Some people may think that becoming a wedding photographer is easy. Many people now own a half-decent camera and would like to start earning money from their photography. It’s perceived as a simple way to earn cash. All you have to do is turn your hobby of taking photos into a business and start charging people. Because it is viewed as only one day a week and pays well, it’s the natural progression for photographers who have struggled to make money from other pursuits. But the reality is that it is not so simple to become a wedding photographer. It’s not an easy job, and it’s not just a one-day-a-week job.
Here are five steps that you can implement now to begin your career as a successful wedding photographer.
The first and most important step is to practice. And I mean really practice. You may be handy with a camera, but wedding photography is a very specific kind of photography that you’ve probably never tried. It’s a very difficult thing to shoot. You have a very limited amount of time, dozens of people to organize, stressed-out brides, possibly bad weather conditions, and a whole load of pressure to get it right. But don’t let that scare you off—it just means that you need to be prepared. Do your research on the venue and the people involved.
The best thing you can do to prepare is to practice. If you have friends who are willing to help you, ask them to pretend to be a happily married couple and do some bridal photographs of them. You’ll discover whether you have the ability to pose people. Then try and do it with a small timescale and see if you still get decent photos. Try taking photos in rain and different lighting conditions. Practice the group photos if you get the chance. Maybe at a friend’s party or a family gathering. Try anything to help you feel confident in the fact that you can do it under pressure, because you only get one chance to get it right.
2. Start following blogs of other wedding photographers.
Learn from them. Find photographs that you think are amazing and work out how they did them and how you can do them, too. Create a collection of inspiring pictures.
3. Begin working on a website.
This is something that could generate a lot of leads in the future, and it is also integral that you have somewhere to direct traffic. You need to have at least a basic website in place for people to be able to see what you can do. You don’t want to miss out on a potential lead because you missed this simple step.
Getting your website to rank well on Google and other search engines is a very long process. The sooner you start building up a good website, creating content, and getting your name out there, the better.
Make your website specific to the area that you’re targeting. If you are looking for work in a certain location, use the keyword for that location throughout your website—even in the URL, if possible, to really help with SEO. If you want to be known as a certain type of photographer—such as a reportage, candid, or natural wedding photographer—then use those words. The key is to choose a niche audience and stick to it.
4. Get some promotional material.
This could be in the form of business cards, flyers, or anything physical that you can hand out. One simple thing to do is to get some nice business cards printed and ask to leave them in wedding-related stores. This could be in wedding dress shops, formal wear boutiques, fancy car rental companies, etc. Many shops won’t allow it, but there are always some that do.
Make your card stand out in some way, as it might be competing with many other wedding photographers’ cards.
Hand out flyers and cards at wedding expos or fairs.
5. Start buying equipment.
Wedding photographers must have their own quality camera and a range of quality lenses. But don’t stop there; you also need a backup camera body as a minimum. You can’t even begin to think of being a wedding photographer if you don’t have a backup camera. It’s too great a risk, and you could really ruin someone’s big day. If you’re still saving up, borrow off a friend or hire one for the day. It is also very useful to use two cameras with different lenses so that you don’t have to keep swapping lenses.
6. Work on it everyday.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to get into wedding photography. A good place to start is by offering your services to anyone you know. Ask them to get the word out that you’re available. Once you do one wedding well, another will follow as a result.
It’s a long process, and it may take years to be able to earn a sustainable living. The best thing you can do is to just be persistent ad never give up. Do something every day that helps, whether it be practice photography, learning some new techniques, working on your website, or doing some footwork. Never just sit back and wait for the customers to come knocking, because you’ll be waiting a while.
About the Author:
This article was written by Ryan Forster. A documentary wedding photographer based in York, UK but originally from Australia.
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