet his schedule, had turned his van into the path of my motorcycle causing me to crash at high speed.

man with an injury in a cast after an accident

Credit: Martin Forrest

The Path to Recovery…

I suffered neck and head injuries, alongside several breaks to my right hand and wrist. A photographer’s life…at the peak of wedding season – this was less than ideal.

Finally, once the dust settled and I had spent extensive treatment at the hospital, it was time to take stock and decide exactly how I was going to carry on.

Making the first call was the toughest. It was to my business partner to explain the situation and to try and formulate a plan. In a nervous and shaky voice, I said “I’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident and I’ve broken my hand and wrist”, there was a long pause and they responded “which hand?!”. This is still something that makes us laugh to this day.

The process of recovering from an injury as severe as I had was difficult enough. However being trusted to document a bride and groom’s most important day, and being unable to, adds a whole new level of stress. This situation needed to be handled with care and felt as fragile as treading on thin ice.

 

a man with his hands on his hips while his shadow shows him flexing and much larger
a man falling with his eyes closed

…Has Bumps in the Road

a wedding photographer standing infront of the liver buildings

Credit: Martin Forrest

Logistically the season was a success, but this left me with the challenge of having a long process of recovery and dealing with the unknown.

I had taken extensive damage to my right hand which left me with limited movement, strength and coupled with that a significant amount of pain.

A photographer’s life, in the wedding market, has always been the goal for me, starting long before I went professional. This motivation to push my skills has never left me.

The thought of not being able to hold a camera again was something I wasn’t prepared to accept, and this was the drive that empowered me.

 

a honda vtr1000 next to a wall, the motorcycle i had the accident on

Credit: Martin Forrest

I underwent a series of intense physiotherapy sessions that had me constantly in pain. The exercises were relentless and had to be performed frequently, some every 15 minutes throughout the day. 

The hospital visits seemed never-ending, and I was constantly overshadowed with the prospect of major surgery if the treatment didn’t go well. 

My sleep was disturbed and the strain on my mental health was significant. The one prevailing thought that kept me focused through the pain and anguish, was being able to pick up my camera and be creative again. Without this passion, I’m not sure I would have had the strength to get through. 

Getting Back Up

One of the best parts of being a wedding photographer is selling your skills and personality as a product. There is nothing quite like the feeling of elation when a client trusts you that much that they want to include you in their wedding day.

Planning a wedding is like spinning a series of very expensive crystal plates if one falls it can be very upsetting to a couple and I had just wobbled one of those plates. This is where forward planning is crucial and thankfully, as we have worked in the wedding industry for a very long time, we had a list of photographers we could use if anything like this was to occur.

Eventually, after many phone calls, we managed to navigate through the season despite my absence. That said it was not without a significant strain on our relationship, both business and personal.

Thankfully, today we still work together, and by overcoming these challenges we have become closer than ever. She is even best man at MY wedding next year.

A photographer’s life, a freelance one anyway, means that situations like mine not only adds mental pressures but financial ones too. It’s important to be aware of the impact lack of work means self-employed photographers.

Things To Consider Being A Professional Wedding Photographer:

No Sick Pay

Working for yourself has its advantages, but always make sure you have a backup plan (savings, support).

Insurance

We can’t predict the future so it’s always a good idea to protect yourself, your work, your equipment in case the unexpected happens.

Get A Buddy

A problem shared is a problem halved. One of the main reasons I enjoy being a wedding photographer is the chance to work with other like-minded individuals. This not only makes it more enjoyable, but it also provides you with support if the worst does happen #DreamTeam.

a gem necklace on a window

Credit: Martin Forrest

a wedding cake with a lens flare behind it

Credit: Martin Forrest

Tips for a successful recovery:

Take your time

You can often feel impatient during recovery and want things to get back to normal. However be a patient ‘patient’ and don’t do more than you are instructed to.

Keep Motivated

They often say that what you think you can do is only 40% of what you are capable of doing. Keep strong and remember things will get better even if they are not the same as before. Take one day at a time.

Listen to your body

Pain is a great indicator, but doesn’t always mean you are doing more damage, remember the right road is sometimes the hardest to travel. Listen to your doctors and specialists and follow their guidance.

Picking up the camera again

Gradually as time went on I started to see improvements. My strength improved daily and receiving glowing reports from the specialists slowly restored my confidence. I was, however, still concerned about my endurance and ability to perform for a whole wedding day.

5 months after the accident, I decided to get the camera out and joined my business partner on a wedding pre-shoot. It was terrifying and I felt like the new kid at school, but afterwards, I saw the results, and my confidence was restored. It was exhilarating.

I was BACK!

i couple inbracing eachother one looking at the camera one looking away

Credit: Martin Forrest

a couple whispering to eachother

Credit: Martin Forrest

Stronger Than Before

In a photographer’s life, I feel like I have now faced the biggest challenges on offer and I came out on top. I want to tell you that challenges like this can build us up and give us confidence and strength we didn’t know we had. 

“Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK then it’s not the end”

a wedding photographer standing in front of a waterfall with his hands in his pockets

Credit: Martin Forrest

a wedding photographer trying to catch a balloon
a wedding photographer standing infront of the liver buildings

Have you had a similar experience to Martin? Did life send you on a different path and you needed to fight your way back to photography? If so, we’d love to hear and share your stories – Get in touch.

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