How to Become a Professional Wedding Photographer: Step by Step

February 6, 2019

Making money from photography is a commitment you have to think about carefully. You may think you are an expert and your photographs are stunning but would others agree? We have all watched talent shows on television where a contestant thinks he or she can sing, only to be voted off immediately. Friends and relatives may also encourage you, but if you are serious about making this your profession, start building a good portfolio to show clients. If you have a friend or a relative in the business, get their opinion. If there is a local studio, see if they are willing to give you counsel. Here’s some practical advice on how to become a wedding photographer:

  • Don’t throw away your job. Not just yet.
    If you have a steady job which pays the bills and gives you a comfortable lifestyle, don’t throw it away immediately. You need to ensure your business will work before you burn your bridges. Constantly worrying about financial security will only impede your creativity, and you might have to take up work that you don’t like. You must also decide how much time you are going to allocate to your business. There are projects you can undertake on weekends or for commercial enterprises so explore those first.

    …and a camera, are just a few of the things you need to succeed!
  • Realise this is a serious job, not a hobby.
    This is the biggest day of the bride and groom’s life. They hope this will be an experience of a lifetime and they are looking for photographs they can cherish for the rest of their lives. For your own reputation, but more importantly for their future enjoyment and pleasure, make sure you can deliver what they require.
    We have now moved away from the more posed wedding shots which were the standard a few decades ago. The modern wedding is more relaxed, candid and less formal. However, the bride and groom will still want professional portraits to capture the glamour and emotions of the occasion.
  • Begin securing work to build your portfolio.
    Perhaps you could ask if you could take some photographs at someone else’s wedding, where they already have a professional photographer booked. This will also allow you to see how they work and the poses they use. Please learn but allow them to do their work. Many weddings take place outdoors, so get yourself acquainted with how lighting conditions change throughout the day.
    There could also be couples who are on a very limited budget and can’t afford a professional. You can offer them a cut-price deal or do it for free to build up your portfolio. If it is your first assignment make sure they understand that you are aspiring to become a wedding photographer. The first session may turn out to be a total disaster and they should be willing to take the risk.
  • The early days will be tough. Don’t give up.
    As a wedding photographer, you can take assignments over weekends and thereby protect your 9-5 job. A large number of weddings are held on weekends so there is an opportunity for supplemental income to be made. This might be a lot to juggle, but these ceremonies are an ideal way of beginning your career in photography and also turning a tidy profit. Engaged couples who are looking for a photographer and have a substantial budget in mind, can make you a great deal of money later on if you are a seasoned provider of excellent service.

    zenfolio website
    Zenfolio offers some easy to set up websites for photographers.
  • Build your presence.
    Word of mouth is an excellent advertisement. Getting a professional website is a great idea. If you already have a good reputation as a photographer in another genre, be that in portraits or some other subject, it may be easier to become a wedding photographer, as you may be approached directly.
  • Present yourself and your work.
    Couples are not just going to give you a contract for their wedding. You have to prove that you can deliver the goods. Ensure you have a great portfolio to show for the first few assignments. If you have taken photographs at family weddings or those of colleagues, place them in an album to show to your prospective clients. They will not be impressed if you present the evidence of your skills on a tablet screen. You are now a professional and need to prove it.
  • Rev up your ‘people skills’.
    It is perhaps best to go for smaller weddings to start with. If there are over 100 guests, you are going to need excellent social skills to get them to follow instructions. You need to be friendly but firm or it will turn into a disaster. Finally, only take assignments you are certain you can handle. You cannot go back the next day to retake shots that haven’t worked.

Think you’re ready to become a wedding photographer? Why not explore a photography job with us?