HOW TO BECOME A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
It’s almost 6 years since I took my first tentative steps into the world of wedding photography. When I began my business back in May 2013 I had absolutely zero intentions of photographing weddings. The plan was to concentrate on newborns, family shoots and the occasional event. The pressure of shooting weddings was something I would happily leave to other people. So imagine my surprise, just a few months later, when If found myself knocking on the door of my very first wedding clients Yvonne and Lee. I’d been recommended to them by a mutual friend. They were planning their wedding at very short notice, had a tiny budget and were happy to trust me to capture their day.
Although I didn’t realise at the time, I was woefully unprepared to be a wedding photographer. I had an amateur level camera, a kit lens and a cheap 50mm, one flash gun and absolutely no idea how to use it and literally no idea what a wedding day entailed for a wedding photographer. Let me emphasise this again – I was very, very lucky that everything went to plan, that it didn’t rain, that my couple we’re lovely and easy going. After that very first wedding I was hooked. I knew weddings were where I wanted to be and from that moment on I concentrated all my efforts into building my wedding photography business. Happily, 6 years down the line, I can look back on the almost 200 weddings I have now photographed and I know I made the right choice saying yes to that first opportunity.
It has not always been plain sailing. There’s been many bumps in the road and building a successful wedding photography business involves much more than just being able to take lovely pictures. I’ve got lots of posts about running a business and successful marketing. But this blog post concentrates on the ins and outs of first getting into wedding photography. I hope you find it useful!
So how do you become a wedding photographer?
Almost on a weekly basis I get emails from aspiring wedding photographers asking how to break into the industry. Facebook groups are filled with the same question. Like running any business there’s so many different ways of going about it. I’m a strong believer that there is enough work to go around so I’d never discourage anyone from trying to build a business in this industry. Sadly though, I also see couples who have had their wedding days ruined by inexperienced and underprepared photographers. (Can I repeat how LUCKY I was that my first few weddings went to plan!) I think you can have the best of both worlds – building a business you love without risking ruining someone’s big day. Here are some of my tips to breaking into the wedding industry
By far the most sensible route into wedding photography is to start off by shadowing and assisting a more experienced wedding photographer. No matter how talented you are as a photographer, a real life wedding day is something else! It’s so important to know how a wedding day runs, what bits are important to capture, how to keep things running to time, how to handle guests, how to work alongside the rest of the wedding suppliers, when to take the bride and groom off for pictures and so on. As you grow more and more experienced you’ll develop your own style and way of doing things, but to begin with knowing the basics is key.
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS
Weddings are a once in a lifetime (hopefully!) occasion, and a day that the bride and groom will cherish forever. Wedding photos play a large part of this, but this can also put a huge amount of pressure on the photographer – missing a shot simply isn’t an option.
While wedding photography is possibly the most stressful challenge a photographer can face, it can also be one of the most rewarding. If you’re lucky, it might even lead to a lucrative and enjoyable career.
If you’ve been asked to photograph someone’s big day, or if you’re interested in gaining some experience with an eye to making it your profession, follow these tips to make sure everything goes as smoothly and stress-free as possible.
ARE YOU SURE?
Wedding photography can be very stressful and lots of hard work. The first thing to decide is whether you actually want the responsibility. If you’ve been asked to photograph a friend’s wedding, remember that you can always say no.
Weddings are very busy and hectic, so preparing for your shoot in advance is essential. Start by getting an itinerary of the day so you know exactly where you have to be and when. Visit the venues (church, reception hall etc) before the big day so you know how to get there and how to get around.
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY TOP TIPS
GROUP PHOTOS MADE EASY
Even if you want natural wedding photography that is more documentary in style, there is still a place in the day for a small number of group photos (by small number I am talking under 10 individual setups). I am, in the main, a lover of a more natural, candid style of photography. I enjoy capturing the day as it happens in order to create beautiful storytelling images that go further than just recording who was present. I love to photograph the natural moments and the in-between bits; the happy tears from your mum as she watches her daughter say ‘I do’, your new husband burying his face in his hands as his best man tells a few stories from years past, the proud smile on your granddads face as he watches you walk down the aisle. These are the photos I love to capture and the moments that make an image into something very special. However, I also totally appreciate that this is the one day where all your family, friends and loved ones are there at the same time.
It’s the one time you might have four generations of family together, the one time all your best friends from school will be in one place. Getting a group photo of all these people can also add to the memories of the day in a different way. Group photos can be particularly important to your parents and older relatives. These are the photos that often get the most print orders and I know they will be adorning the mantlepieces of proud aunties and grandparents countrywide.
There is definitely a right and easy way of doing group photos and a wrong and more complicated way of doing them! With over 300 weddings under my belt, I can safely say that I know the right way to approach these photos. If you want easy, stress-free group photos that don’t take forever and allow you to actually enjoy the time during your reception here are my top tips to keep things running smoothly
Keep the number of shots down
I recommend no more than 10 individual combinations. Do you really need all 20 of the groups you initially considered? Are you really going to print all of them? Do you really want to spend the whole of your reception taking group photos? Prioritise which shots you really want within the formal photo time e.g. immediate family, bridal party, parents. Don’t forget, your photographer is generally there for most of the day so there will be time during the day to grab them for more spontaneous photos of other groups and people. The formal photo time should be kept for the closest and most important groups.
Allow enough time for each group shot
Not allowing enough time for the groups is the most common mistake made when working out the wedding reception timings. For groups of 6 people or less you should allow 3 minutes to round up, arrange and take the photo. For larger groups allow for 5 minutes. A photo of everyone at the wedding can easily take 10-15 minutes to sort out. It is also a good idea to allow another 5 minutes for any unexpected things, such as family members going awol! It happens…a lot!
HOW NOT TO BOOK YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
OK, why would a photographer write such a backward article? This post is for couples that want to have awesome wedding photos that honestly reflect how beautiful their wedding day was. I want to help you think through some of the common mistakes that couples make when booking their wedding photographer so that you can avoid them!!
They’re running an enticing sale
Tempting I know, you’re on a budget and everyone loves to save money (as much as Peppa Pig loves jumping in muddy puddles- or my one-year-old boy for that fact). But wedding photography is not an area you should cut back on.
Your wedding photos will be the only enduring keepsake you and your family will have to remember your wedding by. After your wedding day is over, your cake will have vanished, your flowers will have wilted and your family and friends will have returned home. How disappointed would you feel if your wedding photos failed to capture the energy and excitement of the biggest day of your life?
It would be helpful to ask yourself:
Do they invest in the best equipment (will back-up equipment ready to go)?
Will they assist you in your wedding planning to help you maximize the photography coverage and make the day stress-free for you and your guests?
Will they have the time to invest in working through your ideas with you to bring out your best?
Do they offer an engagement shoot to make you feel camera comfortable prior to your wedding day?
Will they make time to plan for every weather situation?
Do they include a pre-wedding consultation, or will they just turn up on the day after receiving your wedding schedule?
The venue recommended them
Venue recommendations are a great place to start in the search for your wedding photographer. They will have worked with so many photographers that their endorsement is important. However, you may find that their preferred suppliers work in a style that you don’t see your day being captured in.
Wedding Photography: The Complete Guide
Have you ever wanted to learn how to photograph a wedding like a pro? Or learn the best wedding photography tips & tricks from a professional photographer to capture those precious moments and memories for newlyweds?
Then, you need to check out this iPhotography™ guide. It’s packed with wedding photography tips and ideas on how to take stunning photos on the big day and avoid the common mistakes that every new photographer makes.
Wedding photography is one of the most popular ways of turning your hobby into a career. It’s an ideal place to make money from your photography and a fantastic opportunity to get noticed in the local community. But all too often amateurs and semi-pros overlook the essentials when either preparing their photography equipment, planning their poses or composing their shots, resulting in poor wedding photographs
Now we understand that everyone has a different approach to photography, and weddings are no different. Whether you prefer formal wedding poses or the reportage side then this guide will help you. We’ll look at the best techniques, ideal wedding photography lighting, along with hidden tricks and little-known tips that professional photographers use when directing the Bride, Groom and even the whole wedding party!
Without a wedding photography checklist, you will inevitably miss something out of your shoot. This could be fatal to the start of promising wedding photography career. A Bride and Groom won’t be pleased to know you forgot to take pictures of them cutting the cake or the Mother of the Bride’s decadent hat!
Put these questions on your checklist
Do they want lots of posed formal wedding photographs?
Or do they prefer a natural and candid approach?
What parts of the day do they want you to cover? Bridal preparation, Ceremony, Meal, Speeches, Cake cutting, Party/Disco etc.,
What’s the starting time for these parts? (expect there to be delays – you’ll find no wedding runs on time!)
Are there any special activities or surprises planned that guests don’t know about?
How many guests will be present?
Is there anyone who they don’t want photographed? (Sounds silly, but you’ll be surprised how often an unwanted Aunty or vaguely known Cousin is put to the back of the shots)
Do they want a big group shot of everyone together?
What time will the wedding finish?