Becoming A Wedding Photographer

Steps to building a successful wedding photography business

A landscape photographer photographed my wedding. It was a sweet gift from a kind friend of the family, and I appreciate having great photos that document my big day. But, I don’t swoon over those images. This taught me that there’s more to wedding photography than technical skill. I knew that if I wanted to build a wedding photography business with take-your-breath-away images, it would mean careful planning, practice and an eye for capturing love.

I’m going to share how I got started and what I’ve learned over the years. Because, when you’re a wedding photographer, you get just one chance to get it right. But that pressure doesn’t have to turn you off from wedding photography. It can propel you forward to creating a wedding photography business where your clients feel taken care of and you feel confident in delivering swoon-worthy images every time.

Learn the business by being a second photographer.

When I decided to begin photographing weddings, I joined a couple Facebook groups for local photographers and posted to see if anyone was interested in having a free second photographer in exchange for the experience of learning all things wedding photography. One photographer took me up on my offer. I joined her for a couple of weddings that season and learned a lot about the wedding photography business.

Work with clients that are a good fit.

Approaching wedding photography as a second shooter helped me gain experience and gave me time to think about what I wanted to offer clients and how I wanted to run my wedding photography business. One important thing I learned is that the interview process with prospective couples is extremely important.

Price your services high enough to avoid burnout.

A valuable lesson I’ve learned over the years is that shooting a large number of weddings in a short time will lead to burnout very quickly. It’s important to price your wedding photography services high enough to avoid this problem.

Things To Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

STYLE

Every photographer has their own unique style, from traditional, contemporary, documentary, fine art etc. Have a browse through a photographers website and social media to get sense of their work and if it is something you admire and reflects you. Ask yourself if you can picture yourself in these photos and if you would like to have similar photos. It is also helpful to the photographer if you mention what it is about their work you like

PERSONALITY

This is important to consider when choosing your photographer especially if you have met with a couple others. You may love a photographers work but when you meet them you may or may not click. You want to make sure you can get along and feel comfortable with your photographer as you will be spending majority of your day with them. It will make the whole experience more enjoyable.

EXPERIENCE

Make sure your photographer is experienced in photographing weddings. The quality will reflect in your photos and experience in the end. They will be able to give you helpful planning tips to make the day run smoothly and deal with unexpected hiccups in a professional manner. You want to be able to trust your photographer as they capture such an important stage in your life

AVAILABILITY

Seems obvious but when inquiring with a photographer make sure they are available on your wedding date. Depending on if your wedding date is flexible and how interested you are in a specific photographer consider working with their availability. This way you can secure getting your #1 pick and not having to settling for another. Wedding photographers book up years in advance so it is recommended to not leave booking your photographer to last minute.

REFERRALS

Word of mouth is a powerful method for finding out about who is all out there. Ask around to friends and family to see who they would recommend and ask them questions about their experience and what made them unique. Do some research and try to find sources of referrals and reviews on a photographer you are considering. It is a great starting point and put you in the right direction instead of feeling lots with so many options to pick from

Tips for Creatively Photographing a Wedding Ceremony

It’s funny how the one really important part of the wedding is often the last thing we think of when shooting weddings. Couples usually buy big prints of portrait shots, and even in albums, the ceremony isn’t the main focus.

Make it a technology-free zone.

We’ve noticed that this is becoming more and more popular during wedding ceremonies. If you haven’t considered suggesting this to your clients, ask them to issue a no-phone/no-camera policy for guests during the ceremony.

The best time to suggest this is after you feel that you’ve gained the trust of your clients, which could be right when you first meet them or after the engagement session. The only downside is that it’s all up to you to capture the important moments, and therefore, I highly recommend that you never shoot a ceremony alone.  Always have at least a second shooter.

Another reason why a no-phone-no-camera policy is a good idea is that you are actually giving all the guests a chance to enjoy and experience the ceremony instead of staring at a 5-inch screen. They’ll be able to see the real thing in “super-real-because-it-is-real” HD.

It’s probably a thankless gift, but trust me, it is a great gift for all the guests. Guests might ask you where to see the photos after the wedding, so have some cards made out with links to your online gallery or let them know that the couple send out the link to each of the guests.

Wedding Photography business

As someone who started and grew my own Wedding Photography business from a really young age I originally fell into the industry with little business knowledge, a camera and a limited skill set. I failed miserably in my first year as a Photographer, I lost more money than I care to think and racked up more debt than I’d care to mention because I was bit of a fool with my money and didn’t nail the fundamentals behind running a Photography business, or any business for that matter.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’re just about to make your first forays into the industry please don’t let what I’ve just said scare you. What I have just disclosed was not something I enjoyed telling many people, but here I am pouring my heart out on the internet, the biggest stage on the planet. I’m writing this because I want you to succeed where I had failed, and prosper where I had faltered.

Be Ready

Make sure your skills are up to scratch. I made the fatal mistake of thinking I was already a great Photographer that would find everything super easy. This was before I even had any real experience shooting a typical wedding day. Knowing how weddings run and the pressure you can be under is key here, expect the unexpected.

Age Isn’t An Excuse

Young or old, it really doesn’t matter! Many people who already know about my beginnings often ask me this question and my response is always the same, if you produce quality work, then there’s no worries. A great peripheral skill to add to your arsenal is develop some great marketing tactics to nail future work; when you throw this in with strong branding and quality photography, you can’t really go wrong. You do still have to work hard for it though, so toughen up and get to work.

Learn, Learn, Learn!

There are tonnes of useful blogs and videos out there for Wedding Photographers to discover new skills and hone existing ones. Here at Freedom Edits we work tirelessly to deliver quality content over on our blog, but you can pretty much take lessons from anyone within the industry. It’s important to be open-minded and realise that everyone has something to offer, so get out there and learn.

A wedding photographer slammed guests who ruin photos with their phones: ‘Let me do my job’

Some wedding etiquette rules are well known. Don’t upstage the bride by wearing white. Don’t RSVP “yes” and then not show up, wasting the cost of an expensive plate. Don’t give a drunk, unplanned speech.

photo she took of a bride walking down the aisle that would have been perfect if not for someone holding their phone in the way of the shot. In a Facebook post, she urged wedding guests to “let me do my job” and enjoy the ceremony instead of taking photos that they won’t use, ruining hers in the process. Her open letter has since been shared 59,000 times.

Not only did you ruin my shot, but you took this moment away from the groom, father of the bride, and the bride. What exactly do you plan on doing with that photo? Honestly. Are you going to print it out? Save it? Look at it everyday? No. You’re not. But my bride would have printed this photo, looked at it often and reminisced over this moment as her dad walked her down the aisle on her wedding day. But instead, you wanted to take a photo with your phone, blocking my view, and taking a photo that you will not use.

Guests, please stop viewing weddings you attend through a screen but instead turn OFF your phone, and enjoy the ceremony. You are important to the bride and groom, you would not be attending the wedding otherwise. So please, let me do my job, and you just sit back, relax and enjoy this once in a lifetime moment.

“My main focus of that post was to make people aware of how often we rely on our phones when the real world is right in front of us and we are missing special moments like this one,” she said. “This moment cannot be redone, as a lot of moments from the wedding day. It’s so sad and I wish people would enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime moment and see it with their eyes instead of living through a screen.”

The Process Of Hiring A Wedding Photographer

STEPS TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Create a detailed action plan

Everything from your chosen venue to the time of year will affect your wedding photographs. If you’ve got your heart set on certain shots, like couple’s portraits at sunset or a sparkler send-off photo, then you need to talk it through with your photographer.

Decide on the right style

A professional photographer distinguishes all the subtleties of shooting a wedding. They’ll know exactly when to photograph your groom as he first sees you walking down the aisle, how to achieve the perfect confetti shot, and what to do in the event of rain. A creative and flexible approach often results in the most breathtaking and brilliant wedding photographs.

Browse your photographer’s portfolio

Look through the portfolio of any photographer you’re considering. You won’t just be looking for examples of the weddings they’ve captured. You’ll also be looking at their different styles and approaches. When you find the photos that resonate with you, you’ve found your style and photographer.

Advice For Choosing A Wedding Photographer

Make sure you mesh

Look for an honest, organized, friendly photographer, because that’s who will be spending the day by your side.

Get the details for editing timeline and deliverables

After the last toast and grand exit, the photographer’s work is far from finished. Knowing what to expect in the post-production process will help balance all that excitement and anticipation to relive your best day through photos.

Understand rights to the photos

The permissions and legal intricacies around rights to wedding photos can often be blurry, so any clarification you can get before signing off will benefit both you and the photographer down the line.

Ask the overlooked questions

There are so many questions to ask, but which will yield the most telling answers? To get a good feel for your photographer, here’s one you shouldn’t skip.

Use the engagement photo session as a trial run

An initial shoot with a photographer lets you meet each other in person, gauge chemistry, and see their style firsthand.

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

Book an Engagement Shoot

Again, not an essential, but you’ll be so much more comfortable on the day if you’ve had some experience of being directed and posing beforehand. An engagement shoot is a great way to all to get to know each other and see if your personalities mesh. Your photographer will be shadowing you for a whole day so if they irritate you or are off-putting, that’s a bad sign.

Narrow Down Your Shortlist

You’ll probably meet with two or three photographers and then need to pick just one. As well as feeling comfortable, the right photographer will come down to price and package options. Consider what is included in the contract (number of hours of coverage on the day, a second shooter, prints or albums, extras like an engagement shoot), how long the proofs will take to get back and retouching options.

Arrange a Meeting

Your photographer is going to be spending a whole day with you – you need to make sure you gel! Meet them face-to-face, ask questions, go through their portfolio and see how you feel with them. Do they put you at ease? Do you feel they understand what you want? The more relaxed you are around your photographer, the more natural and at ease your photos will be.

Do They Know Your Venue?

This is by no means a deal-breaker but it always helps if your photographer has shot at your venue before. It means they’ll have experience of the best locations and know the lighting conditions.

CHOOSE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE

Fine Art

Fine art wedding photographers are actively creating art while capturing the story of your day. Every moment has the potential to turn into a photograph that could be a stand-alone piece in an art gallery.

Photojournalistic

The purpose of being a photojournalist is to unobtrusively capture the wedding day as a whole, not just the planned moments. Photojournalism got its start in newspapers, so remember that you won’t get the posed shots if you hire a true photojournalist. If you don’t like posing or staging, then hiring a photojournalist might be the perfect option for you.

Traditional

A traditional photographer appreciates the staples of a wedding and will capture them for you with art and grace. You can expect a modern take on the posed photos in your grandparents’ wedding album. Traditional wedding photographers typically focus on capturing the details that are important to you, including family photos, décor, and other images that you might have on your shot list.

Editorial

If you love the look of photography in magazines like Vogue, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar, then you might like your wedding to be photographed with a similar feel. Editorial allows photographers to shoot creatively and over the top. While you won’t find candid moments in this style of photography, everything about the editorial look is dramatic, edgy, and sexy.

Moody and Dark

A moody or VSCO-look means that your photographer edits their photos in such a way as to mimic film imagery (or they might be a hybrid shooter — shooting both film and digital). If you love bright, bold colors and want your photos to look exactly how you remember your wedding day (color-wise), then the moody style may not be for you. However, if you’re looking for an artistic, interesting perspective of your wedding day, then this style might be your new obsession.

Adventurous

Think of this style as more of a personality trait rather than a look. If you and your soon-to-be love to travel and explore and are looking for someone who will follow you wherever your wanderlust takes you, then finding a photographer who describes themselves as an adventurer is a must!

Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer

Schedule a test run.

An engagement photo shoot is always a good idea — it’s a great opportunity to get to know your photographer and begin to feel comfortable having your photo taken, especially if you or your groom are camera-shy.

Go with your gut.

Once you’ve evaluated each photographer’s work and fees, and narrowed down the options, it’s time to make your decision. Don’t forget that you’ll be spending the entire wedding day with this person, so you want to make sure you feel completely comfortable with the photographer. Do you and your fiancé genuinely like this person? Do you feel like the three of you click?

Discuss the fee.

Some photographers’ fees include everything including albums, prints, and high-resolution images (saved on a disc or thumb drive); others have a flat or hourly rate, then charge you à la carte for any pictures or albums you want. Many photographers offer a price list that details several different packages they offer at different price points. Make sure that you understand what’s included. Ask how long the photographer will spend with you (seven to nine hours is ideal) and whether there will be a second shooter, as you’ll get more detail shots this way. Lastly, also inquire about when you can expect to receive everything, from a sneak peek of images (some photographers can give you a handful within a few days) to prints (usually up to three months) to your album (up to a year).

Interview the photographers.

Most photographers will email you a link to their portfolio of images before your first meeting. Be sure the collection includes recent weddings he or she has shot from start to finish, not just a “best of” highlight reel from dozens of different weddings. This is a more accurate way to gauge the photographer’s work. Also, ask if the photographer has shot at your venue and if so, request to see those photos. During the meeting, find out who exactly will shoot on your wedding day. Some larger studios employ several photographers, and even with single-person operations it’s not unusual for the photographer to have an assistant handle shots of the groom getting ready while he focuses on the bride and bridesmaids. In all cases, request to see the work of the photographer (or photographers) who will be handling your wedding.