Professional wedding photographers have an immense responsibility to make sure that the big day’s special moments are captured and beautifully presented to the couple; it is an industry of passion and love; however, it certainly isn’t easy.
There’s something unique about being a wedding photographer. It’s a job that is filled with joyful moments and happiness. A wedding photographer plays a significant part in the best day of someone’s life. Plus, you can make a fair amount of cash capturing those joyful moments. Could this be a career for you? Well, it’s undoubtedly an excellent idea, but there are certain things you need to know before you take the plunge.
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There’s a reason why so many families are willing to pay for a professional wedding photographer. Wedding photography can pose some serious challenges, even to seasoned photographers. You might think you’ve gotten an excellent series of images, but when you see them on your laptop back at home, it can get a little disappointing. Why is wedding photography so hard?
Why Is Wedding Photography So Hard?
There are several factors. You’re indoors most of the time, you’ve got family members running in several different directions, and you have to be careful about using flash at the wrong times. Adding to this, you need to find the correct times to move around without drawing attention to yourself. Timing and experience are crucial.
Churches aren’t very well lit. It’s so dark inside that if you try to take pictures without using a flash, there’s a good chance they’ll turn out blurry. So a moment is almost a must. Unfortunately, most flashes that come with a point-and-shoot or primary digital SLR camera aren’t bright enough to illuminate your surroundings properly.
As a result, you end up inching ever closer to the bride and groom. Now when you take the picture, they look like deer in headlights. Most on-camera flashes make the centre of the image bright while the edges remain dark.
The only real solution to this problem is trying and bouncing the light from the flash off of something. This will make it less intense, so your pictures look more natural. Once I got more experienced, I bought a better moment that hooks into my hotshoe. I then pointed the flash up at the wall and used the reflected light to take the picture. Trust me; it’s much better than just shooting head-on. Our exclusive range of Melbourne wedding photography will help you not miss a thing on your wedding day.
People are demanding to corral
Everyone wants to visit with everyone else during a wedding. While this is understandable, you’ve also got to do your job and get everyone together for all of the essential shots. As a photographer, this can be tough to do. People don’t know who you are, so you can come off a little strange asking them to gather for a photo.
You have to be a little sneaky.
Make sure you establish when it’s okay and not okay to use flash. Everyone is going to have different feelings about this. The truth is that you need a little bit of leverage while the bride and groom are saying their vows. If you don’t have the option to use your flash, you might miss the shot altogether (unless the bride and groom are saying their vows outdoors).
You’ll want to get a lot of different angles, and that can mean moving around during some somewhat inappropriate times. Many beginner photographers are worried about upsetting everyone, so they just stay in the same place during the entire ceremony. An experienced wedding photographer knows the correct times to move around without being noticed.
A lot is going on at once
Most professional wedding photographers don’t do the entire event on their own. They have an assistant helping them out. During the reception, you can focus on the bride and groom while your assistant gets everyone else having a good time. The extra help makes wedding photography seem like it isn’t such a monumental challenge.
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Things You Should Know About Being a Wedding Photographer
Before you get started on your journey as a professional wedding photographer, here are the things you must know:
It all starts with the right set of equipment.
It’s pointless becoming a wedding photographer if you don’t know anything about your gear. Photographers rely on their equipment as birds rely on their wings – it’s an absolute necessity! As a result, you can’t get away with just buying any old cameras and pointing them at the bride and groom. You must understand what equipment works best in wedding formats and which settings you should alter to get the best shots.
Here is are some of the pieces of gear to research:
- Cameras (main and one spare)
- A medium zoom lens like the 24-70 f/2.8 lens
- A telephoto lens like the 70-200mm
- A wide-angle lens and prime lens
- External flash (Speedlight)
- Memory card and batteries
- Tripod and light stand
- Flash diffuser
- Camera bag
Don’t forget about lighting from preparation to receptions. Lighting can make or break a photoshoot, and when it comes to weddings, light is part of the art, and it’s as essential as your gears.
Get ready for a long and tiring day.
You tend to forget how long a wedding is. When someone hires you to take photos of their marriage, they usually want you there for the whole shebang.
This means you’re there bright and early to take photos during the ceremony – which can last a fair few hours. Not to mention any travel time to the venue; you might need to be up at the crack of dawn in some cases!
After you’ve already been hard at work for a few hours, the wedding party disbands as everyone makes their way to the reception venue. Here, they’ll eat food and party way into the night. As such, you could be working until close to midnight.
It’s physically and mentally draining, so make sure you’re prepared for this. Get in a good night’s sleep the night before, and have all your equipment packed and ready. Bring a few bottles of water and some snacks with you as well – this will keep you energized and awake!
Remember to stay creative when you regularly shoot your weddings; the last things you want is depleting your creative spark. Keep yourself motivated by looking into some inspirational wedding photos. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
Find out who specifically hired you for the wedding.
Being a wedding photographer means there are loads of people that would have hired you. The bride may be the one that wants you there, or it could be one of the parents. Either way, you need to know who your boss is on this big day.
Why? Because it dictates what you’ll do and how you’ll do it. Talk to them, so you understand what they want from you and the type of photos they’re hoping to see. If you don’t know who hired you, then you don’t know how to please them!
Every wedding has a story behind it; perhaps they have a specific idea or a special place. Find those stories and use them as a guide for a meaningful and thoughtful wedding photoshoot.
It’s all about building relationships.
Wedding photographers will either be hired directly by the couples or by wedding planners. Therefore, it can be confusing about who you work for! You don’t technically work for the planner, but you still need to keep their needs in mind.
You need to ensure that you carry out such a high standard of work that reflects positively on them. They can showcase your images on their website, making them look like exceptional wedding planners with perfect vendors. As a result, their reputation grows, which also means your reputation grows.
Building a good relationship with them will start to refer you to other people, which helps grow your business!
In some cases, the wedding photographer wears the same hat as the wedding planner, where you will be involved in a lot of stuff besides shooting the wedding day. Don’t let that demotivate you. Remember that you are building a relationship with everyone involved, and the main goal is to satisfy the couple.
By the end of the day, and after they see that beautiful wedding album, they will write a testimonial that can win you more and more deals.
You need to be different.
Why is someone going to hire you if your photos are identical to other wedding photographers out there? So, you have to make yourself stand out, which comes in the form of unique photography.
Practice makes perfect; try taking snaps at home and developing a style of wedding photography that’s different to what’s already out there. This gives you a unique selling point, which makes your service more attractive.
Try to experiment with wedding and engagement poses as it can differentiate you from the rest; a good wedding photographer knows everything about creative poses.
It will take up a lot of your time.
Wedding photography falls into three phases; pre-production, production, and post-production. All of this will take up literally months of your time – and that’s not an exaggeration.
Pre-production begins way in advance of the wedding when you’re booked in for this service. You may have to deal with lots of questions and directions from the bride/groom, which can continue right up to the big day.
As far as production goes, it’s already been touched upon in the second point! Then, you have post-production, which is full of editing and distributing your images. Be prepared to commit a lot of your time to wedding photography – it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Work usually comes in clusters.
The thing with wedding photography is that you rely on people to get married! Do many people get married in the dead of winter? No. Do people get married during heat waves? No.
Realistically, there are about a few months of the year when people look to get married. This usually spans from around May through to August. So, you may struggle to find work at all other points of the year.
As such, your work can come in a big cluster during the wedding season. So, be prepared to seek out additional work when there aren’t many weddings!
The weddings off-season is the time to market your services. Remember that being a wedding photographer is not only about shooting the wedding day itself — you’re also the salesperson.
Wedding photography can be hard work.
A common misconception is that taking photos of weddings must mean your day is filled with loads of fascinating sights and scenes. But, the reality is far from that.
You could spend your day travelling many hours to a wedding, standing around for ages trying to find things to photograph, and then trekking back home in the dead of night. It’s not always going to be a lavish occasion, so reel in your expectations!
Rejection is natural
Listen, it’s impossible to get into wedding photography without experiencing rejection. Remember, this is the biggest day of two people’s lives; they need to make sure everything is perfect.
So, there will be times where people don’t want you to work at their wedding because they’re just not 100% sold on your photography. That’s fine; there will be people out there that love your style.
Take rejections with a pinch of salt – even the most experienced photographers get rejected by some clients. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible photographer who should bin their cameras and never take a photo ever again. It just means you don’t really match, so move on and look for other clients elsewhere.
The Most Difficult Things About Being A Wedding Photographer
Like any profession, there are pros and cons involved in Wedding Photography. It’s a difficult job, and not everyone is cut out for it.
When you try to become a wedding photographer, you’ll find yourself faced with a bit of a problem. You need experience shooting weddings to get hired, but you can’t get experience until you get hired.
This is incredibly challenging and tough for any photographer to get around.
Some will do a second shooting for an established photographer to get that experience, and others will luck out with a friend or family member willing to take a chance on them.
Either way, it takes hard work and perseverance to get that much-needed experience under your belt. And not only is it tough just to get a job, but it’s a significant investment of money to get all the gear needed to do that wedding justice.
These events require multiple lenses, flashes, backup equipment, and oodles of batteries and memory cards, not to mention enough hard drives to back up the images correctly! That’s a lot of cash to fork out before you’ve even really got the business running.
Now, you can rent gear to make those first few weddings a little less costly, but if you’re serious about getting into the business, you’ll eventually have to make a serious investment.
This one could use pretty much number 2 – 5 because there are so many aspects of wedding photography that can be difficult. First off is just figuring out how to get it up and running. Then, as the owner, you quickly realize that you are responsible for your company’s working parts.
You are now the:
- Marketing department
- Graphic designer
- Customer service department
…and pretty much any other title you can think of.
It’s you. That’s not only a lot of responsibility, but a lot of learning that has to go on to figure out how to make it all run smoothly!
Then there’s pricing. Oh, pricing — one of the most challenging and scary parts of being any sort of photographer. Are you doing it right? Getting paid what you’re worth? Are you choosing prices that are going to make your business fail? It can get more accessible, and luckily there are resources out there to try and help you sort it out, but it’s still scary and overwhelming and the cause of many ulcers.
Mega Amounts of Work
Once you realize just how many pieces go into running a business, it’s no surprise that wedding photography is a LOT of work. Add on all the actual business stuff, like marketing, branding, paperwork, pricing, bookkeeping, and you’ll start to see why wedding photographers don’t get a ton of sleep.
There’s a dangerous myth that floats around, suggesting that they only have to work one day of the week and make tons of cash. But they generally work a typical five day week, have meetings and engagement shoots in the evenings, and then shoot weddings on Saturdays. Yeah, mega amounts of work. Starting to think about hiring a wedding photographer? Check out our range of Mornington Peninsula wedding photography here.
With all that work comes the challenge of balance. Weddings can very quickly take over your whole life. Finding time to be a person and not a wedding photographer is brutal. Your relationships with friends and family also tend to suffer since you’re usually not accessible on Fridays or Saturdays during the wedding season. It can be isolating and downright exhausting to be so consumed by one thing.
Burnout isn’t far behind. It’s easy to lose the passion and love for the necessary job to produce high-quality work without balance.
In almost all parts of the world, weddings are seasonal. It either becomes too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer, so you’ll find yourself with hardly any work during those months. No surprise that that makes it difficult to pay the bills!
You can either try to make enough in the wedding season to get yourself through the rest of the year or find ways to keep bringing in money when the weddings stop. It’s a big challenge.
Making A Good Living
Straight up, no sugar coating, it is difficult to make a good living as a wedding photographer. You need to be great at photography and great at business. You need to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace and figure out how to stand out from the crowd.
You need to solve the problem of seasonality and set prices smartly to turn a profit. You need to keep your costs low, but your customer experience is world-class. It’s easy enough to make money at wedding photography; there’s always someone willing to pay $1,000 for the shoot and files. But making a good living is an entirely different story.
Handling The Responsibility
Weddings don’t come with do-overs or reshoots. You get only one chance to capture the walk down the aisle, the first kiss, or the bouquet toss.
You not only need to be technically skilled enough to be sure you can nail those critical shots, but you also need to be able to handle that kind of pressure and still think creatively! This certainly gets easier the more you shoot, along with lots of preparation, but you should never lose that understanding that you’re shooting a once-in-a-lifetime event.
It’s a lot of responsibility.
Mentally & Physically Exhausting Shoots
Weddings are usually at least 8 hours of shooting, commonly jump up to 14, and can get crazy at 21 hours (which was our longest day ever). That time requires continual mental and physical effort as you follow the bride and groom around, documenting their experiences. Scarfing granola bars and chugging energy drinks helps you get through the day, but then there is the much-discussed “wedding hangover” afterwards.
Sunday is necessary for just recovering!
The long hours also do a number on your back and shoulders from carrying so much gear around, and if you aren’t careful, you can quickly get dehydrated. You get to handle all of this while having to remain upbeat and cheery at every moment!
Pleasing A Wide Range of People
Your proximity to the bride and groom during the whole day brings you into contact with all the important people (bridal party, parents, planners, officiants, etc.). Many of these are folks you have to take photos of, so you also have to direct them as well.
Many of them have a vested interest in both how the day goes and how the photos turn out. So you get the challenge of pleasing them all! It’s possible but requires a lot of effort, understanding, flexibility and most of all, patience. The bonus is that the better you can do this, the more likely you are to get referrals from a wide range of people, not just the bride and groom!
Finding Your Unique Style
We’ve already listed nine difficult things and haven’t even really touched on actually shooting a wedding! While it’s a very diverse event and requires many different photographic skills, finding your unique style can be the most challenging.
The wedding industry can seem obsessed with a different trend every year, and half the photographers and three-quarters of the blogs follow suit. Brides are influenced by all these sources and look to get that trend for their images.
It seems easier to just jump on board and ride the trend to success rather than pave your way. But trends are fickle creatures, and in another year, it will be something different. My prediction is that vintage gives way to ninjas. You heard it here first.
Jokes aside, basing your style on a trend is dangerous. Once the winds change, you’re old news. But you want your work to have a unique style, to make it cohesive and appealing to the right kind of bride.
And therein lies the challenge because accomplishing this isn’t something that you’re ever done with. Your style will evolve as you evolve as an artist. The key to making it unique is to ignore what all the other shooters are doing and pay attention to your voice.
Look for inspiration anywhere other than the wedding industry. Check out what’s happening in the graphic design world, or visit museums regularly. The more diverse you make your inputs, the more unique your style will become, the more you’ll stand out, the easier it will be to rise above and outlast the trends! Now, I know that reading all those complex parts of being a wedding photographer can be scary. I don’t want to sugarcoat the experience—it’s tough.
But there are a ton of beautiful things about the job as well.
The most important thing to take away from this discussion is that you need to enter the industry with a realistic expectation of what it will take to succeed. If you’re deeply passionate about the images you can create for your clients, you’ll have the energy and dedication required to do a solid business out of it.
After all, being a wedding photographer means you get to eat lots and lots of tasty cake, and that’s the sign of a magical job!
Make the most out of it.
Sure, some weddings can be long and tedious affairs that physically and mentally drain you. But, you should still try your best to make the most out of every single job you undertake! Think of it this way; you’re doing an incredibly fantastic job. You’re capturing positive images that people will hold dear for the rest of their lives. Even couples that divorce will keep their wedding photos because they’re so unique! If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
It’s a profession that you should enjoy, despite any of the pitfalls you may face. Think about the positives; you get to see people at their happiest points ever – and that’s special. If you want to enter the big wide world of wedding photography, you now know what to expect! Don’t be discouraged by all of this information; use it to plan out your career and be ready for what lies ahead.