It seems that in the past 5 years the wedding photography business has exploded with a ton of new faces. I feel like I’m seeing a new photographer show up every time I look on Facebook, at bridal fairs, or just online. I’m not an expert by any means, but I thought today I would throw in my opinion on how to become a wedding photographer considering I did it myself without a ton of help.
Please don’t do it for the money!
First things, first. Not everyone should be a wedding photographer. If you have no interest in weddings or working with people, then you should probably focus on landscape or product photography. Yes, you could have a photo journalistic style, but at some point, you will have to interact with people. If you are only out to make money from weddings, I’d suggest you either have a change of heart of do something else. Yes, you can make good money from wedding photographer, but for most people, it’s not more than an average job. Now, I’m not saying these things make you incapable of being a wedding photographer, I’m just saying you shouldn’t start yet. People please consider how important this day is. This is someone’s wedding; for some people, it’s something they’ve planned for years. If you aren’t good and prepared for it, you could ruin that day.
3/4 tips on how to become a wedding photographer
Alright, the first area I would suggest you develop is your photography education. If you don’t know how to compose a shot or how to work a camera, you’re done. There are tons of different ways to become educated, many which are free. The internet is a great source for education. If you simply do a Google search, you will find a ton of tutorials and videos. One great resource is Creative Live or Kelby TV. Both of these are free and cover a ton of topics. Another option would be books. Go to Barnes and Noble or another source, and you should find a whole section of books on photography, and some devoted just to wedding photography. The last way would be to go to a workshop or some type of live training. I know our local camera shop offers different levels of classes on Saturdays, and several local photographers have had workshops.
Once you get knowledge, I would suggest you get experience. The most common way would be to work with an established photographer. Wedding photographers are always looking for help, so I would suggest reaching out to a few and finding a good match. Some will pay, while other expect you to be a volunteer. Either way you will get to see what it’s really like and most likely get some hands on experience. If you don’t want to go that route or can’t find someone, I suggest you work very slowly into the real deal. I would recommend doing some general portrait work/engagement sessions for free. Once you feel solid about that, you might, and I mean might, shoot a wedding for free. I would suggest completely free over getting paid at all because at least then they know to expect next to nothing. There are some people out there that will really go for that, and if you screw up, no big deal.
The very last thing I would consider when wanting to become a wedding photographer is the gear. Most people freak out about the equipment and the cost, and that’s the first thing they focus on. Truthfully you can do some decent work with a cheap camera, but I’m not suggesting you go into a real wedding without good gear. I’d suggest borrowing or renting equipment at first. If you’ve built a good relationship with another photographer, he or she might let you borrow some of their backup or older gear. I know I’ve had to borrow before in a tight situation. The other option is renting. Why pay $2000 for something when you can rent it for $100? This way you can try out a bunch of gear and see what you actually like before you purchase it. I know I’ve bought several things before that I ended up not using. If I had rented, I wouldn’t have made that mistake.
I know I said the equipment was the last thing, but there is one other very important idea. Learn how to run a business. If you don’t run it like a business, it will either fail or you’ll never really make money. A smart business would never charge $500 for an entire day of work, plus the use of equipment, and plus the time later for editing. It doesn’t make sense. You’d be making like $5 an hour. Also, a smart business doesn’t spend money if it doesn’t have to. It learns where to market and how to best use its resources.
There are plenty of articles out there giving advice on how to become a wedding photographer, so I would suggest you look around and check out all the things they say. This is all my opinion and basically what I did (or what I wish I had done) to get this far as a photographer. Feel free to check out my other articles for photographers to see how I shoot, how I edit, and my opinions on equipment.