6 Things to Do to Become a Wedding Photographer

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 is 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 1 day a week and pays well, it is 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 is not an easy job and it is not just 1 day a week.

Here are 5 steps that you can implement now to begin your career as a successful wedding photographer.

1. 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 which you’ve probably never tried. It is a very difficult thing to shoot. You have a very limited amount of time, dozens of people to organise, 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 into 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 friends party or family gathering. 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 who you aspire to. 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 hire, fancy car hire etc. Many shops won’t allow it but there are always ones who do. Make your card stand out in some way as it might be competing with many other wedding photographer’s cards. Hand out flyers and cards at wedding expos or fairs.

5. Start buying equipment. A wedding photographer 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 1 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, learn some new techniques, work on your website or do some footwork. Never just sit back and wait for the customers to come knocking because you’ll be waiting a while.

Are Expensive Wedding Photographers Better Than Inexpensive Wedding Photographers?

Some brides and grooms out there pay excessive amounts for wedding photographers. There is nothing wrong with this if you know exactly the photographer you want and you fall in love with their work. It also helps if you can afford it. The question is however, is a more expensive wedding photographer a better photographer? Is an inexpensive and more affordable photographer just not as qualified? Well I know of one photographer that actually charges over $50,000 to shoot an 8 hour wedding. He sold the photos from the wedding at ridiculous prices to. Let’s just say a wallet sized photo was $60.00. And guess what? The bride & groom and their family ordered tons of pictures at those bloated prices? Do you know what the photographer paid for the photo?

Let us just say he made out like a bandit. Wow. So basically if that photographer shot only 2 weddings a year that would be a pretty nice income for most people. Many photographers have figured this out and created their wedding photography package prices to be high priced and bloated. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this but if you are wondering if these people that paid so much for their wedding photography got better photography coverage at their wedding because they could afford more, you are mistaken. So why did all these people pay so much money for their wedding photography? Were the photos better quality?

Were they on diamond covered photo paper? Did he have a special camera? No, no and no. This “high-end” photographer actually once worked at a regular priced photography studio. He left that studio confident that he could get a high price for his work and began marketing himself in more affluent areas with very classy looking, artsy ads. That was it. He only needed one or two weddings a year to make a good living but what he did do was change his perceived value. Perceived value when it comes to anything is a funny thing. Was his photography so amazing? He was really good as are many photographers but he also wasn’t any better than the art student that came in with photos he took from his cousins wedding. He definitely in my opinion was not worth 50k.

He shot weddings in the same nice attire that all the other photographers shot in, he had the same photography equipment as most of them… so what it comes down to is how he marketed himself and what his perceived value was. Word of mouth among the affluent about this “high-end” photographer allowed him to do very well in his business but behind the scenes, he was laughing all the way to the bank. A good photographer is a good photographer. You can change his/her perceived value around with a twist of marketing and words. The thing is, many photographers are not always great business people. If they were, they would open up their own studios and charge whatever they like. In fact, often inexpensive photographers can be true artists.

They prefer to focus more on their passion of photography & shooting weddings rather than being businessmen & women. This I believe shows in their work. So basically what it boils down to is this; Decide what you are willing to spend on your wedding photography, visit only the studios that are in your wedding budget and then look at a sample wedding of the photographers work. This is the most important part. You have to like the style that you see in the photographers sample work. Look for testimonials and make sure that they promise you a backup photographer if something goes wrong. If you like what you see and the price is right then you can be assured that you are making the correct decision.

17 Great Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

The wedding date is set! Already, the excitement is building for your big day. You want awesome wedding pictures. But the challenge feels daunting. You know your family shutterbug Uncle Ned is not who you had in mind. Chances are you have never hired a photographer before. So where do you start? You know you want to interview the candidates, but what do you ask them? Here are 17 great questions to ask photographers before booking.

1. Are you full-time? When did you start shooting full-time?

The truth is most wedding photography operations are very fly by night. The photographers are doing their photography on a part-time basis with negligible photography experience. Do you believe your once-in-a-lifetime event should be on-the-job training for your photographer? I didn’t think so. A full-time photographer has already made the considerable life-long investment of their energy, time and money to create a valued and trusted service. Your wedding memories deserve your photographer’s 100 percent commitment not a 20 percent commitment.

2. Why do you like to photograph weddings?

This question helps you to gauge who your photographer is as a person and artist. Take stock of the person’s passion and energy. Does he/she seem enthusiastic or kind of flat? People who love what they do have a tendency to be very good at what they do and working with them is always more enjoyable and fun.

Also, knowing a little about what makes the person tick is a good way to feel out what kind of a personality “fit” you may share with the photographer. After all, you will be spending an entire day with your photographer, so do what you can to be sure the person you pick will be genuinely excited to be there and pleasant throughout that day.

3. Will you be the actual photographer to shoot our wedding? If not, who?

It’s not uncommon for photographers and larger studios to have a network of shooters. If you learn the person you are talking to will not be the shooter then insist you talk to the person who will and also insist you see their personal portfolio.

4. What kind of input can we have on the shots? i.e. subject matter, shotlists and ideas from other wedding shots we liked?

A formals/posed groupings worksheet is sometimes necessary when planning when and how to get that part of your wedding completed and done in time. Lots of communication is key here. When working with a good wedding photographer, it is important when capturing the unique qualities and moments of your wedding to keep it open-ended for your photographer. A good photographer cannot produce every photo you can think of, but he/she can produce photos you never dreamed of.

5. (For self-described photojournalists) How much of your candid-looking work is posing and setting-up of shots or do you get shots as they happen without posing or reenactment?

“Wedding photojournalist” has become a buzzword which has lost its specific meaning with its surge in popularity among photographers. Often, the term “photojournalist” means candid-looking when used by photographers and studios to describe their own work. Often these photographers will set up and reenact a few things during your wedding day but rely heavily upon traditional portraiture for a lot of your photos… there is nothing wrong with this approach if you are comfortable with that. However a true wedding photojournalist has the talent and ability to anticipate, observe and “see” moments as they happen without the need to interfere with the natural flow of your wedding day.

6. Are the digital files available on CD/DVD? If so, are they high resolution?

This is a popular request by couples. The discs can vary widely in price. Also ask if there are any discounts applied to the CD/DVD after a certain time has passed from the wedding. For example, the photographer may offer the discs at half-price two years after the wedding.

7. What kind of improvements do you make to the files on the CD/DVD?

It is nice to have your pictures in hand to keep safe and make whatever prints you like. Keep in mind all digital images on the disc should be toned, adjusted and worked a little to make an adequate print. You should have some guarantee of the quality of pictures on the disc.

8. Do you have a list of references with contact info?

This is a rarely asked but very effective question. A real live person who has worked with a photographer will give you valuable, objective information.

9. Who do you carry liability insurance with?

Businesses that adhere to professional practices will deliver professional service and results to you. Chances are slim you will ever have to worry about insurance coverage. But accidents can and do happen. Would you let a roofing company put a new roof on your home that did not have liability insurance? How about a mechanic working on your car? I hope not.

10. What is the delivery time for the various products you offer?

It really shouldn’t take half a year to receive an album, your proofs or any other products. Try to be timely with any input your photographer requires as far as albums, edits to help this process along.

11. With the albums, how does the design and picture selection process work? Are there any fees for changes we would like prior to the album’s production?

You should have some input into important keepsakes of your wedding like an album. Some photographers charge extra for a certain number of changes to the albums they design for you prior to the printing and binding of any album. Make sure such fees are all clearly stated. Beware of time deadlines too, they are necessary to preventing production bottlenecks.

12. When will the proofs be ready? Is there a time limit for the online proofing galleries?

If working with a digital photographer, online proofing (when you first get to see your photos online) should be completed within a couple of weeks of your event. The time period of online availability for those galleries varies among photographers. Some post them for three months, others post for a full year. Check with your photographer.

13. What happens if the photographer is ill? What about back-up equipment?

Any successful, established professional studio should have a network of shooters available for emergency help. You should have a written assurance the substitute photographer will be a competent professional.

14. Should our event last longer than scheduled? Will the photographer stay, are there extra charges?

Most weddings will not exceed a six to eight hour time commitment from your photographer. If you think you will need more time, find out how your photographer handles extra hours.

15. What associations do you belong to?

Another useful way to gauge a photographer’s qualifications and professional commitment.

16. Why should we hire you?

Again, this question is similar in spirit to Question 3. Your photographer’s answer should communicate some excitement about the privilege to shoot your wedding.

17. May we see your second photographer’s entire shoot from a wedding?

Wedding photography studios often promote themselves as two shooter “teams.” They are often a husband and wife duo. They are usually not the 2-for-1 benefit they advertise. For the most part they are maybe one decent photographer and a person who is nothing more than a camera holder with with very little qualifications or experience. Have you seen an entire take of both photographers? Insist on seeing the second photographers entire shoot.