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.

The Top 10 Things Couples Look For In A Wedding Photographer

So you are getting married and there are so many things to do. You have the hall, your dress, flowers, invitations and now it comes time to hire your photographer.

After doing some research on the web and “hanging out” on different wedding sites I have found that most brides are looking for more or less the same things. What follows is sort of a wish list of things couples want from their wedding photographer.

10. Negatives/Digital Files – One thing that couples want these days is the opportunity to purchase or have included in their package the option to buy the negatives or (in the case of digital) the digital files. Many couples feel that they should be able to make as many re-prints as they would like, whenever they want. While many photographers do offer their negatives, many do not and feel that the labs that they use will be able to give a higher quality print rather than just taking a negative to the local drug store for printing. In addition, many photographers will sell their negatives after a certain amount of time, for example a year after your wedding date.

9. Black and White – Everything old is new again. Almost all couples want a mixture of color and black and white. Black and white gives that photojournalistic look to a photograph as well as a fine art look. If your photographer is shooting digital, any photograph can be converted to black and white. If your photographer is shooting film then most likely they will be shooting with B&W and color film separately.

8. Unlimited Time – When hiring a photographer couple like to have the security of someone who will be with them to capture all of the wedding moments. Having unlimited time can give you the peace of mind to know that those moments will be captured.

7. Experience – Does your photographer have the necessary experience to handle the stresses of wedding photography? There are many things going on at once during a wedding. The experienced photographer knows how to bring everything together and in an orderly fashion.

6. Price – This can vary a lot and price was not the main criteria in choosing a photographer. Prices can range from several hundred dollars to over $10,000. At the low end are usually people who do wedding photography part time. In wedding photography, you usually get what you pay for. As you go up in price, so does the “art of wedding photography”.

5. Professional – Being a professional means many different things to different people. Those photographers who didn’t respond in a timely manner and/or who were rude (and amazingly, some are) were axed off the potential list immediately. Being professional also meant that couples wanted to know the photographers “style and philosophy”. Things that also bothered couple: rudeness, disorganization, insulting comments about other brides or photographers and other unprofessional comments.

4. Flexibility – Brides put flexibility high on their list. To many flexibility is key. They said, packages are nice, but a photographer that refuses to be flexible, is not going to get very far with brides. Brides also commented that photographers get caught up in the OLD way of doing things, and never change with the times. Again, this relates to being flexible.

3. Style/Approach – Today couples are looking for something different – artsy photojournalism, not the same cheesy photos. Brides are drawn to photographers who have developed their own unique (but consistent) artistic style/approach. Details are very important to brides. They appreciate a photographer who focuses on details.

2. Personality – What can you really say about this. It is obvious. When you spend upwards of 10 hours with someone on an important day like your wedding you had better clique. Brides often said that they “just knew” when they met their photographer that they were right for each other.

1. Listen – And the number thing that kept on coming up was that brides wanted from their photographer was that they “LISTEN”.
This means that a photographer really heard what a bride said before they stated speaking about the next topic. This is really important because it is the ability to understand what a client wants that will make a photographer really deliver what a bride was expecting.

So there you have the top ten. So, when you go shopping for a photographer see how he/she measures up in each of the categories listed here. Remember, your wedding is a once in a lifetime event. Take your time, enjoy the process and you will find the perfect photographer for you.

A Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

For some time now, I’ve had a suspicion that all is not well in the Wedding Photography industry. I’m a wedding photographer and I know all the tricks of “the business”. I’ve also been on the other side of the business helping friends and family choose a photographer for their wedding (I prefer to party at my friend’s weddings!)

So, with some suspicions, I surveyed a lot of married people and was astonished to find that 71 % of people said they were not happy with their wedding photographer. This was much higher than I was expecting. Furthermore, an astonishing 85% of respondents said they should have hired a better photographer and would do so if they had their time again.

Read that again, 85% of people were so disappointed in their photos they believe they should have hired a better photographer.

Clearly, something is not right in our industry.

I think there are a number of issues, I think its partly bad photographers, partly good photographers not handling expectations well, and partly couples who aren’t, and have no reason to be, experts at understanding this industry.

So here’s a little guide, by a wedding photographer, on how to choose the right wedding photographer. Note there are a million other things to consider but these are what I think are the essentials, if you get these right you will be less likely to be disappointed.

1. Style

Style is in many respects the easy thing to get right. You’ve looked online, read magazines, started a Pinterest account so you now know that you either want a photojournalist style, an editorial style, a retro style. Most photographers will have one style that they stick with so choosing a photographer who shoots the style you want is as simple as looking at the style they normally shoot in.

2. Quality

The second, and in many ways most important, decision you need to make is about the quality of photographer you want. I’m not talking about style here (documentary, photojournalism etc), or cost, I’m talking about the quality of the photographer. How many great photos do they take across the whole day.

Here’s an attempt to capture the range of possible photographers for your wedding:

# 1. Uncle Tom. He’s always loved taking ‘snaps’.
# 2. Jane’s cousin Pete. He’s a keen amateur who might have even studied photography once.
# 3. A “professional wedding photographer”, found online.
# 4. A “professional wedding photographer”, found online.

Wait, aren’t #3 and #4 the same? No, no, and no! I’d say 50-80% of “professional wedding photographers” are nothing more than con-men and women who think buying an expensive camera makes them professional. Buying a scalpel does not make you a surgeon. Becoming a #4 professional wedding photographer takes years of dedication to photography. It takes commitment and passion and a constant desire to improve your art.

So how can you tell the difference between #3 and #4 professionals?

#3 will bambooz you with a flashy website full of good images from different weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They will offer you champagne and expensive brochures.

#4 will bambooz you with a flashy website full of great images from weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They will offer you champagne and expensive brochures.

Notice the difference? There’s a key difference there. #3 will show you images from different weddings. #4 will show you images (especially if you ask) from ONE wedding. That’s the key difference. A #4 photographer should be able to get good or great quality images across the whole day, not just one of two good images for the entire day.

At Mr & Mrs Wedding Photography our website is designed to showcase three individual weddings, one from a beach, one in a church, and another a destination wedding. We hope this gives our potential clients a feel for the quality across the entire day that they can expect to receive.

So, my #1 tip in choosing the right photographer for your wedding is insist on seeing images from one wedding. That will give you a feel for how many good quality images you are likely to see after your wedding.

Which leads me to expectations.

3. Expectations

The first thing to know is that photographers, even true professionals with years of experience, are not superhuman, they will not get award-winning, magazine quality images of every single aspect of your day from 8am until midnight. It just doesn’t happen. If you are expecting stunning images from sunrise to sunrise, you will be disappointed.

Most #4 photographers will give you consistently good images across the entire day and this is what you should be aiming for. There should definitely be some great images in there, the sort you will be proud to hang up on your wall.

I know of two immensely expensive US based wedding photographers. Both are at the top of their game, are in huge demand, and both charge over US$25,000 for their basic packages. I’ve seen a full set of images from a single wedding and I can guarantee you, if you paid that much money and expected every single image to be a prize-winning image, you would be really disappointed. Some images are truly magnificent, most are really good, a large number are just ‘snaps’.

If you end up with 5-10 magnificent images, 30-90 or so really good photos, and the rest nice snaps, then you should be happy.

4. Cheap

Cheap is always cheap. Repeat after me: cheap is always cheap. If you pick a photographer because they are cheap you can expect the quality of your images to plummet. This might be all you can afford/budget for but don’t expect miracles and don’t expect to be anything but disappointed (particularly if you hope to share the images with your kids and grandkids some day).

Do keep in mind though that your wedding is a once in a lifetime event (usually) and it might seem like a good idea to skimp on photography but really after the day is finished, apart from memories, all you have left is the photos. Imagine your grandchildren sitting down to look at your wedding album and seeing cheap photos. Is that worth it?

5. A recommendation from a friend

If you’ve seen you’re friends wedding photos (all of them) and like them then this might be a good way to go. However keep in mind a few things. 1) Did you see all the photos? 2) How long ago did your friend get married (has the photographer aged in energy or style) 3) Ask your friend what the worst thing about the experience with that photographer was – if they suggest irrelevant things like they didn’t like the package the images came in, then that’s probably fine, if the photographer missed a key photo, that’s not fine.

Don’t take a recommendation as proof that the photographer is everything you want for your wedding, refer back to points 1-4.

Conclusion…

Take these points as a starting point. There is way to find the right photographer for your wedding and I hope this helps in some way.