There’s something unique about being a wedding photographer. It’s a job that filled with joyful moments and happiness. A wedding photographer plays a significant part in the best day of someone’s life. Plus, you can make a fair amount of cash capturing those joyful moments. Could this be a career for you? Well, it’s certainly an excellent idea, but there are certain things you need to know before you take the plunge.
Before you get started on your journey as a professional wedding photographer, here are the top 10 things you must know:
#1. It all starts with the right set of equipment
It’s pointless becoming a wedding photographer if you don’t know anything about your gear. Photographers rely on their equipment as birds rely on their wings – it’s an absolute necessity!
As a result, you can’t get away with just buying any old cameras and pointing them at the bride and groom. You must understand what equipment works best in wedding formats, and which settings you should alter to get the best shots.
Here is are some of the pieces of gear to research:
- Cameras (main and 1 spare)
- Medium zoom lens like the 24-70 f/2.8 lens
- A telephoto lens like the 70-200mm
- A wide-angle lens and pime lens
- External flash (speedlight)
- Memory card and batteries
- Tripod and light stand
- Flash diffuser
- Camera bag
Those are just the basic set that I go for when shooting weddings. Don’t forget about lighting from preparation to receptions. Lighting can make or break a photo shoot and when it comes to weddings, light is part of the art and its as important as your gears.
#2. Get ready for a long and tiring day
You tend to forget how long a wedding actually is. When someone hires you to take photos of their marriage, they usually want you there for the whole shebang.
This means you’re there bright and early to take photos during the ceremony – which can last a fair few hours. Not to mention any travel time to the venue; you might need to be up at the crack of dawn in some cases!
After you’ve already been hard at work for a few hours, the wedding party disbands as everyone makes their way to the reception venue. Here, they’ll eat food and party way into the night. As such, you could be working until close to midnight.
It’s physically and mentally draining, so make sure you’re prepared for this. Get in a good night’s sleep the night before, and have all your equipment packed and ready. Bring a few bottles of water and some snacks with you as well – this will keep you energized and awake!
Remember to stay creative when you regularly shoot your weddings, the last things you want is depleting your creative spark. Keep yourself motivated by looking into some inspiration wedding photos.
#3. Find out who specifically hired you for the wedding
Being a wedding photographer means there are loads of people that could’ve hired you. The bride may be the one that wants you there, or it could be one of the parents. Either way, you need to know who your boss is on this big day.
Why? Because it dictates what you’ll do and how you’ll do it. Talk to them, so you understand what they want from you and the type of photos they’re hoping to see. If you don’t know who hired you, then you don’t know how to please them!
I find it more easy to start an interview-style conversations with the couples to understand their visions of that big day. Every wedding has a story behind, perhaps they have a specific idea or a place that special to them. Find those stories and use them as a guide for a meaningful and thoughtful wedding photoshoot.
#4. It’s all about building relationships
Wedding photographers will either be hired directly by the couples or by wedding planners. Therefore, it can be confusing about who you really work for! You don’t technically work for the planner, but you still need to keep their needs in mind.
Basically, you need to ensure that you carry out such a high standard of work that it reflects positively on them. They can showcase your images on their website, which makes them look like exceptional wedding planners with really good vendors. As a result, their reputation grows, which also means your reputation grows.
By building a good relationship with them, they will start to refer you to other people, which helps grow your business!
In some cases, the wedding photographer wear the same hat as the wedding planner, where you will be involved in a lot of stuff besides shooting the wedding day. Don’t let that demotivate you. Remember that you are building a relationship with everyone involved and the main goal is to satisfy the couple.
By the end of the day, and after they see that beautiful wedding album, they will write a testimonial that can win you more and more deals.
#5. You need to be different
Why is someone going to hire you if your photos are identical to other wedding photographers out there? So, you have to make yourself stand out, which comes in the form of unique photography.
Practice makes perfect; try taking snaps at home and developing a style of wedding photography that’s different to what’s already out there. This gives you a unique selling point, which makes your service more attractive.
Try to experiment with wedding and engagement poses as it can differentiate you from the rest, a good wedding photographer knows everything about creative poses.
#6. It will take up a lot of your time
Wedding photography falls into three phases; pre-production, production, and post-production. All of this will take up literally months of your time – and that’s not an exaggeration.
Pre-production begins way in advance of the wedding when you’re booked in for this service. You may have to deal with lots of questions and directions from the bride/groom, which can continue right up to the big day.
As far as production goes, it’s already been touched upon in the second point! Then, you have post-production which is full of editing and distributing your images. Be prepared to commit a lot of your time to wedding photography – it’s not for the faint-hearted.
#7. Work usually comes in clusters
The thing with wedding photography is that you rely on people to get married! Do many people get married in the dead of winter? No. Do people get married during heatwaves? No.
Realistically, there are about a few months of the year when people look to get married. This usually spans from around May through to August. So, you may struggle to find work at all other points of the year.
As such, your work can come in a big cluster during the wedding season. So, be prepared to seek out additional work when there aren’t many weddings about!
The weddings off-season is the time to market your services. Remember that being a wedding photographer is not only about shooting the wedding day itself — you’re also the salesperson.
#8. Wedding photography can be hard work
A common misconception is that taking photos of weddings must mean your day is filled with loads of fascinating sights and scenes. But, the reality is far from that.
You could spend your day traveling many hours to a wedding, standing around for ages trying to find things to photograph, and then traveling all the way back home in the dead of night. It’s not always going to be a lavish occasion, so reel in your expectations!
#9. Rejection is natural
Listen, it’s literally impossible to get into wedding photography without experiencing rejection. Remember, this is the biggest day of two people’s lives; they need to make sure everything is perfect.
So, there will be times where people don’t want you to work at their wedding because they’re just not 100% sold on your photography. That’s totally fine; there will be people out there that love your style.
Take rejections with a pinch of salt – even the most experienced photographers get rejected by some clients. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible photographer who should bin their cameras and never take a photo ever again. It just means you don’t really match, so move on and look for other clients elsewhere.
#10. Make the most out of it
Sure, some weddings can be long and tedious affairs that physically and mentally drain you. But, you should still try your best to make the most out of every single job you undertake!
Think of it this way; you’re doing an incredibly unique job. You’re capturing joyous images that people will hold dear for the rest of their lives. Even couples that divorce will keep their wedding photos because they’re so special!
It’s a profession that you should enjoy, despite any of the pitfalls you may face. Think about the positives; you get to see people at their happiest points ever – and that’s special.
So, if you want to enter the big wide world of wedding photography, then you now know what to expect! Don’t be discouraged by all of this information; use it to plan out your career and be ready for what lies ahead.
About the author: Jeffrey Wang is a wedding photographer, creative director, and writer based in Sydney, Australia. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Wang’s work on his website and LinkedIn.