Once you’ve got the camera mastered, there’s another HUGE side to being a wedding photographer – your personality and organisational skills and ohhhh all the, “business side”. I’m not talking organising your DVD’s in alphabetical order, and keeping a tidy diary. I’m talking about organising people who probably don’t want to be organised. At the end of the day, the bride, groom and their bridal party want to be having a good time like the rest of the guests. If you can’t get their photos done quickly, and with a bit of fun involved, it’s not going to be an enjoyable experience for anyone! Unless they’ve had their own wedding, some bridal party members might not even realise how important the photos are to the bride and groom, so ensuring you don’t make the portraits a chore is ensuring the best outcome for everyone.
You need to be able to make people in front of the camera feel comfortable; otherwise you’re going to end up with rigid awkward shots. Be relatable, kind, patient but in control. No matter what kind of week you might have had, or if you’re fighting a head cold, suck it up and soldier on – you’ve got a job to do…and plaster a smile on your face so you’ll get a smile back! You’re going to be meeting and working with people of all ages, backgrounds, religions, races, attitudes, languages, confidence levels etc etc etc. There is no room for your own judgement, awkwardness or bad attitudes. Be confident but not arrogant and be ready to make some friends, another perk of a great job.
Being a wedding photographer can look like a cruisy job from the outside, but like any great looking job, there is more than the eye can see – some things you might not have thought about when planning to become a wedding photographer;
You’ll need back up gear. Not just another battery and memory card, I’m talking the whole shebang of cameras, lenses and flashes. How do you explain to a bride and groom that you can’t continue photographing their wedding because you tripped and dropped your only camera? HINT: Your camera should have dual card slots in case of a corrupted card.
Insurance and legal fees. You’re running a business that delivers a service for a fee to clients. You need to take into account legal considerations and get sound contracts drawn up and cover EVERYTHING under insurance. If you’re serious about becoming a wedding photographer, you need to cover the risks.
What you will earn. There is an assumption that a wedding photographer makes a lot of money. This might be the case for an established business that has all initial investments paid off and a reliable bookings average to pay for running costs, but this is not true for a start up business of any kind. After equipment, software, training costs, insurances, professionals (lawyers, accountants), travel, client products etc, there isn’t much left over. Keep this in mind before you give up your regular paying job for full time photography.
It’s a business. Wedding photography can’t just be a hobby, it is a business and you need to deliver. You will need some small business understanding. You will need to have processes in place to getting images to the clients as soon as possible (we live in a digital and instant age, and waiting 6 months just to even SEE a gallery of the wedding is not okay). You need to be able to find a way to promote your business to get MORE business. You’re going to be giving up your weekends. You need to manage your time well and be motivated. Mostly you need to be passionate, because if you don’t love what you’re doing, everything else will fall by the wayside.
People skills. All of your clients are different people and the client is ALWAYS right. You need to be ready to go above your best for each of them, and know that each will be looking for that different ‘something special’ in their wedding photos. Their wedding is a one and only, treat it that way.
So if you have the skills, and you think you have the knowledge, are you ready to get into wedding photography as a career? The very brutally honest (but required) low down is this; it is very easy to be an Uncle Bob and be in the right place at the right time, in amazing light, with a gorgeous bride and groom, and have all the planets align for a perfect shot to fall in front of you as you click the shutter button. BUT, if you don’t have the full confidence to GUARANTEE to a bride and groom that no matter the situation, you will deliver, then you’re not ready. I think you’re ready when despite the conditions are thrown at you – rain, hail, full shadow, full sunshine, extremely low light, gale force winds, 5 minutes to get all the photos you need – you know where to place your client in the right light, and the right position and coach them to allow for amazing to happen…. that’s when you are truly ready to say ‘yes, I’m a wedding photographer!’.
My trusty work horse that I spend every day with