My apologies for this sort of tabloid headline but I couldn't be more honest.
How can a wedding photographer actually burn out? I reckon that in the same way as anyone else. I've been suspicious from the very beginning that being a wedding photographer means constant fight with own ego and expectations. However, I reckon that even though my colleagues do not reveal this thirteenth chamber it does not necessarily mean that it never happened.
I know wedding photographers who shoot over 60 weddings per year. I have seen Facebook posts about mental breakdowns, collapsing and other impulses to slow down generated by our own body. I didn't get it and therefore I've confirmed only thirty weddings for this year which is ten weddings less than last year. This was a sort of pragmatic prevention. I have never had an issue with submitting photographs within 14 days. Weddings were always my priority. Then, however, the best wedding of my life took place. Yes, of course, it was my wedding when we were with Barunka on the place where we met many years ago, surrounded by those we loved and simply said: “Yes, I do”. It was the most intense experience in my life.
That was the breaking point. I reckon that after my wedding I expected too much from other weddings. They were not in any aspect worse than ours. But the things were not going according to my expectations. I completely squeezed myself owing to my exaggerated expectations. I didn't respect the fact that some people simply do not want to dance through the whole wedding barefoot as we did. No worries - the newly weds couldn't recognize it on their photos at all. I always did my best at every particular moment, I've never skimped on anything but I stopped being scared. All of the sudden, everything looked too simple...and I had an idea to give up photographing. This happened only once, though - but I was a bit scared and felt a sort of relief at the same time. "That's it, you'll simply be doing something else in two years," I thought. I lost my long-term attachment to photographing. My whisperer finished talking.
I confessed my inner ambivalence to Petr and could meet Radka thanks to him. No one has ever had such an impact on my life as these two guys - on human as well as photographing level. Both of them reacted to my "pseudo-discomfort" that these were not real issues which would be existential... and that I should go out and photograph something according to myself. So I chilled and went out.
This inspired me to create a series of photographs taken at the backstage of the Smetana's Litomyšl Opera Festival at which I again had to set off for a journey out of my comfort zone. I extraordinarily enjoyed this photographing session as well as realized a crucial thing. I don't want to have the label "wedding" photographer because that's just an excerpt from the stories I tell with my photos. All of the sudden, I got back to saddle. Before the wedding itself I felt again a bit uncomfortable, though.
I don't like competing. Once during my studies, I enrolled with my favourite photo in a competition organized by a school magazine. I ended up on the second place following a girl who had won the competition with her collage of photos which was against rules of the competition. I realized that this sort of competing "I'm better than you" had never been my cup of tea and would never be so.
A couple of my friends advised me to send my photos to Czech Press Photo. Shall I go out on a limb? Ok, I'll try it. Once Petr and Radek had helped me to choose nine photos from the series about Smetanka, I fully realized that any kind of burning out was just temporary - it simply didn't look so dramatic at all. Even though dogs bark, caravan carries on.
Eventually, I enrolled also my favourite photo and was waiting if there would be someone else who would recognize a story I aspire to tell with my pictures. The panel did so. After all, out of two nominations (in the category of a single photo and a series) the following one was awarded. It turned out that if I hadn't burned out, I would have not won the category "Art" with my photo from the Opera Ball. One situation was simply dependent on the other one. Thanks to both of them I am grateful, humble and again hungry to take good pictures.
P.S.: I am a photographer who has been endowed so far. That's why I have a lot to give back. Get ready, I'm working on interesting stuff!