How to Become a Wedding Photographer

For Photographers // Published by Sam, Editor - October 10, 2018

If you have a passion for photography and a love of weddings then becoming a professional wedding photographer could be for you, if you are starting out though, it can be difficult to get those first weddings booked, but also to build your experience, knowledge and art.

You may already have experience of photography although not at weddings, maybe fashion photography, landscapes or head shots, however weddings are different, they are live events with lots going on, and only one moment to get that photo.

How Do I become a Photographer?

The wedding photography industry is extremely competitive, the ones that have been doing it for many years, have continually grown and improved growing their art and building their business, they are experienced and established. However there are also many photographers who start out, struggle, charge very low prices to get clients and then retire as it just wasn’t financially viable and couldn’t make it work.

Passion and motivation is required, a determination to make it work, to learn and improve, to stick to what you believe, your style and focus on wanting to do this. When starting out this is what you need to focus on, when struggling to get those first clients booked, keep working, keep practicing and keep pushing. It may be a struggle, it will be hard work, you made need some luck, but if this is what you want then stick with it and keeping going.

Starting out

Truth be told, it is not an easy job for the newcomers in this field. It is competitive and there is a choice of photographers for couples to choose from, ranging in styles and price points. Therefore it is important to find your style, and perfect it. You can use instagram as inspiration but decide what style of photos you like, what do you think looks good and how to you want to capture the day.

Your style maybe unique and it maybe different to others, but as long as couples love your style then they will be interested in hiring you.

Fstoppers have put together this top video on how to become a wedding photographer and why you should. A great video and certainly worth watching.

It is pertinent to state that a quality camera is a pre-requisite for a good photography. Nevertheless, the camera alone will not give you bookings, and a camera does not suddenly make you a professional wedding photographer. These are just tools, you need to develop an art, a skill, a style, experience and knowledge, this is what will make you a professional wedding photographer.

When starting out you need to be true to yourself, find your style and stick to it, don’t copy others, look for inspiration but you need to find your style. Don’t focus on the number of photos, focus on ensuring high quality photos, build a name and style for yourself. Build your skill in such a way that photographers are bound to follow you.

You must believe in yourself and don’t focus on the money, believe in your value, when trying to get those first bookings act like a professional with years of experience and not someone who has just started out and desperate to get some money in.

Getting experience

Not focusing on the money, trying to be a professional, but how do you get that experience? Get yourself a website, get yourself on Instagram, share your photos that match your style, create a name and style for yourself, then contact wedding photographers in your area that you would love to work with, photographers that have a similar style and see if you can work with them as a second shooter to gain some experience.

If you are attending a family or friends wedding, then ask if you could take some photos for them and also use them in your portfolio. Enjoy the day and be there as a guest, but you may also be able to get a few nice photos that you can upload to instagram and use on your website.

You could work with other wedding professionals and put totogethaer a style shoot, suppliers could use some of your photos and they supply dress, finishing touches, and location/venue.

Advice from the professionals

All professional wedding photographers with years of experience all started out in the same position, no experience and starting off in the industry, so here is some of their advice to starting out.

Alexa Poppe

www.alexapoppeweddingphotography.com

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
I highly suggest to get experience first as an assistant with an experienced wedding photographer. Even if you think you are an experienced photographer, with weddings you will face entirely new challenges and after all it’s not a place to practice your skills as there is no space for mistakes. Your photographing a couple’s lifetime memories which can’t be repeated in case something goes wrong.

Gaining experience in the wedding industry also gives you more confidence to deal with your future clients. I also highly suggest to double up your equipment, get a spare camera, spare batteries etc. There is nothing worse than equipment failure!

Leave twice as much time to get there, you never know if you get stuck in traffic etc. Arriving early gives you a nice relaxed start into the day and you can have a look around the venue for possible shots.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
It’s easy to get trapped in the ‘cheap photographer’ category if you keep your prices low to get those first bookings. It will take a long time to push your prices up afterwards as you created a client base targeted at that low price range. It’s better to start somewhere in the middle. Do some research what other photographers charge in your area and offer an average price, but throw some extras in like free prints, albums or a complimentary engagement shoot. Build up a strong portfolio and webpage by photographing family and friend’s weddings first. The most important is to gain a good reputation, make your name known. Try and get featured in magazines and blogs. The more your name pops up, the more confidence your clients get to book you.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
It’s a very competitive business as mentioned above. It’s not just photographing , editing and meeting clients. You will spend a lot of time on your online marketing. Also you will often work when your friends and partner are off as most weddings are at weekends and bank holidays. But if you enjoy capturing moments and when you finally get there, it’s one of the most rewarding jobs. Every time I get good feedback from a couple it puts a big smile on my face. I don’t just see it as a photoshoot, but recording memories, which last for a lifetime.

Matt Selby

www.mattselbyphotography.co.uk

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
I would say it’s important to invest all your time, effort & energy into learning and improving. You have to live and breath it. Constantly shoot, experiment, break rules, set challenges/goals and most of all enjoy what you’re doing. I would also try and offer your services as a second shooter with some established wedding photographers which will be an eye opener for sure!

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Well everybody has to start somewhere, and it can be very tough for a new business to succeed. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t build in a day, so you have to be very patient, and make sure you can support yourself if the bookings don’t come in.

I would recommend building up your portfolio and experience in the field as a second shooter… then use that to market yourself. Price is important but it’s certainly not a case of ‘undercutting your competitor’ to get the job. I always remember the story of a chap who tried to sell his 2nd hand lawn mower for £10.. it was listed for months and he couldn’t sell it… so one day he decided to re-list the item for £100, it sold the same day!

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
I wish I had a better understanding of the magnitude of running a business. It takes more than just being a good photographer to run a successful photography business. You have to be so much more… Obviously you need the skills as professional photographer, but you’ll also find that you need knowledge in all areas of business. You invest time and money into marketing & advertising, sales, customer relationships, web design & SEO, office based duties, having people skills, time management, finance & accounting skills and so much more.

Catalin Anghel

www.anghelbrothers.ro

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
Educate yourself. After learning about photography(photo course) go and ask a photographer to be his/her assistant-for free. Do this at least 1 year.Shoot party’s for friends, theatre, any kind of gigs. Wherever you go take your camera. Learn the camera settings. Let the camera be your arm. If you think something in the next seconds you should know what settings you should have on camera to make it done.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Ask a price. Do not do it for free. If you followed the steps in my previous answer you should gain experience and you should ask for money for your job. Let your friends know that you are a photographer. They should be your first clients. Do not shoot for free even for them. Make a webstie page. Go online on Facebook, Instagram etc. Ask a few friends (couple) to take their photos. Rent a bride dress and a groom suit. After few of these sessions you should have a decent portofolio. Then share your name and advertise.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
That I would gain a decent income after 3 years in the industry. But that doesn’t matter if you are a passionate photographer.

Nabis Wedding Photographers Studio

www.nabisphotographers.com

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
Watching carefully how the professional wedding photographers work, supporting them in the work and then try to evelop an own photographic style. The important thing is to always follow professional ethics.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Promote their selves as much as possible via web, portals, social networks trying to avoid working for free.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
To have empathy with the client (it’s an important quality for the wedding photographer), to be constant and determined in their work.

Photographing your First Wedding

Guide to Photographing your First Wedding

Have you just got your first wedding photography client? Are you wondering where to start and what to do? Worry not, here is a guide that will share with you tips on how to shoot your first wedding.

1. Keep it simple

Your first wedding, you may feel the pressure is on, this is it, a chance to do all those shots you have seen on Instagram, a chance to get those powerful and impressive shots that will look great on your website, but remember, this isn’t about you, this is about the couple getting married and their day. A happy couple, a great testimonial and word of mouth is a lot more important.

Forget about what you have seen and what you want, focus on doing the job the best you can, focus on getting great shots of them, focus on telling a great story of the day through photos, don’t just think about those single or creative shots and forget about those simple shots that are sometimes the best shots.

2. Scout the Venue

If you are not familiar with the venue then if you can go down there and take a look around, speak to the venue and perhaps they can give your a little tour, find the best place to take photos as they walk down the aisle, understand where they will come out, see where you could do some nice group shots and couple photos, are there any nice places in the grounds with a nice background.

This preparation allows you to know in your mind where you want to go and where you need to be. It is one less stress and worry, allowing you to be in position when needs be.

3. Identify the Key People

While at a wedding, the bride and the groom are usually the main focus of attention, there are also other people who are quite important. This includes family members and close friends. These people are an essential part of the wedding and you need to take a lot of shots of them.

When interacting with the client, feel free to ask who the key people in their wedding are. Is it their close friends? Their parents? Siblings? If they would like some group shots or family photos then ask for a picture list so you know who is needed for which photos. Again this is all about helping you prepare and giving you more time taking photos instead of chasing around people and waiting.

4. Familiarise Yourself with the Order of Events

As a wedding photographer, you need to be at the right place at the right time always. Because the day is usually packed with different events, you need to be aware of them prior. Once you have a list of the order of events, you need to plan how you will get between them and the different locations.

The order of the day allows you to know what time the bride will be walking down the aisle, exchanging of rings, confetti shots, drinks reception, evening meal, cutting of the cake and the first dance. You can also ask the bride and groom if they want an specific photos, and also if there are any surprises that you should know about, such as fireworks in the evening as a surprise to their guests.

5. Bring Someone Along

Bringing someone along is always an excellent idea. Being your first wedding shoot, you will need all the help that you can find. If you have an assistant with you, you will be more comfortable and confident in your work. Plus, two heads will always be better than one, it gives you someone who can help organise the group shots, and help with lighting.

6. Your Gear & Backup

Prepare your gear, ensure everything is set up, ensure you have back ups, a back up camera, a back up battery, back up memory cards. Make sure you are prepared and have your own insurance if anything does go wrong with your equipment.

A wedding isn’t a random event that can be redone in case the photos/videos disappear. Therefore, this is something that isn’t worth risking. You should backup all these files immediately the wedding is over. Backing up the photos and videos on a cloud is also a great idea as well as back up drives.

Finally Relax.

Try to relax and have fun. Be a part of the ceremony and you will see how things will flow smoothly. Prepare as much as you can, understand the day, the key people, where you need to be, how you are going to get there, ensure you have a back up batteries and memory cards, be ready, then relax, make the couple feel at ease and capture the day.

As it’s your first wedding photography, it’s advisable that you keep it as simple as possible. Don’t overdo things with the aim of pleasing your client.

Don’t worry, you will feel more relaxed with experience, allowing you to develop your style and art. Enjoy it and do the best you can.


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