Many photographers may wonder how can they begin their professional journey to photography.
Perhaps fear prevents you from taking that first step that leads you to devote yourself completely to this passion. Well, I want you to put your fears aside and provide enough energy to encourage you to take that little step.
Within photography, there are a thousand different branches or niches.
But as you gain more experience, you’ll find that it’s hard to master a specific branch if you don’t stick to it. In fact, it may be the very thing that could be holding you back from being successful in a particular niche.
In this article I want to tell you about one of my personal passions : wedding photography
Wedding Photography is one of the best ways to make a living out of photography, it is a very competitive niche but it is a very large one as well, so Im sure there is a lot of let me show you how can you do it as well, take this checklist in consideration before starting this awesome journey:
Start on your own
First of all you will have to define the type of client that you are going to have to focus on, and I’m sorry to tell you that you will have to look for a low-profile client or not of importance to photography for their wedding day. It must be clear that a client of medium-high level will never hire a photographer without experience and without photos to show.
This is no problem, there are many customers who may want to hire your services. Later when you get experience and have more travel you can scale your type of customer.
I got my first wedding through an advertising portal where a couple was looking for a budget photographer for their wedding. I made them an offer that they could not refuse: I offered them a pre-wedding session and cover their wedding report at an open price in which they will decide how much they would pay me after seeing the results of the photos.
After this wedding I already had the first photographs that I could show my future clients. I started actively looking for new clients in some wedding portals, for the moment I was still focused on clients who were looking for an economic photographer to continue expanding my wedding portfolio.
Therefore if your intention is to start on your own I recommend that you look for these first clients in ads pages, profiles of wedding portals or even attending weddings of some family or friends that allow you to make some photos always respecting the work of the professional they have hired.
You also have the option to search for married couples and offer them a post-wedding session. This will not give you experience in what it is to make a wedding itself, but you will certainly get some very good photos for your portfolio that you can show to future
Working for other photographers
Under my experience, this is always the best option if you have the opportunity, since you will not only be able to gain experience, but you will also learn a lot about the way of working of the photographer and his business.
It is important that the style of the photographer you start working with is in line with what you would like to achieve in the future, as it may mark your own style a lot, so I would also advise you to avoid old-school photographers who still use old-fashioned techniques.
In my case, after making that first wedding that I told you, I was lucky to start working with a great photographer from my town. I was with him, first as an assistant and then as a second photographer at weddings, for 3 years. At this time I was also interspersing with the weddings that were coming out on my own, so on the one hand I took a lot of learning and experience with him while on the other hand I continued to increase portfolio and get a portfolio of clients.
During my first year I got, while working for the other photographer, 3 weddings of my own, the second 11 and the third 18 weddings. After this I decided to put an end to the photo studio and embark on the adventure on my own. Since then I do between 25 and 30 weddings every season.
Invest or Rent your Gear
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, but in my view it is one of the least important. Virtually any photography equipment can serve you. I can perfectly do a wedding with a 35mm and a flash for the photos of the party, I do not need more. However, it is true that a better team will offer you more possibilities.
For your first weddings I would not invest money in material, but I would save what I was earning to go buying new brighter optics or new cameras.
What you have to be clear about a wedding is that it is a unique, special and unrepeatable event. Therefore you must have a team that covers that need, this means that you have to minimize the possibility of losing the material. That is why I always require my cameras to have double memory slot, to have a backup on a second card. In the same way I always go to a wedding with at least 2 cameras, in case one fails me to have another at my disposal to continue working.
In short, in my opinion these would be the right equipment both for those who start and for when you can get a good number of weddings:
Basic Wedding Equipment:
1st camera body with double memory slot
2nd camera body
35mm 2.8-1.8 objective or 24-70 2.8 objective
Flash for party photos
Ideal Equipment for Weddings:
1st Full Frame camera body with good dynamic range, good ISO and double memory slot – very important! –
2nd Full Frame camera body with double memory slot (Sony in my case)
Shoe mount flash for camera and a couple of flashes for external use.
Business side of photography: your first clients
I already told you how to get the first clients, at first you have to go out to look for them, but once you are having filming and you are doing more weddings, you have to make the clients find you and come to you.
The first thing you will need is a good website where couples can see your best photographs, know how you work and even know your most personal part. Your website will be like your home, it is almost essential to have one.
It is also important to keep your Social Media up to date as well as separate them clearly from your personal profiles. Facebook Instagram is a priority nowadays, Pinterest and Facebook are also highly recommended.
In the same way it is interesting to be registered in the wedding portals with more circulation in your country, most of them usually have a free registration option.
After placing all the gears, you have to make everything work properly so that customers start knocking on your door. These are the possible channels through which they can reach you.
Word of Mouth:
The most important of all, the one you have to take care of the most and the cheapest one will come out. It’s that simple. If you do a good job and your clients are satisfied, they will not hesitate to recommend you to their family and friends who are going to celebrate their wedding soon and who need a photographer. In addition, these potential customers will have a much higher percentage of hiring you than anyone else.
SEO – SEM Web traffic:
Even if you are a photographer and your website is focused on photography, you have to take care of the SEO of your page, only then you can be appearing in the results of google and gradually go climbing to the top positions. This is a constant work and in which you have to have a lot of patience, since the results are slow to arrive. In spite of this, it is a strategy that in the long term can yield magnificent results.
Social Media (Tiktok, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook):
Social Media is one of the best ways to acquire new clients. They allow you to reach many more people and get followers that can be potential customers over time.
It is very important to take care of them and not stop uploading content to grow little by little. Remember that today Instagram must be your main social network as a photographer. In addition, if you decide to invest in advertising through networks you will get to reach a very well defined audience.
Wedding portals and local directories:
Here you have the perfect audience you are looking for, as a lot of brides looking for suppliers register on these types of portals. It is true that with a free subscription it is very difficult to stand out among the great competition of photographers that you will find, but you can always manage to close a wedding. If you are starting and you are not yet focused on a medium-high level of couples, it is worth investing in advertising in one of these portals, since they usually work very well when you still have a price cataloged as economic.
A good relationship with different suppliers in your sector can pay off very well. Try especially to focus on Weddings Planners and Wedding Farms, since they are the most customers can bring you.
This is very easy to get, be kind and respectful with them when you coincide in a wedding, take photos of the spaces or the decorations and offer them the images so they can use them in their Social Media or blogs mentioning you or linking to your website. In the end if you maintain a healthy relationship with different suppliers be sure that they will end up recommending you as a photographer to the couples who hire their services.
Don’t be afraid to take this step if wedding photography inspires you and you think you can do something great and bring your magic to the sector. Starting something new can always be scary, but really, you can do it if you believe in yourself.
I hope these tips will help and encourage you to take that first step as a photographer. If you have any questions or questions you can put a comment that both Dania and I will be happy to answer you and solve your question.