Are you considering a career in wedding photography? If so, you may be wondering how to become a wedding photographer in the first place. That’s a great question! As a wedding photographer myself, I love helping other people start their own photography businesses.
I was actually studying psychology – working in a lab and training for a Ph.D., in fact! – when I got my first starter camera. What started as a sweet gift from my husband turned into a deep passion, and then I realized that I wanted to pursue it as my full-time career. I’ve never looked back!
It’s definitely a process (meaning it takes time) to become a wedding photographer. But if you are dedicated and thorough, you can do it!
I know that getting started can feel like the hardest, most overwhelming part of becoming a wedding photographer. I’ve been there! So, I’ve written this post based on my own experience of starting a wedding photography business.
Here’s how to become a wedding photographer in 8 steps!
First things first: if you want to be a wedding photographer, you need to have the right gear. Of course, this includes a camera, some different lens options, editing software, and other accessories.
Here are some items you’ll definitely need to get started:
I know that buying your camera and other gear is an exciting step. However, that doesn’t mean you should rush it! Before making any purchases, do lots of research. Read reviews, watch Youtube videos, and even check the items out in person (if possible) before buying. This will help ensure you buy quality gear that is the right fit for you (and your budget).
Once you’ve chosen your photography gear, the next step in this guide on how to become a wedding photographer is all about educating yourself. Just like you need to do your research on which gear to purchase, you also need to learn how your gear actually works. After all, you can have the greatest camera in the world, but it will be useless if you don’t know how it works!
So, learn all you can about how your camera works. Make sure you know how to shoot in your camera’s manual mode. Get super familiar with your editing software and its features. Furthermore, I recommend studying photography composition, styling, and lighting rules.
There are tons of different ways you can learn about wedding photography. You can watch video tutorials, read books and blog posts, and take online or in-person classes. I also highly recommend attending intensive wedding photography workshops! These 1-3 day workshops are a great way to fully immerse yourself in the world of wedding photography.
Next, to learn how to become a wedding photographer, you have to turn your head knowledge into real-life experience. It’s time to practice what you’ve learned.
When you’re first starting out, try to connect with other wedding photographers in your area to see if you can be their second shooter at the weddings they photograph. This will give you practical, on-the-job experience so you can get a feel for what shooting a wedding is really like. It’ll help you develop your own wedding photography shot list. Plus, you’ll gain photos to use in your portfolio!
Additionally, offer your photography services to your newly engaged friends and family members. Start out by offering to take their engagement photos. If they love their engagement photos, they will be more likely to hire you to take their wedding photos, too. Plus, you can show them the photos you’ve taken from your second shooting gigs, too.
From the inside workings of how a wedding day schedule works to what you should wear as a wedding photographer, getting real-life experience will help answer all of the little questions that the theory doesn’t quite cover. Practicing and getting this experience is what will boost your confidence that you can really do this!
Typically, the top way wedding photographers get new clients is through the internet. Therefore, it’s super important that you have a visually appealing, easy-to-use website that displays your gorgeous wedding photography portfolio.
Make sure to include only your best photos in your portfolio. Also, choose photos that really display your specific photography style and brand. You want to give people an accurate idea of what kinds of photos they’ll receive when they work with you.
Don’t forget to post your work on your business’s social media feeds, too! Most engaged couples like to check out the social media profiles of photographers they’re considering hiring to get an even better feel for the photographer’s work. Your social media accounts are a great place to let people get to know your specific personality and vibe, too. Since your clients will be hiring you to play a major role in a very intimate and important day, knowing that your personality meshes well with theirs is a huge selling point, too.
Next, you’ll also want to set up the administrative, logistical aspects of your business, too. Consider what business license(s) you’ll need, what kinds of insurance to purchase (liability and equipment are good starting points), bookkeeping practices, and how much money you’ll need to set aside for taxes. Getting these details hammered out early on isn’t fun but is so worth it. It’ll save you from having bigger messes to clean up or figure out later on.
When starting a wedding photography business, you’ll want to keep in mind what time of the year it is. Wedding season (meaning when most couples get married) is May through October. How busy you will be and how many clients (or potential clients) you’re working with will largely depend on what season it is.
For example, if you start your wedding photography business in December, you probably won’t get many (or even any) clients for at least a few months. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I actually recommend starting out as a wedding photographer a bit before wedding season. During this downtime, you can get more familiar with your gear, spend lots of time on education, set up the administrative side of your business, and practice to your heart’s content. Then, bam! When the craziness of wedding season starts, you’ll be all set and ready to go!
Once you’ve photographed some weddings and are happy with your work, you can start submitting your wedding photos to various publications. Wedding magazines, blogs, and wedding sites are all great places to feature your photography because these sources are widely used by couples planning their weddings. Having your photos included in these sources will put your work right in front of engaged couples who are looking for wedding vendors to hire.
Most wedding magazines and websites have a direct contact for submitting your photos, so I recommend starting by finding that contact info/submission form on the company’s website.
The final step in this guide on how to become a wedding photographer is more of an ongoing process. It’s about building your brand. You do this through the verbiage and content on your website, the visual aspects of your brand (such as your logo), your social media presence, marketing campaigns, and more.
Building your brand is about establishing who YOU are as a wedding photographer and what sets you apart from everyone else. I included this step last because you may not be able to pinpoint your brand right away when starting out as a wedding photographer. Let it come out as you gain experience in this industry. Pay attention to what makes you most excited, what you’re most passionate about, and what kinds of clients and weddings you like to work with the most. The more you hone in on these aspects, the more you can fine-tune your brand to truly represent your passions and better appeal to your dream clients.
If you follow these 8 steps on how to become a wedding photographer, you’ll be well on your way to the career of your dreams! However, if you have any other questions about becoming a wedding photographer or how to get started, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help and share more about my own experience. Or, if you have any tips on becoming a wedding photographer, I’d also love to hear your thoughts!