Wedding photography can offer a challenging yet rewarding career. Here are some top tips to help you make it in this tough industry.
Weddings are big business in the UK with the average couple shelling out more than £20,000 on their big day. With so much money being spent on weddings, couples want to make sure they remember every detail of the day, and it’s unsurprising that many view the photographs as one of the most important elements of the wedding. With more and more couples willing to spend money on good quality photographs, there are plenty of opportunities out there for aspiring wedding photographers.
If you are thinking about a career as a wedding photographer, here are some things to consider before you jump in.
Is it right for you?
Before embarking on a career as a wedding photographer it’s important to firstly think carefully about whether it’s the right path for you. Wedding photography may seem like a fun, glamorous career but in reality it is a lot of hard work.
The wedding day itself is a lot of work; you may find yourself on your feet and running around for 10 hours at a time with little opportunity for rest. What’s more, as the majority of UK weddings take place on a Saturday, free weekends will become somewhat of a rarity, especially during the summer months. And it’s not just the wedding day. You will also need to dedicate a lot of time to post-production, client meetings, as well as more standard business activities such as marketing, communications, admin and finance.
It’s demanding work and not for everyone, but if you’re happy to put in the effort, you could have a rewarding career ahead.
No formal qualifications are required to become a wedding photographer, but it’s important that you are a very experienced photographer and how to get the most out of your equipment. Photography is a combination of art and science, and capturing a great photo is far more complex than point and click.
With this in mind, it makes sense to undertake a photography course. There are specific wedding photography courses out there but a standard photography course should be sufficient to teach you the basics of framing, lighting and composition that you need to take a great photo. Undertaking a photography course also offers a great opportunity to build up your portfolio.
Experience is key
When it comes to building your photography career, there is no substitute for experience. Gaining relevant experience will help to build your confidence and improve your photography skills, enabling you to offer a better service to future clients. Try to get a job as an assistant with a well-established wedding photographer, or apply for an internship or work experience. As well as learning from a professional you will also gain a valuable insight into the industry and what the job entails.
Create a portfolio
Any potential clients are going to want to see examples of your work, so it’s important to build up a professional portfolio that showcases your talent and personal style. The practical work undertaken in a photography course can be added to your portfolio or, alternatively, if you have friends or family who are getting married, you may want to offer them your photography services for free in return for using the photographs in your portfolio. As your experience grows, remember to constantly update your portfolio so that you are always showing clients your best work.
Getting the right equipment
Using the right equipment is key if you want to achieve professional, high-quality results. Unfortunately, photography equipment is expensive, which can be difficult for a wannabe wedding photographer who’s just starting out. However, a few key essentials should help you get the results you want, and you can add to your equipment as your business grows. When you’re starting out, a good quality digital SLR camera is a must (two if possible), along with a selection of three or so lenses which allow you to capture general, portrait and low-light shots, and a flash. Aside from cameras and lenses, you will also need some decent post-production equipment, such as a computer and image editing software.
Building your business
Once you have the skills and experience, it’s time to start building your business. Before starting out, it’s important to research the industry and your chosen location. For instance, if you’re operating in the South East, do some research on the London and Essex wedding photography industry. This will help you to find out what other photographers are doing in your area, where your work and style fits in, and how to set your service list and prices accordingly. You might also pick up some useful pointers from your competitors! There are also more practical things to consider, such as ensuring you have Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance in place to protect both you and your clients.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, you need to get your name out there and start winning clients, so a knowledge and understanding of marketing techniques is always helpful. First and foremost you need a website. This doesn’t need to be all bells and whistles but it should be clear, easy to navigate, reflect your artistic style, and, of course, show off your best work. Social media is also important and platforms such as Instagram are great for sharing your photographs and connecting with potential clients. Wedding fairs are also an effective way of making contact with grooms and brides to be.
Having said all that, the best form of promotion is word of mouth, so once you win a client, be sure to give them an outstanding service - a recommendation from a satisfied client is much more effective than virtually any other marketing activity that you may undertake. And it’s free!
Once you gain a reputation as a trusted, good quality wedding photographer, you’ll find that business is booming and you’ll soon be in demand to help couples capture the most important day of their lives.