© Photo : Stefan Blejeru
As you may know, many people dream of becoming a wedding photographer.
We see an increasing number of new photographers arriving on this market every year.
These newcomers present various profiles.
Some of them take very good photos but lack business and management skills.
Others have a past experience in management, sales or marketing. They will be able to make a living out of their photographs more easily.
However most wedding photographers are self-educated, regarding photography skills as well as managing a business.
The wedding day is the most important day in “your” couples’ lives. This comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility.
Are you thinking about becoming a wedding photographer ?
Did you just launch your activity ?
Our photographers’ community share 7 tips to help you get started and make actual profit out of your work.
1 : invest in training and education
© Photo : Patrick Lombaert
Wedding photography used to have bad press. However this is a demanding subject.
Indeed, you must master various light conditions : harsh sunlight in the middle of the day, dark churches, crazy lights on the dancefloor…
You also need to know how to :
- Take instant shots during most of the day, while being discreet. Nowadays a lot of photographers call it a photojournalistic approach.
- Manage group pictures to have beautiful portraits without taking 2 hours out of the cocktail time.
- Guide the bride and groom during their couple session.
Last but not least, you cannot miss any key moment : don’t think about repeating the vow or ring exchange !
As you understand, you must own a minimum of technical skills to offer a service of quality to brides and grooms.
As a consequence you should get trained if you do have weaknesses among the above mentioned situations.
Going beyond pure technical training, various courses are available to help you find more customers, develop your own style or better manage your business.
An online course is cheaper, an in-person course is often more intense.
Group courses will allow you to meet and discuss with fellow colleagues and boost your motivation.
In the Fotostudio community, we heard a lot of photographers regretting they did not invest in training sooner.
2 : have an entrepreneur spirit
© Photo : Charly Fromentin
You might live in a country where it is very easy to create your own wedding photography business.
However lots of people create their business and give up after one or two years struggling to make a living.
As a freelance photographer, your salary doesn’t come automatically at the end of the month.
As a consequence you must dedicate a significant amount of time to prospecting and communicating when you start out.
You cannot possibly be everywhere and do everything at the time :
- Work on your website your natural indexing (Search Engine Optimization)
- Launch sponsored online campaigns (Google adwords for example)
- Communicate actively on social medias
- Activate word of mouth
- Organize partnerships
- Other means such as fairs, flyers, …
In conclusion, here is one piece of advice : choose a main channel and go for it !
Even though you don’t count on your website to find your customer, we still recommend having at least a simple portfolio website.
As a matter of fact, some people will want to check your work out after hearing about you.
Having a website will make you look more professional.
Be patient and persistent : first results often take a few months before coming in.
Define your prices
Photographing a wedding is not only “pushing a button” as some may think.
This is a real investment in time and finances.
Indeed, for a 10 hours wedding shoot, most photographers actually work more than 20 hours total.
This total amount of work include :
- First contact with the couple
- Initial meeting to sign the contract
- Preparation of your equipment
- Traveling and shooting time
- Culling and editing
- Creation and delivery of an online gallery and/or album
In order to make a living out of your activity, you must also take into account your overheads taks and costs :
- Time dedicate to administrative tasks, website, social networks
- Investment into photo and computing equipment
- Various subscriptions : phone, internet, accounting and editing softwares…
As a freelancer, you probably benefit from a minimum social protection and no unemployment entitlement.
Keep this in mind when setting up your rates : you must make a living and ideally save up a bit every month “just in case”.
3 : find your style and feed your inspiration
© Photo : Les Lumières d'Alice
A multitude of wedding photographers are out on the market.
It is therefore important to know how to stand out to your clients. Don't look too much at what your colleagues are doing, for two main reasons:
- If you compare yourself too much, you risk demotivating yourself. You should only compare yourself to yourself: check the evolution of your work over time.
- By viewing wedding pictures over and over, you risk reproducing a type of image without looking for your own style. Cultivate your eye and look for inspiration outside of the wedding industry, by visiting museums or exhibitions for example (not only photography, but art in general).
4 : work with a contract and insurance
© Photo : Guillaume Gimenez
Wedding photographer contract
Sign a contract with your bride and groom.
First, it will reassure them of your professionalism.
Secondly, it will limit the risks. If 99% of your clients will be benevolent and adorable, unfortunately, there can sometimes be surprises.
A wedding is stressful, a misunderstanding and a conflict can occur.
A contract frames your service and greatly helps you manage a potential conflict.
You don't have a contract ?
Fotostudio has created templates of contracts and GTC for you to re-use. You will find them in your account, tab "Settings" -> Data → "Contract templates and terms of business".
They are available as soon as you register, even in the trial period.
A major advantage that fotostudio brings you is the signature of these contracts directly online by your customers.
These contracts are also "dynamic" and directly adapted to the details of your customers and their shooting.
Depending on the country where you live, insurance might be legally mandatory or not.
Anyhow, professional insurance is strongly recommended.
A wedding photo shoot can be a bit rock'n'roll! We move everywhere, looking for the moment, focused at 200% and a small accident can happen.
For example, I once knocked down a child who was running in my legs at the end of a secular ceremony. I was backing up as the bride and groom were leaving and hadn't see him.
Even though it was not the case, he could have easily been injured.
To avoid this eventuality, subscribe to professional liability and business insurance.
5 : prepare your wedding shoots carefully
© Photo : Les Lumières d'Alice
Arriving at a wedding with peace of mind - although a little stress is always there - will allow you to unleash your creativity.
Here are some preparation tips:
- Check in with the bride and groom in the days/weeks leading up to the wedding to get your roadmap for the big day.
That is to say detailed planning including the schedule, address of each step of the day and necessary details to be fully autonomous.
- Ask the couple to prepare a list of groups to be photographed, as well as one or two contacts who will be in charge of gathering these groups. This will ensure a smooth and quick group session.
- Ask the bride and groom for one or two emergency contacts to reach in case of a problem: the bride and groom often don't have their phone with them.
- Some photographers like to scout the location in advance to anticipate lighting conditions. You can do so if this makes you feel better.
However keep in mind that conditions can always change on the day. For example, the caterer may park his truck right at the spot chosen for the couple's photos. Adaptability is surely a must-have skill for wedding photographers !
- You can prepare a list of photos you want to take and look at it when you need a shot of inspiration on the d-day. Some photographers also set goals or themes to work on at each wedding : play with reflections, backlighting, color or details for example.
- Always have a plan B in case of rain for couple and group photos.
- Prepare your equipment the day before including enough (charged) batteries and memory cards.
- Finally, take water and snacks, enough to last the whole event without asking anything from the bride and groom.
6 : Anticipate !
© Photo : Charly Fromentin
By having well prepared the reportage beforehand, you will be able to anticipate the key moments on the D-day.
Try to always have in mind what will happen next in order to position yourself and adjust your settings.
This is especially important during the ceremony when you have to be ready for the key moments:
- The arrival of the bride and the look of her future husband on her
- The exchange of the wedding rings
- The signing of the registers
- The exit of the ceremony where you go from a dark to a very bright environment
7 : Show self confidence
© Photo : Stefan Blejeru
Many of you suffer from impostor syndrome, stress about sales meetings and are not comfortable with your prices.
Put yourself in the shoes of the bride and groom: organizing a wedding is stressful, so they want to make sure they choose the right service providers.
When meeting with potential clients, be confident and reassuring. If you are hesitant, the couple will feel it and may indeed doubt the quality of your work.
If you appear sure of yourself, they will be reassured and this will be a good start.
Simply be yourself and be confident in your work. Here again, some training courses can help you to better manage the sale.
Finally, if you have a bad "feeling" with a couple, or if the bride and groom are trying to negotiate the price too much, don't get involved with them.
Having heard it from many photographers, a complicated relationship before the actuel booking remains so throughout the service.
By staying firm on the price and the contract, you show them that you are professional, that the price is well thought out and does not vary according to the client.
Accepting too much negotiation is potentially opening the door to other requests and demands on the day.
The top 1 advice from the fotostudio community is: be an entrepreneur and get trained!
Many have indeed wasted time before getting trained or setting up real business management.
A big thank you to the photographers of the community who contributed to this article.
To join the Facebook Fotostudio support group, dedicated to registered members of Fotostudio, click here.