Start Marketing And Never Stop
photo by zeljkosantrac via iStock
To get started in wedding photography, you obviously need to have the skills and talent to take great photos.
However, you can be the most talented wedding photographer in the world, but if people dont know about you, your business wont last long.
In addition to having a killer portfolio that highlights your best work and a website thats easy to find and navigate, you need to spend time each day reaching out to potential clients.
photo by via iStock
Social media is clearly an excellent avenue for doing this. Whether its making YouTube videos to demonstrate your expertise, creating targeted Facebook ads to promote your services in your area, or simply engaging with people on Twitter or Instagram, the more you put yourself out there, the more likely people will be to call you to inquire about working for them.
Your engagement with potential clients cant end with social media, though.
Word of mouth marketing is essential for building your business, so take time to invest in fostering relationships that can lead to additional work.
photo by stanciuc via iStock
For example, when your work for a client is done, offer them a small gift for referring a friend to you. Likewise, chat with other professionals in the industry and see if you can work out an arrangement for throwing business one anothers way.
Though marketing might not come to you naturally, its a skill that must be developed, and your approach must be multi-modal.
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All photographers tell stories through their imagesbut professional wedding photographers have the unique opportunity to tell couples love stories and capture the memories they will cherish forever. Interested in pursuing a career in professional wedding photography, whether locally or as a travel destination wedding photographer? We provide everything you need to know in the following guide.
Build Your Wedding Photography Portfolio
As you get some experience shooting weddings, youll need a place to display those photos on your website. A WordPress plugin like Envira Gallery allows you to create beautiful wedding photography portfolios and display them on your site.
For more information on building your wedding photography portfolio, check out our step by step tutorial to create a photography portfolio in WordPress.
Need some inspiration? Check out these 11 best wedding photography portfolios for inspiration.
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What You Can Learn From Another Photographer
Second shooting for a seasoned photographer was an exciting experience for me. It was from working with him that I got to practice everything I knew about photography. So much of photography is learned by doing and I got to do so without the pressure of being the main photographer. Understanding concepts of photography is one thing, but putting it into practice is another.
Going into my first job as a second shooter, I knew my stuff when it came to photography. In fact, I was already teaching it. But shooting with a seasoned professional, I learned how to leverage that knowledge and put it into practice. He provided me with go to settings for different situations and taught me new techniques as well.
Having access to gear
One of my favorite parts about working with an experienced photographer was the access to his gear I had. When I first started out, I shot with a Canon 40D, which I bought with a grant I received to develop a digital photography program for a city of Los Angeles art center. But I had very few lenses AKA one kit lens. But I slowly built my gear up and because I had access to so many lenses, I knew what I wanted. I also learned what the most essential lenses were in an event/wedding photographers kit.
What else did I learn?
Tips For Setting Your Wedding Photography Prices
Knowing how to price your wedding photography package is tricky.
If you charge too low, you miss out on your worth and value as a photographer. The couple might also see this as a lack of confidence and judge your work accordingly.
On the other hand, if the price is too high, people could choose to go elsewhere.
Pricing has nothing to do with your camera, education or experience. It all comes down to confidence. Confidence that you can take the best photographs for that value.
People will spend their set budget. This way, they feel they are getting the best photographer for their budget.
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Build Your Social Network
Networking is essential to starting a business. People are the secret to any business. Build your network connect with people online and offline. Encourage and reward people who refer new business to you. Your supporters, fans, and champions will only help you increase your business. Appreciate them.
A Wedding Photographers Secrets For Capturing Details
Capturing the small details is a very important area of wedding photography.
The wedding rings are the most important part of the ceremony. There are many ways photographers have captured these bands over the years.
Other details like close-ups of corsages, flowers and all the small parts that add flair to the wedding. Looking at the features of the clothing, for example, the shoes or even jewellery.
The small elements add to the overall scene and are a nice way to break up the wider shots of the guests and the location.
How To Market Your Photography Business
Now comes the most important part of starting a photography business: landing clients. To do this, you need to market your services.
But before you start marketing your photography business, it helps to have a portfolio of work to showcase your skills. And the easiest way to display your photography portfolio is by building a professional website.
To learn more about building your photography website, check out our guide, How to Make a Website.
Once you have an online portfolio, you can start marketing your photography business.
Begin by posting on social media and reaching out to people in your network to ask if they know anyone who may be interested in your services. Its not uncommon for a photographer’s first few clients to be people they know.
Also, make sure that you always have some business cards in your bag to give to people you meet.
Once youve done these steps, start networking in Facebook groups related to your target market. For example, if youre a wedding photographer in New York, you might want to join New York Weddings.
You could also attend trade shows and events in your target market. For example, if youre a pet photographer you could find many potential clients at dog shows.
Develop A Basic Photography Business Plan
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of creating a photography business is to know how to actually start.
A photography business plan is the first logical step to setting up a strong base camp that will allow you to build up your business without feeling overwhelmed.
What goes into your plan may vary, but at a minimum, you may want to include:
- Executive summary: You can start your photography business plan with an executive summary that defines what your general objectives are as well as your key factors of success.
- Company overview: Do an outline of the organizational structure of your business according to the terms of the area you are in. Will you be the sole proprietor? Will it be a limited liability company? What will be the business structure? Do you need business licenses? Will you have a business partner? What type of business will you run?
- Products & services overview: Its important to create a detailed description of the products, services and prices youll be offering. This will help you to better navigate the many different client requests that might show up.
- Audience analysis: Understand who your target audience is and what channels will be most effective to reach them.
- Competitive analysis : Have a look at the competition operating in your market locally, identify their strengths and in what ways you can differentiate yourself from them.
- Operations plan: Think about operations what are the day-to-day logistics of running your photography business?
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Deliver Photos On Time
If your contract states how long it will take for clients to receive their pictures, make sure to fulfill that contractual obligation. For some wedding photographers, this can range from a few weeks to even as long as three months. This depends on your workflow, although ensure that the client understands how long you work on post-processing and delivery.
Reach Out To Engaged Friends And Acquaintances
When you are starting out, you need to land that first wedding somehow. After you have gained some experience second shooting, and you feel comfortable venturing out on your own, spread the word.
Do you have a former friend from college who recently got engaged? Ask if you can take their engagement photos, and mention that you have been working with other photographers to build a portfolio. They may want someone with more experience, but if you have been second shooting you can direct them to your portfolio and let them decide for themselves.
I have found that a large percentage of my clients who initially contacted me about engagement shoots also booked me for their weddings. Most people want a cohesive style, so if you can lock in the engagement session thats a big step towards landing the wedding.
Also, consider having at least one wedding package that includes the engagement session. I offer this in my highest package and I always suggest this to couples when they contact me about an engagement shoot.
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Create A Great Wedding Portfolio Website
Being a professional wedding photographer, one of the most important things that you cannot neglect is having a good wedding portfolio website. For a creative professional, not having a website today pretty much means next to no business. Sharing your best images on your website makes it easy for the potential clients to view your wedding photography business work. Making it easy for the site visitors to contact you is very important. Keep your wedding portfolio website simple, fresh and concise. No one has the time to deal with complicated websites.
In case you are just starting out as a professional wedding photographer, you should check out these wedding photography portfolios, before building one for yourself.
Use Your Keyword On Your Home Page
Pretty often, a client will come to me and say something like:
I really want to be found for Knoxville wedding photographer. But I dont show up AT ALL!
Ill console them. Let them know we can fix it. And then take a glance at their website only to find that nowhere on their website have they written the phrase Knoxville wedding photographer. This is a problem.
You cannot rank for a keyword you dont include on your website.
Let me say this a different way: Google doesnt understand that you are a Knoxville wedding photographer if you dont say so.
Thats why Step 2 in our getting started with SEO steps is to write your most important keyword somewhere on your home page.
Ideally, you would put it as a heading near the top of the page.
I also highly recommend weaving that most important keyword into a paragraph on the home page.
This is generally easily done in an About Me type paragraph, where you can say something like I am a. .
Heres an example from one of my students:
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Should You Work For Another Photographer For Free
That depends. I have brought on interns before that I did not initially pay. I am very generous with my time with interns both on and off the job. When I first bring one on, I start off by taking them along to jobs in which neither myself nor the client would normally require an assistant. I dont really need their help, they are there to learn. After shadowing me / assisting me for some time, when jobs did come that did had a budget for an assistant, they were always paid.
Although I can not say for certain that all photographers would be as generous with their time as I am, I can imagine many would be happy to have an assistant volunteering their time. Even if they do not train you, you can learn a lot by observing.
You Need To Be Different
Why is someone going to hire you if your photos are identical to other wedding photographers out there? So, you have to make yourself stand out, which comes in the form of unique photography.
Practice makes perfect try taking snaps at home and developing a style of wedding photography thats different to whats already out there. This gives you a unique selling point, which makes your service more attractive.
Try to experiment with wedding and engagement poses as it can differentiate you from the rest, a good wedding photographer knows everything about creative poses.
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Keep Learning And Growing
There is no end to learning as the photography business and marketing rules keep evolving. Read books, watch tutorials, take classes, workshops, and seminars, which will help you be better at your work one small step at a time.
We recommend the Wedding Photography Training System by SLR Lounge for great wedding photography education.
Check out this article on tips to improve your wedding photography
Take Lots Of Pictures Then Take Some More
Big surprise becoming a photographer involves taking pictures. But you dont need to wait until you know the difference between shutter speed and aperture camera settings before you start capturing images. Youll get off auto mode eventually. Even shooting on auto mode can help you practice a few things like timing, for example, and composition .
It is really only through massive amounts of trial and error that you will start to improve, so get going.
Tip: As you snap these early pictures, take a look and pinpoint what you like about them, and what you dont this will help give you some direction as you continue to grow your skills.
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Create A Detailed Action Plan
Everything from your chosen venue to the time of year will affect your wedding photographs. If youve got your heart set on certain shots, like couples portraits at sunset or a sparkler send-off photo, then you need to talk it through with your photographer.
More often than not, your photographer will offer a pre-wedding shoot to help you both gauge what kind of shots you want. It makes taking the photos on your big day that bit quicker and more efficient.