Wedding photography can offer a challenging yet rewarding career. Here are some top tips to help you make it in this challenging industry.
With so much money being spent on weddings, couples want to make sure they remember every detail of the day, and, unsurprisingly, many view the photographs as one of the essential elements of the wedding. With more and more couples willing to spend money on good quality photographs, there are plenty of opportunities out there for aspiring wedding photographers.
If you are thinking about a career as a wedding photographer, you must consider some things before you jump in.
Is it right for you?
Before embarking on a career as a wedding photographer, it’s essential to first think carefully about whether it’s the right path for you. Wedding photography may seem like a fun, glamorous career, but it is a lot of hard work in reality.
The wedding day itself is a lot of work; you may find yourself on your feet and running around for 10 hours at a time with little opportunity for rest. And it’s not just the wedding day. You will also need to dedicate a lot of time to post-production, client meetings, and more standard business activities such as marketing, communications, admin, and finance.
It’s demanding work and not for everyone, but if you’re happy to put in the effort, you could have a rewarding career ahead.
We’re not going to sugar-coat it. Making a full-time living out of being a wedding photographer can be a long and arduous journey. That being said, it certainly isn’t impossible, and there are plenty of steps you can take to give yourself a leg-up compared to the competition.
- Having an in-depth knowledge of all types of photography is essential. Not every wedding is the same, and you’ll have to adapt to meet your client’s needs. To do this, you need to work on the fly and provide an excellent all-around service.
- To make it a freelance wedding photographer, you must develop solid business acumen. In a highly competitive market, you need to know how to make your work visible, get noticed, and maintain strong relationships with potential clients, clients and ex-clients.
- The single most significant advantage you can have when trying to break into the wedding photography industry has a killer portfolio. Whether you take pictures in your spare time, for a friend, or simply free of charge, building a portfolio is the best way to show potential clients and employers your eye, style, and skills.
If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
Experience is key
When it comes to building your photography career, there is no substitute for experience. Gaining relevant experience will help build your confidence and improve your photography skills, enabling you to offer a better service to future clients. Try to get a job as an assistant with a well-established wedding photographer or apply for an internship or work experience. As well as learning from a professional, you will also gain valuable insight into the industry and what the job entails.
Create a portfolio
Any potential clients will want to see examples of your work, so it’s essential to build up a professional portfolio that showcases your talent and personal style. The practical work undertaken in a photography course can be added to your portfolio. Alternatively, suppose you have friends or family who is getting married. In that case, you may want to offer them your photography services for free in return for using the photographs in your portfolio. As your experience grows, remember to constantly update your portfolio always to show clients your best work.
Getting the right equipment
Using the right equipment is vital if you want to achieve professional, high-quality results. Unfortunately, photography equipment is expensive, which can be difficult for a wannabe wedding photographer who’s just starting. However, a few fundamental essentials should help you get the results you want, and you can add to your equipment as your business grows. When you’re starting, a good quality digital SLR camera is a must (two if possible), along with a selection of three or so lenses that allow you to capture general, portrait, low-light shots, and a flash. Besides cameras and lenses, you will also need some decent post-production equipment, such as a computer and image editing software.
Building your business
Once you have the skills and experience, it’s time to start building your business. Before starting, it’s essential to research the industry and your chosen location. For instance, if you’re operating in the South East, do some research on the London and Essex wedding photography industry.
This will help you find out what other photographers are doing in your area, where your work and style fits in, and how to set your service list and prices accordingly. You might also pick up some valuable pointers from your competitors! There are also more practical things to consider, such as ensuring you have Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance in place to protect both you and your clients.
Looking for wedding photography Melbourne? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
What qualifications do I need?
Strictly speaking, you don’t need to have any formal qualifications to become a wedding photographer. All you need is a quality camera, some lighting equipment, as well as your eye for the perfect shot and editing software. If you’re pursuing a career as a freelance wedding photographer, it’s not imperative to have any qualifications; it’s far more essential to have an excellent portfolio.
However, if you’re after a role in a wedding photography firm, at the very least, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in photography or another related subject. This is important as a formal education will provide you with all the necessary skills to excel in your career and prepare you for shooting in different locations, weathers and scenarios.
Wedding Photography Education
Before you declare yourself a wedding photographer and jump right in, it is very important to have solid knowledge. Weddings are very complex and are incredibly different from one to the next. What works at one wedding might not work at another.
In the past, learning a new skill was difficult. You had to read books or find someone to train you. Today, training is available everywhere and often for free. You have websites like this one, Improve photography, that is here to help you. Check out this great article about being a wedding photographer.
If you’re more of a visual person, there are thousands of videos on YouTube that can teach you the different skills needed to be a wedding photographer. Other people like the whole hands-on experience. I know there are wedding photographers out there who do one-on-one training, and there are also workshops you can attend.
Take advantage of all of these educational opportunities, and get a good solid foundation. I would suggest learning about posing, off-camera flash, different equipment needed, what to expect throughout the day, and business tactics. Those are just a few, but that’s an excellent place to get started.
Learn the Basics of Wedding Photography
Weddings are magical. A professional wedding photographer is part of laughter and joy, from the bride walking down the aisle and the wedding party’s celebration to a mother’s tears and dancing at the reception. But while documenting weddings can be a fulfilling career choice – and can lead to more than one complimentary glass of champagne – it’s crucial to take a serious approach to learn your craft.
The happy couple is unlikely to forgive you for botched or subpar photos. So, to be successful in this field, you’ll need to make sure your skills are top-notch. As with most types of photography, you will need a varied array of skills to be successful. This includes a working familiarity with your camera and lens or lenses.
You should be able to switch seamlessly between camera modes, understand white balance, create a shallow depth of field (giving you the “blurred background” effect), determining the correct DSLR exposure, the rule of thirds, ensuring horizons are horizontal, everyone and everything is in focus and more.
Traditional university classes, continuing education courses at a community college, photography books and online tutorials are viable approaches to learning photography. However, there is no substitution for an education when you only have one shot, and it must be right.
Photography schools typically cover equipment, technique, processes, and design and composition. An artistic eye and creative ability are also essential as you will be responsible for framing a good photo. Strong communication and people skills and the capacity to meet deadlines are skills a wedding photographer should have.
You will talk with clients before the event, during the event and after everyone has gone home. Even freelance photographers with no or little formal training must have skills and knowledge beyond the ability to take a great photo.
Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Master Multiple Photography Styles
Becoming a good wedding photographer requires mastering a variety of different photography styles. For instance, unlike still photography, many of a wedding photographer’s subjects will be in motion in which people and objects are ready and poised.
On the other hand, unlike a genre such as sports photography – where most of the objects are in motion – you still need to command portrait and group photography. To move fluidly between staged shots of family members and wedding parties to candid snaps of dancing and bouquet tosses requires skilled familiarity with the camera.
Wedding pictures also require many different focal lengths and camera angles, ensuring both people and objects shine through your photographs. This is crucial when you’re documenting someone’s special day. For instance, during the cake cutting, a wedding photographer will highlight both the happy couple and the delectable dessert.
Similarly, for wedding party shots, a photographer will focus on both the bridesmaids and groomsmen, along with the decorated gazebo in the background. A professional will know the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, and how aperture affects field depth, when to use a flash, or how light affects a bride’s face.
You’ll also need excellent organisational skills. To make fabulous wedding shots, you need to understand the program’s timing, organise the wedding party and family members into a series of pictures that limits the number of switch-ups you do and keeps things moving.
The organisational challenge involved in wedding photography and an inability to take beautiful photos usually trips up new photographers just entering the field.
Wedding Photography Experience
Once you have a vital education and understanding, move on to gaining experience. Practice does make perfect, but more importantly, people aren’t going to hire you if you haven’t photographed many weddings. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.
Practice All the Time
Digital cameras are great because you can shoot as much as you want, and it doesn’t cost anything. Back in the film day, you had to pay for every shot. Get out there and practice as much as you can. Practice indoors, outdoors, with people, with objects, with natural light, with flash, or anything else you can think of. The more you expose yourself to, the more you learn and the better you will get. One other thing, and I’ve made this mistake, don’t try something new at a wedding! Practice it at home first, figure it out, and then you can use it at a wedding.
One of the best ways to get started is with the second shooting. This is where you go with the lead photographer and are the backup. You might be there to get different angles, or you might be assigned to photograph certain things. I usually have my second photographer get detailed shots at the reception and sometimes cover the groom getting ready.
With second shooting, you can get a lot of experience quickly. By working with someone that’s already established, you will have plenty of weddings. You won’t have to find them on your own. The best thing is you get to watch the lead photographer work, learn from them, and practice yourself without being in charge.
Each photograph does things differently, so you’ll have to discuss that with them. One major thing to discuss is the photos. Will you be allowed to use any of your shots in your portfolio, or do they all belong to the lead photographer? Some might also put a non-compete clause in their contract. This would mean that you’d be limited on where you could work if you stopped working with them. Either way, you will be building skills and gaining experience. For most people, a year or two of a second shooting should be enough.
Wedding Photography Equipment
When I bought my first digital camera, it cost over $1000. Now, people can buy a decent DSLR for around $500. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that’s all they need to be a wedding photographer. Please don’t do this! This scares me to death. You need much more to do a decent job.
In general, the minimum you will need is two camera bodies, a wide and long lens, a flash, multiple memory cards, and various batteries. Stuff breaks and gets lost, so it’s crucial to have backups for everything. Each wedding is going to be different, so having different lenses and a flash is a must. Batteries are going to die, and if you don’t have more, you’re done.
Now, all of that equipment will cost anywhere between $2000-$10,000 depending on the quality of the equipment. I’d say for most expect to spend $4000. That’s a lot of money, so there are some things you can do. One strategy is to rent your equipment. You can either rent everything or own a few pieces and rent a few.
Some people like doing this, but I’d much rather own all of my equipment. I don’t want to waste money renting, and when I own it, I can use it whenever I want. This can also be what you do while you slowly build up your equipment. Shoot a wedding, buy a new piece of equipment. Shoot a wedding, buy something else. Eventually, you’ll own everything you need. For a few other people, you can buy it all at once. Be careful, though, and don’t put yourself in too much debt.
Please remember, this is just for the minimum equipment. I am still constantly looking at equipment and upgrading and getting new things. To be a great wedding photographer, there are several other things you’ll need over the years: more lenses, more flashes, light stands, and plenty of other accessories.
We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.
Getting Your First Wedding
Now that you know what you’re doing and have some experience, it’s safe to start finding your weddings. The real issue is, how do you get those first few weddings? Most couples are going to ask you how many weddings you’ve shot on your own before hiring you. It can be tricky getting those first few because you’ve never shot any on your own. That’s why I suggest you start by doing the first few for free.
Free weddings are a great way to start. First, people like things for free, so they are more likely to say yes. If you start off asking for money, you’re less likely to get hired without the solo shooting experience.
Two, there’s not as much pressure with a free wedding. Once you start asking for money, you have to perform. On your first few solo weddings, you will make some mistakes. It’s much better to have that happen when you’re doing it for free.
There are a few things to consider offering free weddings. Don’t just give them to anyone. Find someone that’s going to help you. Are they attractive? Will their wedding look good, or will it look cheap?
Do they have connections to could help you in the future? I know some of that sounds judgmental, but remember, you’re doing this for free and to help build your business. Once you’ve done three or four of these and you feel more confident and have a solid portfolio, stop! Now you can move on to making money!
Wedding photographers are professionals who specialise in memorialising some of the most critical moments of their client’s lives—their wedding day. Succeeding in this field requires a photographer to have extensive knowledge of indoor and outdoor photography and an ability to improvise under various changing conditions. Wedding photographers must effectively work with the bridal party, event planners, relatives and venue managers. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.