I have blogged previously about my top 5 tips for aspiring photographers, but I still get asked this same question more specifically for aspiring wedding photographers. This is one e-mail I have received.
I came across your work a few months ago and love it!
I’m currently building my portfolio – at the moment it’s mainly travel and lifestyle – and I’ve also taken a few classes on lighting and photoshop but would like to start shooting weddings. I was wondering if you had any advice on how to start. Would you recommend assisting someone and then eventually branching out on my own?
Thanks for your time,
Here are my tips…
1. Share your photographs
Even if you are not yet currently photographing weddings, it is really important to share your photographs and talk about your passion, because you never know who may need your services. When I first started people were interested in hiring me based on my travel photographs which I would post on my personal Facebook profile. Remember that if you consistantly show people that you are a photographer by regular posting images online, they will think of you when they need a photographer.
2. Keep a portfolio
There is no excuse not to have a collection of your best images readily available as most of us now have smart phones. My tip would be to create an album of your best images and save it in the photos section of your phone so that if your having a conversation about your work, you can quickly pull out your phone and show your work. I booked quite a few weddings this way. I would have the images saved on my iPad and I would get talking to somebody randomly and the conversation would veer towards, “so what do you do?”, and after telling them what I do, “Oh really, my friend’s sister is getting married soon” and then I would say, “Ah, that’s cool, here have a look at some of my work…” **pull out iPhone/iPad**, wait for a positive response and then direct them to my Facebook like page or website.
3. Educate yourself
I honestly don’t believe it is necessary to attend a fancy photography course at college or university to become a professional wedding photography, but it is important to understand how your camera works – which means not shooting in auto mode. Luckily for us, we now live in a time where there is a lot of information out there on the web so there it is easy to get access to information. The website, CreativeLive.com is also a great source of information, especially from a business point of view and offers lots of free online classes.
4. Use social media
Start a Facebook Like page that is more specific to the work you want to attract. At first, I didn’t have any weddings, so my first few Facebook albums were about wedding, rather than actual weddings I had photographed. One album was on Vera Wang wedding dresses I liked and another was from a wedding fayre that I attended where I photographed behind the scenes. I’m not saying you should do it this way, but it is a way that I started the ball rolling. Instagram is also great for showcasing your work.
5. Assist a wedding photographer
The first two weddings I photographed, I did so with no experience in wedding photography and I hadn’t assisted any wedding photographers beforehand . That said, the pictures for both weddings were fine. However, if possible, I would recommend assisting a wedding photographer when you are first starting out. Assisting is a great way to get used to being a wedding and seeing what is required and the possible pressures your may face without any of the full responsibility.
If you want to assist a photographer, you have to ask and keep asking and think about what you can offer – are you able to photograph behind the scenes? Or maybe even film snippets on your phone behind the scenes? Offer these things as they maybe useful to the photographer. The pictures in this post are thanks to my Assistant, Safrana Musa. Make it easy for someone to work with you.. If you are contacting photographers, tell them your availability, what equipment you have in advance… and be ready to go.
6. If possible get experience as a 2nd shooter
Not so long after I photographed my first two weddings, I was approached by a wedding photographer (Paul), after he heard through a mutual friends that I was into photography. I created two wedding photography books based on the pictures I had taken at the first two weddings for my own reference so when we met up, I showed him my work and he agreed to take me on as a 2nd photographer/assistant.
These tips are what worked for me in terms of getting started with wedding photography, I did not take out any forms of adverts, but I spoke about my photography to people when I happened to meet them and utilised social media by regularly posting images online. I was then able to book more weddings organically through word and mouth. We each have our own situations and circumstances to which we have to adapt to and become flexible. I don’t think it is always possible to do exactly do the same thing as someone else and get the exact same results, but these tips should hopefully get you on the path to becoming a wedding photographer.