It’s the bread-and-butter for most professional photographers, the one job that’s always in plentiful supply and for which clients (rarely) quibble over the price — which is usually pretty high. Wedding photography isn’t just an important way of making a living as a photographer, it’s also an important way of becoming a professional photographer.
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy profession to get into.
For many photographers in fact, the first wedding often comes about by accident when a friend wants a low-cost marriage and asks them to bring their Nikon. Word spreads, offers flow in and the photographer soon has a new niche. Jeff Campbell, for example, recalled his first gig this way:
About a year ago, I took pictures of a friend’s wedding just because (1) I had my point-and-shoot camera and (2) she didn’t pay for a photographer. I couldn’t let the wedding take place without pictures to document it. She and her husband liked the pictures I took so much it gave me the motivation to get some equipment together and start photographing weddings professionally.
Carrie Moore, who turned professional just two years ago, has a similar story. She took the most of an opportunity and word spread fast enough to land her nine wedding gigs in less than 24 months.
Want to be a Wedding Photographer? Match up your Friends
That might suggest that the best way to become a wedding photographer is to know lots of single people and persuade them to marry each other. Inevitably some will want to save money, giving you the opportunity you need. You could then follow up by marketing with a website and Flickr, handing out business cards and samples, and placing ads on bulletin boards.
But there is an alternative route.
Regina Jones, a photography student who has just finished a course on wedding photography, recalls her teacher telling her that a wedding photographer must have the right equipment: a good camera; a good camera flash; lots of memory cards; and a back-up photographer for at least the first job.
That sounds like an opportunity. If you’re looking to get your feet wet and don’t want to play Cupid for your low-budget friends, you could try getting in touch with other photographers and offering yourself as a stand-in. Initially, you might have to do it for free — or at least for very little — but you’d also get the chance build a portfolio and build up your confidence.
Earn $5,500 for an Evening’s Work
You’d need that confidence when it comes to giving a quote. Regina’s teacher advised her to offer three levels of service with the cheapest starting at $3,500 and the highest reaching $5,500:
[S]hooting the engagement pic and then wedding pics and then the reception and then Photoshopping the pictures takes too much time to shoot a wedding any cheaper
she says and she might be right. Wedding photography usually means focusing on a bride who might be closer to a pile of tears than her photogenic best. It means reaching the location long before anyone else to make sure you get the still lifes and the shots of people arriving. It means being unobtrusive while still getting the close-up of the kiss, the rings and the vows. It means making commitments a year in advance. And it means constantly learning so that you get better and better and can charge more and more.
As Carrie Moore advises:
The best thing you can do is be prepared. Read, learn, pack and repack, and practice.
Get it right though and you should find that you’re getting paid for that practice too.
And tell us about your first wedding job by adding a comment. How did you get into wedding photography?
[tags] wedding photography, wedding photographer [/tags]