- Getting married is a momentous event; one that people usually want to preserve memories of for the rest of their lives. This means a great set of photos, often in album form; these days usually a video of the wedding too. Enter wedding photography. Because it is a unique event and one that cannot be recaptured or “photographed again next week”, brides and bridegrooms and their families are prepared to pay good money for high quality, professional wedding photography.
Experienced and established wedding photographers are often well organized, surrounded by a whole team including sales people, planners, stylists, photographers, videographers and photo and video editors. They present beautiful finished albums and DVDs which memorialize that major event for the happy couple. They also command a hefty fee.
So how do you break in?
Not everyone who gets married has a huge budget for wedding photography. Just read through the Cragislist ads under “creative gigs” for your area and you will find people looking for student photographers, low budget wedding photography and so on.
Breaking into any aspect of professional photography can be a sort of chicken and egg problem: you need a portfolio to get paying jobs but you need the paying jobs to build a real portfolio. Wedding photography is no exception.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. One is to offer to photograph a friend or relative’s wedding as a second photographer at no charge. A couple of these will give you enough experience, as well as a portfolio, so that you can tackle a low budget wedding on your own. Another way to start is as an assistant to an experienced wedding photographer. You won’t get paid much but you will gain valuable experience and material for your wedding photography portfolio which again will soon help you to strike out on your own.
Remember, you will only get one shot at a wedding, and there are key moments, in the service and at the reception, which you must capture as they occur because they will not be repeated. You won’t be popular if you fail to get the bridegroom putting the ring on the bride’s finger, the first dance, the cutting of the cake and so on. So you have to be sure of yourself, your equipment, your ability to direct people and you need to be in the right place at the right time before you commit to photographing a wedding. You must do a good job if you are the sole photographer responsible for capturing that wedding. You will not be forgiven if you do not.
Once you have shot a few weddings and your confidence and ability begin to rise, you will be in a position to charge more, to get more creative and deliver a better product which will put you on the road to high paying wedding photography.
For wedding photography you must be good with people, including directing them as needed to get the photos, be able to take natural looking photos using flash, and have a sense of timing to get the right moments in the wedding, those moments which the couple starring in the show will want to remember for the rest of their lives.
So, while you can be ambitious and keen to take on large weddings on your own,don’t fake it. If you don’t have the equipment and skill to deliver the product you are selling, then don’t offer it. Get more equipment, practice at other events which are not of the one-of-a-kind-never-to-be-repeated type until you are good enough to tackle a wedding.
There is plenty of money in wedding photography and it is not hard to break into if you take one of the approaches given above and gradually work your way up in terms of confidence, skill and pay.
David © Phillips is a professional writer and photographer living in Seattle, WA. You can find out more about him and his work at www.dcpcom.com.