It has often been said that being a photographer and having a wedding photography business is one of the most difficult professions to break into. This isn't entirely true - but it is true that there is no standard path to becoming a wedding photographer. Unlike other careers, such as law or medicine, where you need specific degrees and years of apprenticeship, wedding photographers learn the trade in their own unique way. With no solid career guide to follow, many new photographers quickly find themselves headed down a difficult path, burning out and wondering where it all went wrong. So if you’re preparing to enter this ever-evolving industry, you will need to learn about the ins and outs for your first year of wedding photography. In this blog, we'll lean on our experience of over ten years in the photography industry to help you map out an efficient route toward becoming a successful wedding photographer - all within one year!
How To Become A Wedding Photographer
Many new photographers believe that all it takes to become a wedding photographer is buying the best camera and calling themselves one. This could not be further from the truth! In order to be taken seriously as a wedding photography business, you need to put in the work. While it might seem like a lot, it is possible to accomplish everything in your first year of wedding photography - and we'll show you how.
1. Purchase Photography Gear
It goes without saying that in order to be a photographer, you need to buy your own camera and other basic photography gear. This includes a camera, lens, tripod, camera straps, flashes - and anything else you might need to take high-quality photos. While it is possible to rent gear, we recommend investing in your own photography equipment as it will be a long-term investment for your business.
2. Create A Website/Portfolio
This is one of the most imperative steps in becoming a wedding photographer - building a website and wedding photography portfolio. When creating your website, be sure to include an "About Me" page, a blog, and of course, a portfolio of your best work. If you're just starting out, don't worry if you don't have many (or any) professional photos to add in your portfolio. You can display practice shots or use personal photos. If you're not sure how to build a website, we recommend using WordPress or Showit. These are both user-friendly platforms that will make it easy to create a photography website.
3. Engage On Social Media
After creating a website and online portfolio, it's time to start engaging with other wedding vendors and industry professionals on social media. This is one of the best ways to get your name out there and build relationships with other creatives. We recommend creating accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest - and displaying your beautiful work. You can also create your own YouTube channel to showcase wedding videos or wedding photography tips. Whatever you do, make sure you are consistent with your content and remain active on social media. This will help you gain followers and attract ideal clients to your wedding photography business.
4. Start Assisting
One of the best ways to learn about wedding photography is by assisting other professional photographers. This will give you first-hand experience of what it's like to shoot a wedding day, as well as how to manage a business. You can find job postings for assistant photographer positions on sites like Indeed or LinkedIn. It's important to note that most positions will be unpaid during your first year of wedding photography - but the experience and portfolio-building opportunities are priceless!
Related read: How To Hire An Assistant: A Wedding Photographer’s Guide
Last but not least, it is important that you continuously practice and diversify your photography skill set. This means taking classes (online or in-person), reading books/articles, and of course - practicing as much as possible. Get familiar with your camera and all of its functions. Shoot in different low light situations, locations, and with various subjects. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel when shooting an actual wedding. Your first year of wedding photography will be a learning experience - but if you follow these steps, you will set yourself up for success!
5 Ways To Begin Working In Wedding Photography
Are you wondering what is a good way to begin working in wedding photography? Here are a few things you should do to get started for your first year of wedding photography:
1. Become A Second Shooter
Second shooters typically handle logistics, such as setting up shots and keeping track of time, while the lead photographer focuses on taking photos. Second shooters are an important part of the wedding photography team.
2. Invest In Education
Investing in education is important for learning the dynamics of photography. There are many ways to learn, such as online courses, books, and workshops. You can find plenty of resources on websites like Udemy and CreativeLive. These sites offer a variety of courses that will teach you the basics of photography, editing, and running a business.
Suggested read: SNAP Photo Festival: Education, Community, & Connection
3. Attend Photography Workshops & Events
You can find photography workshops of all levels, from beginner to advanced. We recommend attending workshops during your first year of wedding photography as it will help you gain knowledge and experience, as well as help you figure out your wedding photography style!
4. Create Relationships With Vendors
Creating vendor relationships is important for your first year of photography. Many photographers get work by being on vendor lists with wedding venues, planners, and other vendors. You can start building these relationships by reaching out to local vendors and asking to be put on their list. Make sure you have a strong portfolio and social media presence so they can see your work!
5. Styled Shots
Styled shoots are pre-planned photo shoots that are typically organized by wedding planners or vendors. They often involve a team of creatives, such as florists, hair and makeup artists, dress designers, and more. It will give you the opportunity to work with other industry professionals and create beautiful photos for your portfolio.
Related Read: A Styled Shoot Guideline For Photographers
Wedding Photography Ideas
If you’re just getting started, it’s important to find your wedding photography style and learn the basics. But once you’ve got a hang on things, it’s time to start thinking outside the box! Here are some wedding photography ideas and styles to help get your creative juices flowing:
- Wedding photojournalism/candid shots
- Outdoor weddings
- Indoor weddings
- Black and white
- Artistic wedding photography
- Natural wedding photography
- Vintage style
- Documentary wedding photography
- Portrait wedding photography
- Light and airy
- Dark and moody
- Destination wedding photography
- HDR wedding photography
Set Up Prices & Packages
If it’s your first time photographing a wedding, try shooting for free. This will give you the opportunity to build your portfolio and get experience. After gaining a good amount of experience, you can start introducing packages and setting up prices for your wedding photography business. We recommend gradually increasing your prices as you gain more experience in the industry and chalk out reasonable pricing, especially during your first time photographing a wedding.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting up prices and packages:
- The amount of experience you have
- The number of hours you’ll be shooting
- The number of photos you edit and provide
- Your geographical location
- Any additional services
- Demand of photographers in your area
Keep in mind that in terms of salary, you likely won't be able to compete with the salary of a wedding photographer who is well known and established. But don’t let that discourage you! You can offer discounts or special deals to attract clients.
Suggested Read: Pricing Your Photography: A Wedding Photographer’s Guide
Pros And Cons Of Being A Wedding Photographer
Now that you know what it takes to become a wedding photographer, let’s weigh the pros and cons of this career choice:
- You get to capture one of the most special days in a couple’s life
- Be your own boss and set your own hours
- Travel to different locations
- Meet new people
- Pay is good
- Wedding photography can be very stressful
- It’s a lot of work, often with long hours
- You have to be comfortable working in high-pressure situations
- There is a lot of competition in the industry
- It’s seasonal
Wedding photography is a growing industry, and it can be a very lucrative career choice for photographers. There are many things to think about when building your wedding photography business, such as what type of photography you want to specialize in, creating a photography portfolio, and setting your rates. We hope that this career guide has been helpful and given you some ideas on how to become a wedding photographer and get started during your first year of wedding photography.
At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you grow your wedding photography business. A part of how we do that is by lessening your post-production workload with our professional photo editing services. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.