Working as a wedding photographer comes with a certain element of risk. Like any other business, your chances of success are increased if you can avoid the pitfalls that all too often lead to failure. Since knowledge is power, we're going to point out some of the most common fatal mistakes made by wedding photographers so that you can avoid them and help ensure the health and profitability of your wedding photo business.
Not Enough Insurance, the Wrong Insurance or NO Insurance at All
I'll wager this wasn't the first thing that came to mind for most readers. Sadly, although there are few steps more important in starting up a photo business than insurance, it's also one of the most often overlooked. For a wedding photographer, the importance of proper coverage couldn't be more important. Aside from your investment in equipment, there are a myriad of opportunities for liability for property damage, personal injury and even Worker's Compensation.
Insurance is a complex issue and you need an expert to be sure you're adequately covered. We recommend contacting a company that specializes in insuring photographers: Pro Photographer's Insurance from RVNA. They've got the right coverage for your business, a solid track record and simple, online enrollment. Don't leave your wedding photography businesses unprotected. Get the coverage you need today.
Working Without a Second Shooter
Weddings and the events surrounding them are usually hectic. When the shooting sessions begin, there are too many angles to cover and too many potentially missed moments to think about trying to cover a substantial-sized wedding on your own.
When you hire a second shooter, that extra set of eyes and hands can make an incredible difference in delivering a robust, high-quality package to your clients. Intermediate shooters will often work as seconds very inexpensively and it's also possible to work out an exchange plan with another pro, so that you have each other's backs during your respective shoots. Don't try to be a one-man or one-woman show. The extra rewards and decreased stress level make hiring a second shooter well worth the investment.
Working Without an Assistant
While you might think this is covered with the last item, an assistant is an entirely separate consideration. While an assistant may capture photos during “slack” times, his or her chief responsibility is to make sure that the photographer has what's needed when it's needed. Secondary roles for an assistant range from setup and breakdown to crowd control and guard duty.
Don't underestimate the value of a good assistant. Encourage your second to bring his or her own, too. The ability to focus your attention on your shooting will make all the difference in the final results.
Working With One Camera
If you haven't seen this mistake pointed out at least a dozen times, you haven't been getting around much. If you're shooting your cousin's wedding in front of the Justice of the Peace in a courtroom, you can probably get by with one camera. In any other location, for any other client, you need to have two bodies, with lenses mounted, charged and ready. The fast-paced environment of a wedding ceremony or reception simply isn't going to allow time to switch lenses or swap batteries or memory cards.
Make sure you show up with at least two cameras ready to go and have your assistant make sure they stay ready and close at hand. Use a good harness to keep both of them at your fingertips and save your back.
Failing to Scout Locations
The choice of setting for a wedding and all the associated events is, of course, up to the clients. The responsibility for knowing the layout of the location and planning how to work with it, however, is yours. Don't leave yourself trying to decide where you, your support staff and the wedding party and guests need to be at the last minute.
Visit any unfamiliar locations for your shoots well ahead of time and do so during the time of day that the events will be taking place. Speak to property owners, ministers, et al, to know the physical and other boundaries before you tread on their turf. A little bit of per-investigation will help ensure the success of your shoot and the safety of everyone involved.
Insufficient Time with the Clients
We're lumping a lot into one category here, but this tends to be a number-one failure among aspiring wedding photographers. Wedding photography isn't a matter of working with cameras and light, it's a matter of working with people. The time you invest in getting to know your clients before, during and after the events is important to the outcome of the shoot and the satisfaction of your customer. Customer satisfaction equals increased sales and higher profits, which equals success.
Don't skimp on the amount of time you spend with your clients, from the initial meeting to the proofing sessions and final delivery. These people are your bread and butter. Treat them well, build relationships with them and reap the benefits when you deliver the perfect package to remember their special day.
Forgetting that You're Operating a Business
Photographers are creative people and most of us chose photography careers because we love creating beautiful images. An unfortunate side effect to being a creative person is a tendency to avoid the more mundane aspects of running a business, like marketing, accounting, legal issues and such. The fact remains, however, that without attention to these details, your business will fail.
If you can't or don't want to handle any aspect of businesses practices, then be smart enough to hire a professional in that field. Don't treat your business as a hobby if you want it to be profitable.
Keep in mind that what we've listed in this article are only some of the most common mistakes that new wedding photographers make. Any entrepreneurial career comes with challenges, and wedding photography has several unique ones. We're hoping that this list will help you meet some of the more common challenges and get you on the path to a rewarding future.