Peak season is in full swing! With that, many photographers are talking about the dreaded Wedding Photographer Hangover in Facebook groups.
I don’t experience Wedding Photographer Hangovers. Well, not any more! I know what a pain it is to have an entire day (or two!) written off when you feel awful. Especially when you haven’t even been drinking! I’ve put this post together to share some tips.
If you are new to wedding photography, you may be unfamiliar with the term ‘wedding hangover’. It refers to that feeling when you attempt to get out of bed the morning following a wedding, and your head is banging and your back is broken, and you feel completely wiped out. I used to feel like that in the early days, and I spent a good few years trying to get the balance right.
If you were going to go on a 10-mile walk, would you sit down after 5 or 6 miles for a three-course meal? If you did, would you feel like completing that walk? That’s the thing. When you are carrying 4kg+ of photography equipment, and walking several miles a day in the heat of summer, then it will serve you well to view the day from a perspective of planning and preparing for a feat of endurance, NOT treating it like a day out.
Your customers have hired you to capture all the important moments of their day, some of which they may miss in the midst of champagne & hugs & catching up with friends and family, so it is both responsible AND proactive of you to look at how best you can do this so that you are firing on all cylinders at all times… and if you miss lunch, are you really going to be performing at your very best?
I made a video where I chat through my approach and show some of the products & accessories I use:
How to Eat for Wedding Photography
During 2009, after a few too many wedding hangovers turned into 3-day migraines from hell, I decided I’d had enough. Enough of the hangovers, not wedding photography!
I realised that lots of other photographers were experiencing the same post-wedding day hangover too, so I embarked on a mission to find a solution. I experimented with carrying my own water to avoid dehydration… but that did not have the effect I was hoping for. When you sweat, you lose vital salts and minerals. Water alone is not enough to keep energy levels balanced. So, on a hot day you can be drinking water all day, but still wake the following morning with a headache.
I started looking at endurance athletes and what professional athletes ate to ensure they performed at their best. I discovered that professional athletes train most days, and have days during the week when they are training in some form or another. How could they do this day in day out, without feeling hungover the morning after an intense day? Sure, they will be used to training, but my hunch was that this was more about energy level maintenance than anything else.
The reality was my nutrition was just not right.
For each subsequent summer, I continued to improve my performance. My friend Rosi Sexton was a professional fighter, which involved pretty intense training, so I sought her advice about maintaining energy levels. She gave me some great advice and recommended the book ‘4-hour body’ by Timothy Ferris. I’d highly recommend it! I have constantly tweaked things and experimented until I hit a sweet spot of feeling GREAT throughout a wedding day AND no wedding hangover the following day.
My Wedding Day Diet
Before I started my research, I thought I ate a lot for breakfast. I thought my porridge was pretty good, way more effective than cereal.
I was wrong.
When I changed to this new breakfast, it took me about 3 months to adapt to eating this much. If you try it and can’t manage it, keep persevering because it’s worth it.
Here’s my current wedding day breakfast for a typical 12 hour day:
300ml Grapefruit juice & sparkling water combo (250ml water, 50ml grapefruit juice)
3 egg omelette with spinach, red onions, cherry tomatoes & 40g of grated cheese
200g of Heinz baked beans
Double shot americano made with freshly ground coffee (250ml)
Throughout the wedding day:
I will snack on protein-rich foods every 2 hours max. Examples of these ‘mini’ meals are:
A handful of salted almonds
A handful of salted peanuts
Protein bar Flapjacks (the healthier type, read labels and steer clear of high sugar options)
I only have flapjacks after the ceremony, so pre-ceremony my focus is fat & protein, then after the ceremony, I introduce more carbs. I also consume carbs in the form of a drink (PhD Recovery 2:1) which helps with keeping my energy consistent. With carbs, you need the right type & to avoid migraines, I need to prevent sugar dips or sugar spikes, so, being picky about my carbs pays off.
Throughout the day I drink both water, coconut water and isotonic low sugar sports drinks. I rotate these so that I’m not having too much sugar from the coconut water or sports drinks, but still getting the isotonic benefits. A few notes on coconut water… Coconut water is naturally isotonic and contains essential electrolytes lost through sweat, so it’s absorbed and keeps you both hydrated and balanced in other areas.
Wedding Photography Hangover Prevention Links:
I LOVED PhD nutrition’s 2:1 Recovery (Carb drink) that I used to have, but they stopped making it.
You could try battery instead It tastes great, and because it’s powder, you can leave it in your car for the whole season. It lasts forever! (links shown are affiliate links)