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.