We have always said that running a wedding photography business is not an easy task, but starting a wedding photography business is not a cakewalk either. When you first start, you may be lost and confused, especially if you don’t have a mentor in the industry. You might even find yourself second-guessing the decision you have made. But this is natural. Often, when we decide to do something new in life, we are bound to make mistakes. And this applies to when you start a new business as well. The wedding photography industry is highly competitive, and it may seem intimidating initially. However, this wedding photography business checklist might just help make some things easier for you.
A To-Do List For Starting a Wedding Photography Business
1. Get The Right Gear
Being a photographer is more than about the gear you have or the camera you use, but having professional-quality items in your arsenal goes a long way towards helping produce a professional image. Do some research on what other wedding photographers are raving about and ask yourself if it’s worth the investment for your business. Try to stay away from trendy products at first. Ask yourself, “Will investing in this product make me more money?” and if the answer is no, skip it (or rent it!).
Quality matters when it comes to camera equipment, so think about investing a little more money now on a product that will take you far into the future. Another thing worth investing in are backup drives! Having more than one external hard drive or a cloud-based system for backup will ensure that your images remain safe and allow you to avoid a data loss crisis.
2. Formulate a Business Plan
Formulating a business plan is absolutely essential to starting any business, including photography, and therefore this deserves to be in one of the top spots in your wedding photography business checklist. From your business policies and target audience to your monthly goals and the services you want to offer, having a business plan will act as your guide every step of the way. This is a great way to track your progress and stay motivated as you continue to build as well.
3. Create Your Brand Identity
Another point on the photography business checklist is branding. From your business name, logo, and business card to the story behind why you started your business, all of this is going to matter in terms of how you reach your target audience. While creating your brand identity, you also need to think about the voice you use. So, think about your tone and language – do you want to be casual and conversational, or do you want to be more formal? Besides that, this is the stage where you will decide your colors and signature font as well. In short, branding is about giving your business a personality.
4. Set Up The Legalities
Depending on the type of business you are registering your photography brand as, i.e., LLC, S Corporation, C Corporation, or Sole Proprietor, there are a set of legalities to be mindful about. Each type of business has different tax requirements as well. So spend some time researching what legal procedures you need to go through to set up your business. Generally, some of the most common legal steps involved in a photography business checklist include getting an EIN number, registering your business with your state/city, getting a business retail sales license, obtaining liability insurance, and drafting a solid contract that protects you.
5. Create a Website
A website makes it easier to connect with your audience and is a must-have in a visual industry like wedding photography. Your website should be reflective of your branding and should have an equal focus on both aesthetics and functionality. Include informative content and a voice that resonates with your brand in your website. In the ‘about me‘ section, which is a vital part of the website, talk about yourself and your journey as a wedding photographer. Additionally, your portfolio should also be a part of your website. You might also want to mention any special photography awards you have received in your journey or any publications you have been featured in. And don’t forget, your website should be fast and mobile-friendly too.
6. Price Your Packages and Services
Pricing your packages and services will help you know what it takes for you to be profitable. You may or may not want to include your packages and pricing plans on your website. If you do, be prepared for people to immediately bypass you if they think your prices are too high. If you don’t include your prices, consider including a “weddings start at” statement and then give people an easy way to contact you to find out more. Know your worth and set prices that you will be able to justify easily.
Related Read: How To Price Your Wedding Photography Packages
7. Choose Your Payment Processes
Deciding your payment processes includes but is not limited to opening a business bank account, coming up with various payment options that you can offer your couples, and setting up a salary process for your team (if you have one). Having different payment options for your clients, like bank transfers, cash, checks, Venmo, Paypal, credit cards, etc., proves to be useful when you have an increasing client base.
Different clients will prefer different modes of payment. For this part of the photography business checklist, you might also want to decide what, if any, payment plans or deposit amounts you will ask for, such as 50% before the wedding and 50% after the wedding, paying the full fee in advance, or monthly installment plans.
8. Set Up An Official Email
Once you have a website in place, you also need to have a business email address that you can use to reach out to potential clients and your couples. You will use your email to say hi, send over wedding photography packages, newsletters, and a whole host of other things, so you want to get done with this step before actually booking any clients. Rather than reaching out to them using your personal email, it’s more professional to conduct all your business conversations through your official email address.
Just like your brand name, keep your official email address simple and short too. Ideally, it should include brand name and either be yourfirstname@yourdomain or something like contact@yourdomain, hello@yourdomain, info@yourdomain or similar. Additionally, later, as the work piles up, you could also create email templates to help make communication easier and quicker.
9. Set Up Your Social Media
Having a social media marketing plan is also an important part of the photography business checklist. For your photography business, you can focus on Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest. Now, remember that growing your social media presence is a long-term plan. You don’t get followers overnight, so stay patient. Initially, invite family and friends to like your pages, and ask them to share your pages with their contacts too. Once you have a steady growth in followers, you can explore paid options to target the right audience.
Your social media can also be used as a portfolio. For Instagram, ensure that you use the relevant hashtags to attract your ideal customers. Also, make sure that you share high-quality photos and that your post resonates with your style and voice. To stay consistent, which is extremely important for social media, plan your posts a week or month in advance.
Related Read: How To Create Social Media Ads to Book More Weddings
10. Understand Your Post-Production Workflow
As a wedding photographer, you may want to consider some post-production basics, especially if you are not planning to outsource right from the start. You may have top-notch photography skills, but sometimes, your couples might ask for specific modifications to images that can only be done during post-production. In such cases, you will need to put on your wedding photography editing hat and get to work.
Post-Production workflow is not just about making modifications to the photos you have captured. Even culling, which is the process of categorizing photographs into ones that can be used and ones that serve no purpose, falls in the post-production category. This is a step that almost every wedding photographer has to go through. Understanding how to add grain, sharpen images, and other various tools in Lightroom and Photoshop will be an added benefit for you.
Make Informed Decisions, Use the Right Sources
Starting a wedding photography business could turn out to be a daunting task. But if you have a passion for photography, half the work is already done. The rest is all about making informed decisions, and this is where a photography business checklist will come in handy. If required, you could also edit this list according to your specific business needs. We hope this checklist gives you some idea of the various steps involved in setting up a photography business and proving helpful when you finally take that step.
Further Read: Professional Photo Editing: Why Outsource As A Beginner
At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you start your wedding photography business and also making it a success. We also help to lessen your post-production workflow by taking editing off your plate. This way, you get more time to set up the business and run things smoothly. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.