So You Want To Be A Wedding Photographer?
I’ve been asked on quite a few occasions now, by keen amateur photographers, how exactly to become a pro wedding photographer. I’m certainly no expert, as I’ve only been professional full-time for a year now, but I can at least share some of the things that I have learned along the way, as well as the pitfalls to avoid. So, here we go:
- Make sure you are REALLY passionate about photography- as with any business, you have to be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort to ensure success. If you love photography, it really doesn’t seem like hard work, and hence you are far more likely to put the required hours in.
- Make sure you really LOVE working with people- this may seem like a really obvious point, but I have met plenty of wedding photographers that find working with couples annoying and frustrating. If you don’t like working with people, then please find another area of photography to focus on. In many ways, your people skills are more important in this business than your photographic skills. If your communication skills are weak, then focus on improving them through reading and training. I cannot over-emphasise how critical these so-called ‘soft skills’ are.
- Learn about lighting and composition- In the same way that words and sentences are the building blocks of language, so light and composition are the building blocks of photography. Despite what many people tell you, you can learn how to compose and light a scene, through training, reading, and experience. Make a point of looking at the work of photographers you admire, and deconstruct how they compose their work. You can learn a great deal in this manner.
- People watch- If, like us, your style relies heavily on documentary photography, you need to start doing some serious ‘people watching’. Whenever you can, observe the way that people interact with each other, the way they hold themselves, and the shapes that they form. After a while you pick up on patterns that help you to predict behavior during a wedding. This in turn helps you to spot and then capture those interesting but fleeting moments on the day.
- Market, market, then market some more- You can be the most gifted and talented photographer in the world, but if you don’t know how to market yourself, you won’t achieve anything. Firstly write yourself a marketing plan, then learn all you can about networking, Search Engine Optimisation and other forms of marketing. Monitor and measure all of your marketing activities- the ones that fail you should ditch. The ones that work, do more of. It really is that simple!
- Don’t give up- Let’s face it- you ARE going to make mistakes and screw up. We all do. There are tons of mistakes that I have made over the last couple of years, but in the process I have learned loads of valuable mistakes. Don’t become disheartened, and don’t give up. Learn to be resilient and persistent and you will succeed.
I really hope you found these tips useful. Don’t forget that one of the best ways to enter this industry and build your own portfolio, is to work as a second shooter to an established professional. You will learn so much doing this, far more than you will through wedding photography workshops. This is because you can never full simulate the pressures and time constraints of a real wedding. Then, you can focus on building up your business through sustained and continual marketing activities. I wish you the very best of luck!
Matt and his wife Brenda run Foden Photography, a wedding and portrait photography business based in Surrey, UK