It’s been almost 6 years since we took our first steps into the world of wedding photography. When we started our business as duesudue, in May 2013, it was not in our intention to become wedding’s photographers.
The main plan was to dedicate ourselves to mountain photos, to frame our travels, to experiment with ancient photographic printing techniques and projects of blow-ups on the street!
The stress of photographing weddings was something we would happily have left to others.
Our first assignment came by chance, as always happens, when a couple of friends of other friends, suggested we take some pictures at their wedding. They were organizing their wedding at very short notice, they had a limited budget and they were happy to trust us to catch their day.
Even today we don’t know how we managed to do it without combining some disaster!!
Although we didn’t realize it at the time, we were completely inexperienced to be a wedding photographer. We had only one professional-level camera, some photo lenses, but above all, we had no idea about what a wedding day would be for a wedding photographer.
We repeat it again: we were very fortunate that everything went smoothly: for example, it didn’t rain and our first couple was kind and really friendly.
We, unaware of the danger, had so much fun!
After that very first marriage we definitely changed our vision of wedding photography. We realized that we could express ourselves creatively even in this kind of photography. Also, we could interpret that situation in a personal and sincere way. The idea was very stimulating that only one day of work contained all the photographic genres that interested us: from reportage to portraiture, from still-life to documentary.
Our prejudices have collapsed in an instant and now 6 years later, we can look back at the almost 100 weddings we’ve photographed and know that we made the right choice by saying yes to that first opportunity.
So, how do you become wedding photographer?
We often receive emails from aspiring wedding photographers who ask how to enter this sector. The Facebook groups are full of the same questions.
As with any other job, there are many different ways to do it.
We firmly believe that there is enough work for everyone so we would never discourage anyone from trying to build a business in this area. Unfortunately, we also see a lot of improvisation and couples who contact us to try to remedy with the post-production of completely wrong shots by photographers who are really too unprepared.
Here are some of our tips for entering the wedding industry
Start from second!
Surely the most sensible path in wedding photography is to start by following and helping a more experienced wedding photographer. No matter how talented you are as a photographer, a day of a real wedding is something else!
It is essential to know how a wedding is held, what moments are important to capture, how to be in the right place at the right time, how to behave with guests, when to take away the bride and groom for portraits and where …
As you become more and more experienced, you will develop your style and your way of doing things but at the beginning understanding the timing of the work is fundamental.
The advantages of being a second photographer are obvious: by following an experienced wedding photographer you can learn a great deal without putting yourself in the position of sole responsibility for the images of a wedding. Although it may seem mortifying and not very creative, there is no better way to see how one works. How to choose poses for a couple, how to choose the best location or photo lenses for each situation. The cons of this approach are that many wedding photographers do not trust themselves to bring along a second photographer with no experience in a marriage. Having the responsibility towards their customers to provide the best possible images, they often have to choose a second, with at least some experience. For this, it can be difficult to find someone ready to risk.
If you want to offer your services as an assistant or second photographer, here are some tips and advice:
• DO NOT send a generic email to many photographers. They immediately recognize each other: we already receive many messages and they are really annoying. Choose some local photographers, the ones you feel more like you, whose style you like and when you propose yourself make sure your email is personal and make us believe that you actually watched our site for more than 1 minute.
• Do not be discouraged if you are rejected or not answered. We receive 5-6 emails a month from photographers who propose themselves as assistants. We try to answer everyone, but we are not able to offer work very often. Many other photographers receive so many emails, often those that have been copied and pasted to dozens of people, who do not have the time or are not stimulating to respond.
• Join groups on Facebook that have been created for second photographers or other wedding photography groups. Many areas have their own local groups. This is a great way to get to know some of the local photographers in your area and offer your services as an assistant.
• LISTEN. Photographers look for different things from their assistants. If you have the opportunity to work with someone, listen to what they want, remember that you are there to support it, not just for your portfolio. It is much more likely to call you back if you are comfortable with you.
One of the main obstacles when you’re trying to enter the wedding industry is your portfolio. The potential couples normally want to see the images you’ve already taken, but of course if you haven’t done a wedding yet, you have nothing to show!
Many aspiring photographers choose to participate in workshops to get some shots for the portfolio. The positive aspects of attending a seminar are various: many fellow photographers meet and frankly this is one of the most useful things you can do. You can take some great pictures for your portfolio without the pressure of a real wedding day and you can learn new techniques from the person holding the workshop.
The negative ones instead: a workshop does not show you the real way in which a marriage takes place: the pressure of times dictated by others or the contact with many people at the same time, the unrepeatability of the moments.
The most valid workshops are often expensive.
How to choose a workshop according to us:
First think carefully: what do you want to learn? Lighting, poses, marketing? Not all seminars are the same.
See if the photographers you admire style, offer seminars or private consultations.
Choose the workshops carefully based on your gaps in what you don’t already know. For example, if you are worried about working with couples, make sure your seminar includes some real guidance on the pose rather than letting you do your shots freely.
We have already said that the workshops do not give an idea of what it is to photograph a real marriage, so do not rely too much on those images to create your portfolio. Working with a model is NOT the same thing as working with a real couple. Surely, use the seminars to improve your skills, but don’t try to pass those photos as real weddings on your website, you will find yourself in difficulty when the “real” photographs will not match those of the seminar.
We might seem irresponsible in giving this advice, considering what we told you above … but jumping, risking a first time is certainly necessary to enter the world of marriages. Just be fair and honest.
Are you sure of your basic photography skills? Are you a photographer dedicated to other genres but need to increase your earnings? Do you know how your camera works inside and out? Are you able to work in different lighting conditions? Maybe then you are ready to try photographing a wedding. Then consider that at every wedding you will learn something new. Always!
Ok, if you’re thinking of trying, then there are some really important things to consider.
- Be completely honest with potential customers. Let it be known that you plan to photograph weddings too. When you get your first date with a couple, be completely honest about your skills and experience. The price of your service must reflect the fact that you are at your first experiences, make it clear to your potential customers. They will not create too high expectations, which would put you in difficulty especially. Your first couples will jump into the dark with you and it is right that they know it, you will do your best not to disappoint their trust.
- Consider hiring an assistant or a second photographer: even if you have to pay dearly, having a second pair of hands at your first marriage can be invaluable. They can identify the photos you miss, carry the bags, make suggestions and offer you moral support. They might even have more experience than you and save your life! Next time you will earn more! Meanwhile you will have a real wedding to show to your next customers.
- Get organized: this could be your first marriage but there is no excuse to go unprepared. Prepare a contract, make sure you have a complete schedule for the day, make sure you have the contract numbers of spouses and witnesses for any emergency, check the itinerary before reaching the places of the preparations, the ceremony and the reception, plan to arrive with a decent in advance (the photographer can in no way be late!) and take the time to settle in, become familiar with the couple and with the wedding location.
- Exercised, exercised, exercised: offer your services for free to friends to photograph some events such as parties, baptisms, graduations. This will give you a great work experience in churches or dark places, without the pressure of being at a wedding. Offer your couple a free engagement so you can practice how to work with couples and the camera.