- You may have an opportunity to learn from an experienced photographer, as an assistant or second shooter.
- Friends and family members may ask you to shoot their weddings.
- Another solution is to learn the three primary skills before you shoot any wedding. For example, practice shooting portraits of family members and friends in formal attire in locations similar to where you would have to shoot wedding portraits. Offer to shoot free prom photos for the local high school students in your neighborhood. These assignments will also help you learn the lighting skills you’ll need. Offer to shoot birthday parties, community festivals and dances and similar events to hone your photojournalism or events photography skills.
Whether you’re starting a part-time or full-time wedding photography business, your first competitive challenge is to have the right photography skills. For weddings, these are primarily portrait, lighting and photojournalism. Without these fundamental skills, it’s almost impossible to shoot your first wedding successfully; and one bad wedding could make it equally impossible to grow your business.
1. Portrait Skills: You must know how to poise people in formal wear for formal portraits and be able to direct them to look relaxed and natural. The traditional shots of the bride and groom; bride, groom and wedding party; bride, groom and family members; etc. are generally the most important to any newlyweds and their families.
The additional challenge is that most often these types of photos are not shot in the controlled conditions of a studio, so not only must you capture these formal portraits, but also know how to shoot them at a church altar, outdoors or other locations.
2. Lighting Skills: Excellent wedding portrait images also require specific lighting skills. Although a single-source, on-camera flash may be adequate in some situations, you must also know how to shoot off-camera flash techniques, balance flash and ambient light and to use fill flash and multiple light sources to maintain as much control as possible.
3. Photojournalism Skills: A wedding is an event, which requires photojournalistic skills, so you’re able to record it as it occurs, not as you would like it to occur. Your goal is to capture the spontaneity of the couple’s special day. Your camera and light source must be always at the ready to record interactions and reactions that simply can’t be staged, but your client will expect you to photograph.
4. Acquiring these three essential skills requires their own strategy.
5. Many, if not most, couples expect to have video shot of their wedding too. You’ll have to decide whether you want to offer both still and video services, but it’s likely the market will require that you do. Shooting video is different than shooting still photography, so this is another skill that you want to develop thoroughly before offering the service. Again, use non-wedding opportunities to learn the required video skills, which includes editing as well. Another solution is to form a strategic partnership with a videographer who specializes in shooting just video at weddings.
6. As an aspiring wedding photographer, the one challenge that you face everyday is where to find new clients. Traditional advertising methods are costly and time-consuming, but thanks to the Internet, you’re able to market your wedding photography business on SnapKnot.com, one of the fastest growing, one-stop sites where couples shop for their wedding photographer.
As a SnapKnot member, your profile and portfolio is beautifully displayed to couples searching to find the photographer that matches their wedding and their style. Plus, the service is absolutely free to all wedding couples.
SnapKnot’s Diamond membership packs the most marketing punch and is the best investment value. For just $49.95 per month (or 20% off a yearly membership), you receive an unlimited image allowance for your portfolio, top-of-page placement, listings in as many as 5 cities, large profile size, AlbumExposure integration, listing on the iPhone app, featured posts about your business, space for HD video and the capability to chat live with potential clients.
SnapKnot has proven to be so successful for many wedding photographers that the people at SnapKnot guarantee that you’ll make three times more than your investment in a SnapKnot membership after 6 months or you’ll receive a free membership for six months.
Three additional levels of SnapKnot memberships are available, Platinum, Gold and Basic. Visit http://SnapKnot.com/features for all the details.
7. Of course, you can’t serve all the new customers generated by your SnapKnot membership without the right equipment. If you expect to be successful, then there is no substitute for a professional-grade DSLR camera. The brand could be a personal preference, but it may be better to research what type of cameras successful wedding photographers use and follow their lead.
8. Lenses are other critical pieces of wedding photography equipment; however, remember, weddings occur at their own pace, so you may not have time to make many lens changes during the event. Some successful wedding photographers recommend a fast, mid-range zoom lens, such as 24–70mm. It has a slight wide-angle focal length, prime-lens focal length and a pleasing portrait focal length. Other wedding pros swear by prime lenses only, such as a 24mm, 50mm and/or 85mm.
9. Lighting equipment is third on the list of essential equipment. Again, a flash should be of professional quality, with the power to light a large space and a fast recycling time, so you don’t miss any of the action. If you decide to target high-end weddings, then additional flash heads, reflectors, umbrellas, remote triggering systems for multiple flashes, etc. could be needed.
10. You may also add a tripod, filters, flash head gels, flash diffusion kits, a cleaning kit and various other accessories to provide you with a full complement of tools to capture all the stunning images the bride and groom expect.
Photograph © Chris Becker
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