How To Get Started In Wedding Photography In 7 Steps
How to Become A Wedding Photographer (Tie The Knot!)
I adore shooting weddings! Wedding photography can undoubtedly be challenging at times but can also be gratifying. In this post, I'll discuss some of my personal experiences as I transitioned to wedding photography and outline the seven steps you can take to start working as a professional wedding photographer. Wedding photographers often are required to have a wide range of skills, from portrait photography to photojournalism. Traditional wedding photography provides more classically posed images and much photographer control during the ceremony, capturing critical moments cherished by the couple and their families.
How I Got Started In Wedding Photography
I started contemplating what I wanted to do with my life in my final college years. Since I've always been more creative, the thought of working a 9–5 job seemed incredibly constricting. I changed my major to English during my junior year of college because I have always loved reading and writing. In addition, I enjoyed using my camera on the weekends.
My future sister-in-law's sister got engaged in November 2010 and asked me to take her engagement pictures. She asked if she could hire me after seeing some photos I had taken of my brother and his wife (her sister).
I was initially hesitant. I had never before accepted any paid employment. But I reminded myself that if she hadn't contacted me, she must have liked my work. I decided to launch my company formally and create a Facebook fan page. I thought it would be a fun side gig while I finished my degree.
In the years that followed, I actively sought out senior representatives, ran contests, and saw a steady increase in the number of Facebook fans I had (for senior sessions). I had never even considered doing wedding photography.
Then, that Winter, I got an email that altered the course of my situation. My mother's friend wanted to know if she could hire me to photograph her wedding this summer because it was coming up. Since I had no prior wedding planning experience, I decided to go for it and charged her very little. According to our wedding photography cost guide, most photographers in the United States charge between \$1,150 and \$3,000. In addition to the photography services, it's essential to consider other expenses such as travel expenses and editing.
After making a website for my work, I immediately set up some bridal shoots to begin a portfolio. Then, I started getting more questions. I had never had any second-shooting experience when I shot my very first wedding, and I was terrified. If I could go back, I would have at least shadowed one photographer before taking the photos, even though the couple was delighted with them. As a wedding planner, I realized the importance of networking and building relationships with other professionals in the wedding industry. Detail shots and shots of the wedding venue should, in my opinion, be seen as a way to tell the story of the special day as a whole. Can you include the details in a photo that tells a story? Can your first dance shot show off at the venue?
When I got engaged that spring, I asked the photographer I had hired for my wedding to do a second shoot with her. It was amazing! She was accommodating and permitted me to use all of my photos however I wanted (which is unusual, I know).
Then, a former portrait client came to me and offered to let me second-shoot her wedding even though she already had a wedding photographer. These two opportunities were fantastic, and with the help of both photographers, I could triple the number of bookings I had the following year.
7 Steps To Become A Wedding Photographer
I have several wedding seasons, many weddings scheduled for the upcoming season, and a steady stream of inquiries. Although I am constantly learning how to better my company, I wanted to share the steps I found extremely helpful when attempting to break into the industry as a professional wedding photographer. Dealing with everything from a crazy wedding party to an unpredictable wedding ceremony, Brenda Bergreen has given me valuable experience. (Or watch the YouTube video version.)
1 - Educate Yourself
Educating yourself when you're starting as a photographer is crucial. I participated in workshops led by local photographers, read many blog posts (some links at the bottom of this post), and took some excellent online courses. I practically live on CreativeLive during the off-season. Being able to do it from home makes it an incredible resource for photographers. Make sure to budget time and money for your photography education because technology constantly evolves, and you can always learn more. Being active on social media and having a solid online presence can contribute to your photography success. Many photographers succeed by utilizing platforms like blogging, Pinterest, or Instagram. Some couples have even booked us after following us on social media for a while. Eventually, you'll move beyond natural light and learn about using flash and adding light, but in the beginning, I encourage you to keep it simple. Check out our recent post on How to Start a Wedding Photography Business. Remember, these are beginner wedding photographer tips. If you were going to search for a wedding photographer, where would you start? Would you do a Google search or go on Yelp or TheKnot? Would you search hashtags or ask your friends who their wedding photographer was?
2 - Network With Other Photographers
Don't be reluctant to contact other photographers. I frequently go to events where I can meet other photographers. I've also contacted people for advice, including Jasmine Star and successful photographers in Maine.
Ask to go out for coffee with a local artist whose work you admire. You'd be surprised at how willing other photographers can be to lend a hand. Moreover, once you establish your business, they might ask you to second-shoot for them or send you referrals! Which brings me to my next point.
3 - Be A Second Shooter (Backup Lenses!)
Ask if you can tag along to a second shoot at a wedding after contacting a few local photographers. Even if they don't want you to shoot, there's still a chance you'll get to help and watch them work! This will assist you in determining the best strategy for shooting a wedding by yourself. If you are planning a massive wedding of 200 or more guests, you may want to request a second photographer so they don't miss any of the critical moments of the event.
4 - Reach Out To Engaged Friends and acquaintances Before Elopement
You must find a way to book that first wedding when you start. Spread the word once you have experience with second shooting and feel confident going out alone.
Do you have a college friend who recently announced their engagement? While requesting the opportunity to take their engagement photos, mention that you have collaborated with other photographers to develop your portfolio. If you have been second shooting, you can point them to your portfolio and let them decide. They might want someone with more experience.
I've discovered that many people who contacted me about engagement photos later hired me for their weddings. Most people prefer a consistent aesthetic, so securing the engagement session is a crucial first step in winning the wedding.
Consider including an engagement session in at least one of your wedding packages. When a couple inquires about an engagement shoot, I recommend this as part of my most expensive package.
5 - Create A Website To Showcase Your Best Work & Competitive Pricing
It's essential to have a quality website for your photography business and to understand how to use search engine optimization (SEO).
Ask a seasoned professional photographer to assist you in showcasing your best work. What works and what doesn't, ask them. You might sometimes become too emotionally invested in your career to act rationally.
You only have about seven seconds to keep someone on your page, so put your best work first. I experimented extensively with my site's opening slideshow before finding the right combination to draw attention.
Photography businesses must prioritize SEO. If no one can find your website, it almost has no value. Use particular language in blog posts and site titles to ensure your website appears in online searches. Online resources abound with instructions for doing this.
6 - Submit Your Wedding Photos To Magazines & Blogs
Submitting your work is one of the best ways to get noticed! Find magazines and blogs you think would be a good fit by researching. They are available for every market.
You won't always be accepted, but it will feel amazing when you are! Additionally, you can promote yourself to potential customers using that publication.
7- Don't Give Up!
Early in March, I made the terrible decision to devote my time exclusively to becoming a professional wedding photographer. Even though it was the slow season, it seemed the right time.
There had been silence for at least a month. Every day, I checked my email intently, and when there were no new messages, I assumed I had made the wrong choice. Even though my husband urged me to pursue this, I considered getting a part-time job. You're carrying it out. So I persevered.
I'm so happy I did because the emails began to pick up at the beginning of May. I have no regrets whatsoever about choosing to work as a wedding photographer full-time at this point.
Top 6 Pro Tips For Wedding Photography
Pro Tip 1: Capture the Emotion
Weddings are filled with raw and genuine emotions. As a wedding photographer, your job is capturing precious moments that make the day truly special. Be prepared to document it all from tears of joy to laughter-filled embraces. Couples will cherish these emotional shots for years to come.
Pro Tip 2: Pay Attention to Details
While capturing the big moments is important, remember the little details that make each wedding unique. From the intricate lace on the bride's gown to the carefully arranged table settings, take the time to ensure that every detail is captured beautifully. These small touches add depth and personality to the wedding album and will bring back memories for the couple in the coming years.
Pro Tip 3: Be Flexible and Adaptive
Weddings can be unpredictable, with last-minute changes and unexpected circumstances. As a wedding photographer, it's crucial to be flexible and adaptive to ensure that you can capture every special moment no matter what happens. Whether adjusting your equipment settings or finding creative solutions on the spot, being adaptable will set you apart as a professional.
Pro Tip 4: Build Relationships with Couples
Building relationships with couples is critical to success as a wedding photographer. Take the time to get to know them and understand their vision for their special day. By building trust and rapport, you'll be able to capture their true essence and create photographs that truly reflect their personalities. Be attentive, listen to their ideas, and provide guidance when needed. By establishing a solid connection with your clients, you'll have happy couples and gain valuable referrals for future gigs.
Pro Tip 5: Stay Calm and Composed
Weddings can be chaotic, but as a professional wedding photographer, staying calm and composed throughout the day is essential. The couple relies on you to capture their special moments, so it's crucial not to let any stress or pressure get in the way of your work. Take deep breaths, remind yourself of your expertise, and focus on the task. Your calm demeanor will help put the couple at ease and allow you to think creatively and make the most of every situation.
Pro Tip 6: Capture Candid Moments
While posed shots are essential, don't forget to capture those candid moments that truly reflect the emotions and joy of the day.
The Importance Of Hiring A Professional Wedding Photographer
Hiring a professional wedding photographer is crucial for capturing the most critical moments of your special day. While it may be tempting to rely on friends or family members who are amateur photographers, investing in a professional will ensure that you receive high-quality photographs that truly capture the essence and emotion of your wedding.
Different Styles Of Wedding Photography To Consider
When it comes to wedding photography, there are various styles to consider that can perfectly capture the essence of your special day. Traditional wedding photography focuses on classic poses and formal shots, ensuring all the important moments are captured precisely. On the other hand, the photojournalistic style takes a more candid approach, capturing natural and spontaneous moments as they unfold. If you want something more artistic and creative, fine art wedding photography incorporates unique angles, lighting techniques, and composition to create stunning visual masterpieces. Finally, documentary style also tells a story through images, capturing the raw emotions and authentic moments of your wedding day in a documentary-style format. Each type offers its unique perspective, so choosing a style that resonates with your taste and vision for your wedding photographs is essential.
Top 10 Wedding Photography Tips and Tricks
Here are some pro tips to help you get the best out of your wedding photography experience:
1. Meet with your photographer beforehand:
Schedule a meeting with your chosen photographer to discuss your expectations, preferences, and specific shots or moments you want to capture.
2. Plan an engagement shoot:
An engagement shoot is a practice session that lets you get comfortable in front of the camera and build a rapport with your photographer. This will help create a relaxed and natural atmosphere on your wedding day, resulting in more authentic photographs.
3. Create a shot list:
Make a list of must-have shots you want your photographer to capture, such as family portraits, details of the venue, or specific moments during the ceremony and reception. This ensures that no important moments are missed.
4. Trust your photographer's expertise:
While it's important to communicate your preferences, remember that your photographer is a professional who understands how to capture beautiful moments. Trust their expertise and let them guide you regarding angles, lighting techniques, and composition. They will know how to capture the best shots that highlight your unique love story and the emotions of your wedding day.
5. Utilize natural light:
Natural light can create a soft and romantic ambiance in your photographs. Choose outdoor locations or venues with large windows to take advantage of the beautiful natural light.
6. Capture candid moments:
Some of the most memorable photographs are often those taken when people are unaware they are being photographed. Encourage your photographer to capture candid moments throughout the day, whether the heartfelt laughter during a speech or the stolen glances between you and your partner. These candid shots will help you relive the emotions and joy of your wedding day for years to come.
7. Incorporate unique details:
Do you want to highlight any unique elements or personal touches in your photographs? It could be a beautifully crafted centerpiece, a heirloom piece of jewelry, or even a creative wedding theme. Communicate these details to your photographer so that they can focus on capturing them in all their glory.
8. Be present in the moment:
While having a beautiful collection of photographs to remember your wedding day is essential, it's equally important to be present and thoroughly enjoy every precious second. Don't let the pressure of capturing perfect shots overshadow the joy and love surrounding you. Trust that your photographer will capture all the critical moments, allowing you to focus on creating lifelong memories with your partner and loved ones.
9. Communicate your expectations:
Before the big day, talk with your photographer about your expectations and any specific shots or poses you have in mind. This will ensure that both parties are on the same page and that you receive the quality and style of photography you desire. It's essential to communicate your vision and preferences so that your photographer can capture the essence of your wedding day in a way that reflects your unique personality and love story.
10. Plan for the golden hour:
The golden hour, which occurs during the first and last hours of sunlight, is known for its soft, warm glow and dreamy atmosphere. Talk to your photographer about incorporating this magical time into your photo schedule. Whether capturing romantic portraits with your partner or taking advantage of the ethereal lighting during your outdoor ceremony, planning for the golden hour will add magic to your wedding photos. The soft, warm glow of the golden hour will enhance the love and romance captured in each frame, creating truly breathtaking and timeless images.
What should one look for in a wedding photographer?
When looking for a wedding photographer, it's essential to consider their style and portfolio, experience shooting weddings, reputation and reviews from past clients, pricing and packages, and their personality and ability to make you feel comfortable.
In conclusion, becoming a successful wedding photographer requires dedication and perseverance. It is essential to prioritize SEO and use specific language in blog posts and site titles to increase online visibility. Submitting your work to magazines and blogs can also help you gain exposure and attract potential customers. Remember, it's essential to never give up, even during slow seasons or moments of doubt. Keep pushing forward, and eventually, your hard work will pay off. So embrace the journey and follow your passion for wedding photography with unwavering determination.