Wedding Photography may sound to be a easy and profitable career for a newcomer to photography, but the truth is, its not that easy as people might think, there is a lot of skill and research involved in securing each individual wedding, remember this is an important and if not the most important day of peoples life, and as a photographer you can’t take it lightly you have to get it right, Wedding Photographers have a huge responsibility in capturing the right wedding pictures / photos.
Important Skills as a Wedding Photographer:
They say communication is key, and as a Wedding Photographer it is important to sit down with the client to get there view, Ideas and to think ahead about the pictures to be captured, and the key people who are important to be captured at certain moments during the wedding day. Photographers should always have there portfolio of work and style available to show there client to set expectations of what can be achieved as a guidance and therefore getting the right agreement in place up front.
To take lead and be able to coordinate people during the wedding especially when the family photos are taken is a skill in it self, as people are often in the festive spirit and may often have had a drink or two…and dealing with many people at once can be quite chaotic.
Wedding Photographers must be prepared with the right equipment and should research the locations where the wedding will take place either by visiting the location beforehand if possible and scoping out the best areas for the main photos and optional areas in case of unexpectedly weather changes.
Preparation is also Key, having thought of ever eventuality and failure of equipment, backing up the images during the day and having enough batteries charged, memory cards blank, lighting equipment, spare cameras, etc… Knowing routes and time to get from one places to another, Having an itinerary of the full day to know what’s happening next.
The fundamental Skills of photography makes a wedding photographer, being able to see the the images before you take it, capturing the important details during the day and knowing how to get the best images out of your equipment, To go unnoticed to capture the intimate moments and be able bond with people to capture emotions etc…Timing is everything so a wedding photographer has to be on there toes all through the day to capture those memories,
If you like this Video of Michael Graham, he got much more information on how to shoot weddings on YouTube under this link name: DexKnowsWeddings.
Starting out as a Wedding Photographer
If you are interested in starting out as a Wedding Photographer. Do your research and find out what is expected of you, starter find books on the subject and look at other wedding photographers work, The best experience would be assisting a wedding photographer on jobs, it is important to understand the basic skills needed even if you have years of experience in a different field of photography, you will be surprised how much preparation is required and as a inexperienced wedding photographer it could define your failure or success for the rest of your career, The focus on the smallest detail, may it be the flowers, the clothes, people etc…you need to be able to see this, and personally I believe you need to be passionate about Wedding photography or you will never be able to stand out. You need to be able to deal with tension, tight schedules, and most of all have people skills, and even if you have experience in portrait, fine art, fashion, studio or an controlled photography environment, being a wedding photographer will take you out of your comfort and keep you on your toes for constant unexpected events, changes and dealing with large amount of people. But as you know a Wedding Photographer has to start somewhere, and there will always be a “First Wedding” where you will be confronted with key elements to succeed and be able to take the unpredictable in your stride. Hopefully the information here will encourage you to research and put in a bit of work to get you on your way to producing beautiful wedding memories.
- Make sure you do your research, and this can’t be stressed enough.
- Be and get connected beforehand with as many people as possible involved with the wedding: the venue, wedding coordinator, the best man and the bride’s personal attendant etc… so they are aware of you and schedule so you can arrange working along side to capture the perfect images.
- Arrange a pre-wedding meeting with the wedding couple so you can determine the wedding style and arranging bride portraits, bride and bridesmaids portraits, family shoots etc… If you aren’t experienced shooting weddings, plan for extra time so you won’t be rushed or distracted by the time pressures.
- Make sure that you have determined how the pictures are going to turn out with the wedding couple: Are they traditionalists? Are they contemporary? Do they want color or black and white? etc…so they have a clear picture of what they are getting at the end of the day, and remember they are the ones who are going to pay you for your service and may bring you more business through word of mouth.
- If you can get an assistance to help you out managing large group photos, schedules, lighting, holding reflectors, helping with carrying equipment, backing up images etc…It will take huge loads of you and if you look at ease towards the people you are photographing you are creating the right environment to get the best pictures.
- Make a list of the pictures you need to capture and the schedule of the entire day: from the bride and groom getting ready for the big day, the church, the kiss, reception, cutting of the cake etc…so you within the hectic day know what is going on and you are able to be ahead of the game.
- Make sure you have transport and access to the location and have enough time before moments happen: access where the bride getting ready with hair and make up, bride gets out of the car, getting the best spot in the church, catching the Bride throw the Bouquet etc…
- Most of all keep your game face, if you are in a great mood it will reflect and a smile will
put people at ease in-front of the camera and therefore getting precisely the images you want.
If it may interest you? there is a section on here with Wedding Videos and a Photographers Directory with many interesting wedding photographers from all over the world. I have added a link (right) for the UK Directory, but do have a look at the Photographers Directory for your area.
If you have enjoyed what you have read so far and you still think Wedding Photography is for you, lets go into depth in a comprehensive way in how to go about making money from Weddings.
Making Money From Wedding Photography
‘Wedding Photography is an easy way to make a fortune’ right? Wrong. Unfortunately this is the all too common, nonchalant misconception that many photographers have, and it often results at best in a business that struggles to get off the ground, and at worst some very unhappy clients and disastrous wedding photographs. We’re not saying that wedding photography isn’t profitable, it certainly can be, or that it’s extremely difficult. The fact is though that it’s not -contrary to popular belief – something that just anybody with a half-decent DSLR and a couple of lenses can do well. In this major section, we’ll be equipping you with everything you need to know about wedding photography, from how to get started, securing clients and conducting wedding shoots, to post production, workflow and album design. All that we hope is that by the end of it if you still want to give weddings a go you approach it with the right conscientious attitude and the respect that it and your clients deserve. Few great wedding photographers will say they do it just for the money, as frankly the money’s not enough to relieve the pressure of knowing you only have one shot at capturing a couple’s special day. Wedding photography is a passion, a huge responsibility and commitment, though it’s also very rewarding. There’s such satisfaction in seeing a couple overjoyed with their pictures, and knowing that they’ll be treasuring your work for a lifetime. It gives people so much pleasure, which is probably one reason why so many photographers don’t mind doing weddings for free – at least initially.
How to Finding your footing
As the market is busting at the seams with wedding photographers, you have to be prepared to compete for clients. Talent’s not enough in this market: a lot of brilliant photographers are struggling to make ends meet while average photographers flourish, and this is because too often photographers lack the essential business skills to market themselves properly. ”You’ve got to start off in a market that you’re comfortable in, it’s important that you don’t start targeting high-end clients and big budget weddings before you’re ready for it. It only takes one mess-up and word will get around.” Also, your charges have to be right for what you’re delivering, so if you’re charging a lot of money the customer experience has to reflect this, from the way you answer the phone and the brochures you send out. to the coffee you serve clients when you meet. It also determines your market, which in turns determines your brand and how much you need to invest in it. Your brand should reflect you. your style of photography and your approach to weddings and business the way you want others to see it. You don’t need to invest money in professional branding at first, in fact it’s probably worth avoiding it for the first year while your business evolves, but if you come to make the business a full-time enterprise it’s worth considering. It’s important to make sure your brand is consistently and accurately represented throughout everything you do and your marketing material, as this is what helps you look like a professional, even if you’re a weekend wedding photographer. If you’re going to spend money on anything though, you should look to invest in a decent website because as a social photographer, this is your shop window. Clients will make a decision whether to contact you within seconds based on how professional, sleek and functional your website is and how your online portfolio looks. Bland template websites simply won’t cut it in this industry. The website should reflect your brand and style as a photographer, but you don’t need to invest in an expensive custom website. Companies like Blu Domain. Clikpic. Amazing Internet and Freebird all offer design-orientated templates or affordable bespoke websites specifically for photographers so they’re polished and professional. Many of the websites also feature the all -important blogs. Twitter and Facebook links so that you can keep your clients and future clients updated with all your latest photographic work, personal and professional, adding to your authenticity and search engine ranking, Networking with local suppliers like bridal stores, florists, wedding planners and venues are crucial for getting your business off the ground and to build your basis of referrals. You will need support, so join your local networking group to meet variety of small business owners, as you never know where it could lead and build up relationships with other local photographers. Networking with competition can prove to be a lifeline. Photographers are very supportive of one another and having contacts ready to support you when you need it means that if you ever have technical questions about kit, technique or business, you have like-minded people to bounce ideas off, and who can bail you out of a wedding if you fall sick or can’t make it on the day. Getting on the preferred supplier list at wedding venues is also a superb way to draw in clients as they often make a decision based on a recommendation. First of all research the venues that you want to work with. Think about the type of clients they attract and whether it’s the same client that you want to draw in. What types of weddings does the venue specialize in? Does it have a look like a lake, a grand, charismatic interior or extensive grounds? How much does their typical customer pay to be married there? And be sure to suss out the standard and style of photographers they already recommend to see where you fit in - for instance if they only have traditional photographers and your work’s more contemporary that might be the open door you need. Before you approach whoever is the gatekeeper, have your objectives clear. How many weddings a year would you like to do at this venue, what can you offer them – for instance are you willing to do promotional pictures to replace their tired marketing images and put a link to the venue on your website? Send them a formal letter with a contact sheet of your images, a business card and brochure then follow up with a phone call a couple of days later to set up a time to meet. Go equipped with branded business cards, brochures and your digital and soft-backed portfolio that sell your best images, so you can prove to them that your business fits with their brand and core values. If you learn to sell yourself and your services, always act the professional even if you only shoot the occasional wedding and be diligent with your networking, there’s no reason why you can’t develop a successful business on whatever scale suits your situation.
How much should you charge?
When taking the first steps into a creative” market that’s highly competitive and unregulated, like wedding photography, one of the most difficult tasks is to put a monetary value on your service. Most photographers start at a low price because they have low confidence, then as their confidence grows with experience they charge a little bit more. But there are others who ooze confidence but have no experience and enter the market charging £1.500- £2,000 straight away. Knowing the value of your service and having the confidence to stand by your prices should be something you tackle early on. You can probably increase your prices by 20% a year without alienating your referrals, who are pre-sold on what you charged for your last wedding. But it could take years to get to a level where you can charge the ‘going rate’ that you deserve, which right now is around £1.500. And if you decide to drastically increase your prices overnight, you could be saying goodbye to all the hard work you’ve done building up a referral base in that market. You’re actually much better off doing weddings for free with the purpose of building a portfolio and confidence then, when you’re ready, start charging what you should be. But remember to tell those clients who you’re shooting for free how much you would normally charge, that way if a friend asks them how much you were they know to say the right amount. It’s true that with a higher price tag comes higher expectations and this be daunting for new wedding photographers. But by charging professional prices you appear more professional and probably attract more clients. Finding your price bracket comes down to a lot of variables: you need to be competitive so that you’re not undercutting or pricing yourself out of the local market and figure out how much you need to earn to be profitable – otherwise what’s the point? There are lots of liabilities with weddings, so you need to factor in the cost of insurance as well as the wear and tear on kit, mileage, gear hire, an assistant, marketing; everything that it takes to run your business. Plus! and perhaps most importantly, your time and talent. One way of pricing this is by giving yourself an hourly rate, and not just for the wedding day but for the time it takes for post- production and album design too. The average is around £50 an hour. The cost of an album can be as much as £600, depending on who you use, which you’ve also got to mark-up if you want to make a profit. So some photographers offer this as an optional extra and instead give the images on disk. While there are many arguments fore and against this, it really depends on how precious you are about your images and whether you want to risk clients editing the pictures and your work being misrepresented, or miss out on extra income from reprints. You could put a clause in your contract to protect your images but you still won’t have control over the print quality. Alternatively, you could offer clients a free CD with the images from the album or at an extra cost. It really depends on how you want to conduct your business and the value for money you wish to offer clients.
What should you do if a friend asks you to shoot their wedding?
- Manage their expectations Ask them to show you images that they like and be honest with yourself, and them, as to whether you can produce pictures of a similar quality. If you don’t feel you’re up to the task, tell them but offer to be a second photographer on the day. This way you don’t take the risk, they get extra images for free and you have a chance to gain some experience and pictures for your portfolio.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare Arrange a pre-wedding shoot with the couple so you both feel comfortable on the day knowing what to expect from one another. Scout out the wedding and reception venue in advance for backgrounds and natural light.
- Be equipped Read our section on wedding kit to find out what gear you need to rent or buy for your experience level.
- Get a shot list Have them write you a list of ’essential’ pictures and use it as a reference on the day. There’s nothing worse than realising too late that you didn’t get a picture of the happy couple with grandma or a full-length picture of the bride in her dress.
- Learn about lighting Most wedding photographers rely on natural light for their shots, avoiding direct sunlight for the risk of bleaching details in the dress, ruining pictures with deep shadows and squinting subjects. So, learning how to control and diffuse natural light is essential. In case you have to use direct sunlight, or there’s a lack of natural light, you also need to know how to use fill-in, bounce or off-camera flash.
- Enlist help Ask a friend, your partner, or a member of the wedding party (ideally an usher or best man) to help to organize the groups and to hold reflectors when needed. Having someone there to do crowd control is also an asset, this way when you’re photographing the bride and groom there isn’t a hoard of guest paparazzi distracting them from looking at your camera.
- Play it safe Set your camera to Raw and aperture-priority mode. You’ll have greater flexibility and scope for recovery later in post-production if you get the exposure slightly wrong than if you were to use JPEG. Working in a fully- or semi-automatic mode, also enables you to focus on interacting with guests and capturing spontaneous moments that you’ll miss fiddling with settings.
- Be directive but not disruptive As the photographer, it’s your responsibility to get beautiful pictures that capture the day without interfering. For most of the day the photographer should be a fly on the wall, rarely seen or heard, so set your camera to Quiet mode if you can and draw out the inner photojournalist. The more guests are aware of you. the less likely you’ll capture spontaneous moments and natural expressions. But when it comes to the couple’s and group shoots, it’s your time to take control. Don’t be afraid to be bossy but also keep the atmosphere light and relaxed so you can fire through the shots while keeping everyone’s spirits high.
- Business cards Most new work comes from word of mouth and referrals, so make sure you go equipped with business cards.
How to build your wedding portfolio
Potential clients judge your worth on the quality of your photography so a decent portfolio is crucial. We explore the right and wrong ways to create and showcase your portfolio to maximize sales.
Starting out as a wedding photographer can be a bit of a chicken and egg dilemma: to get paying clients you need a strong portfolio but to get the portfolio, you need the clients. This is probably why most new wedding photographers start out shooting the weddings of friends or family for free, or as a second shooter. It’s a great way to build a portfolio but it doesn’t always give you a chance to explore and develop your style or creativity as there’s limited time at a wedding to experiment, and as a second shooter you’re often restricted by what the main photographer wants. Setting up a mock wedding shoot, also known as a test shoot, on the other hand can be a really effective means of building a portfolio that you think presents your talents and style in the best light to potential clients. It also gives you the opportunity to perfect your photography and lighting skills, as well as try out new techniques that you can later use at an actual wedding. As you’re in control of the shoot, you can work slower and be more methodical about taking the shots perfectly than you would at an actual wedding, where you’re governed by the day’s schedule and capturing the couple’s story. It’s also far easier to push your boundaries and to trial-and-error your creativity when you don’t have paying clients in front of you or looking over your shoulder, as you don’t have to worry about looking incompetent or unprofessional. Keeping your portfolio fresh and current is really important for staying ahead of the competition, as is pushing your photography skills, so test shoots are good practice for any photographer no matter what level they’re at or however long they’ve been a wedding photographer for. Updating your portfolio with images that reflect the current wedding trends, as well as try out new creative ideas. ”Whenever you do a test shoot, it’s worth doing them well and quite often it’s good to get other people involved as part of a networking exercise too. The sky’s the limit with what you can do and get from these types of shoots. If there’s a venue’s’ recommended supplier’ list, for instance, that you want to be on but you’ve yet to shoot any weddings there.
Approaching the management to ask if you can use the grounds for the test shoot in exchange for some of the images of the venue is a good way in.” claims Stuart. Do the same for a hair stylist, make-up artist, attractive friends who you can use as models, and a local bridal store for a dress loan, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a test shoot. As everybody will be giving their time and services for free, make sure you reciprocate with images of their contributions, for instance close-ups of the flowers and dress, or beautiful portraits for the model and make-up artist. It’s a really good opportunity to build relationships with local suppliers, get your images on other business’s websites and it gives you something to blog about as well, which can be really beneficial according to Stuart. ”A blog is a really useful marketing tool, for instance, if someone’s getting married at a particular venue and you’ve just blogged about a test shoot you’ve just taken there, there’s a good chance that when they type it in that the search engines will pick it up.” Test shoots are an opportunity to use unusual locations or places you wouldn’t be able to get to on a wedding day like National Trust properties, train stations, ruins or the coast. You can also use light and shoot at times of the day you might not normally have access to. for instance there’s gorgeous light at 5am but you’d struggle to persuade a bride to get out of bed that early for pictures unless you were paying her! If you want to use an exclusive venue and they won’t let you do a shoot there for free, you might want to consider paying for it and look at it as an investment. Normally it can cost between £50 and £200. depending on how much of the venue you want to use and how long you need it for. But send them postcards of the images you shot there and you might be lucky to get on their list of preferred photographers. If that happens, the £200 investment is likely to be returned tenfold.
It is recommended to do a recce of the location before the shoot to find the best spots for natural light and to plan where you need to be at different times of day to get the best light. Introducing props into the shoot too can help give images an editorial edge and make them look more stylized. It also means you can get more mileage out of the images as you can post them on blogs like Rock n Roll Bride. Style Me Pretty and Rock My Wedding, or submit them to magazines for marketing and PR material. Whether you arrange the shoot for a day or a couple of hours, you can do one of two things: go with the purpose to get one or two ‘wow’ shots or to get a bank of good images. It’s always good to go armed with some tear sheets from magazines or download pictures on to your memory card so you have an idea of what you want to achieve or try. There’s only so much you can do. so it helps to have visuals to make the most of your time and art-direct the shoot Although you don’t want to copy the images, they’re your inspiration and can be helpful for giving guidance to the models However, even though you should plan the shoot, leave room for spontaneity as you never know what might happen and it’s a good opportunity to learn to be reactive as well as proactive, like you’d have to be at an actual wedding You need to be able to get the best from any situation and take stunning impromptu pictures. Your style of photography is partly what clinches you the client, which is why it’s so important to truthfully represent yourself through your portfolio. Don’t only use your test shoots as a chance to try something completely new and off the wall, use it to build a base of images. Staging glamorous or edgy shoots in incredible locations look amazing and can be invaluable for marketing, but make sure you also include realistic scenarios that couples can see themselves in You might even want to consider doing a test shoot in the most diabolical weather, with a less photogenic model and a bland wedding venue; you won’t use it as marketing material but it’s reassuring to show prospective clients that you can make the best of even the worst situation and still take stunning pictures. Use your first few test shoots as a chance to figure out your style and what you want to offer your clients. More traditional photographers focus on the classic poses and group shots, others opt for a relaxed fly-on-the-wall approach and some very dramatic stylized shots, often with heavy use of flash. If you’re more of a traditionalist, be aware that as the world of wedding photography changes, this cookie-cutter approach is becoming less popular. Couples want creative wedding photography, often comprising a balance of the latter two styles; a documentary approach with photographs of the two of them interacting and being spontaneous combined with some interesting and creative portraiture. You may still need to I do the odd classic portrait and formal shots, however, to appease the traditionalists in the family. If you don’t know what style of wedding photography you’d like to explore, research other wedding photographers online for inspiration or flick through bridal magazines, blogs and websites, then practice various set-ups and poses until you find your groove and what you’re most comfortable doing. Find your strengths and develop them, but don’t neglect your weaknesses too as most weddings require a little bit of everything. Getting reportage shots in your portfolio can be a little tricky on a test shoot but not impossible. Obviously there will be a lack of guests, but try to capture pictures of the I couple looking at each other or off camera, laughing together in between staged shots, or from a viewpoint that makes it look as if you’re observing them from a distance, as this can create candid-looking images. It’s also worth asking a local photographer if you could be a second shooter or approach a friend who’s getting married to see if you can take some shots on the day too: as you won’t be the main photographer your images will naturally look voyeuristic. Or. if you’re a little bolder, drop in on a registry office armed with some business cards and catch the brides and grooms and their guests as they congregate outside You’ll need to get permission from anyone you photograph though if you want to use images of them in your portfolio or for marketing material Even if you opt against a test shoot, it’s crucial to challenge your photography so you keep developing new skills. Learning how to use flash will definitely set you apart from the bride’s uncle, giving you wedding, but keep fresh and you’ll keep about your work.
- Sell, sell, sell Be bold. Your portfolio is your strongest promotional tool and it should be treated as so. Show it off to everybody and anybody to generate buzz around your work. Have your portfolio accessible online via your website, but also consider getting a selection of your signature images printed in a portfolio book to show clients exactly what type of wedding photographer you are and the standard they can expect. You can order a beautiful portfolio from the likes of Blurb. Sim2000. Loxley Colour and Everleaf.
To Be continued: more to come
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