Photography is a universe filled with all kinds of intriguing genres and wedding photography has been the most popular out of all in terms of its flexibility to run as a business and keeping your hobby alive. This is because wedding photographers have been earning an average of $50,000 a year, not bad at all when it comes to a niche filled by amateur photographers, part-timers and freelancers.
It is though, not as easy as it sounds. It’s a big responsibility. Wedding photography involves hours of efforts, scheduling, traveling, and photo editing. Being aware of what you have to do is vital.
Here are some tips and tricks to get started.
1. Prepare your Shot List
A shot list is a log of all the shots you want to include. You have to know what you are going to shoot. Shots like ‘Bride having her hair styled and makeup applied‘, ‘Groom getting ready with groomsmen‘, ‘Family Portraits‘ are some of the shots that you should never miss out! You don’t really need to prepare your own shot lists. Wedding photography is not new, it has been done many times before. Teamwedding.com has made this really nice shot list that you could print out. Be sure to check it out, and have it printed! We have also made an infographic that can be found here.
2. Scout the Location (Attend the Rehearsal)
Most photographers won’t bother with this considering that they really don’t have time to scout the locations. However, it makes everything so much easier. You should visit the locations so that you could come well-prepared before the big day. Time is money; it is not a crime to charge an additional fee for a site-visit but be transparent about it. Include location scouting in your invoice and let your clients know that you are charging for it.
3. Be Prepared (Charge your Batteries!)
Being well-prepared will help you a lot during the big day. That is why visiting the location a day or two before shooting is very important so you’ll know how things are going to go. There are tons of things that can go wrong, so make a list of what you need to prepare like emptying your memory card, charging the battery and so on. Avoid making silly mistakes like not having enough batteries during the shooting day.
4. Set the Expectation in Advance (Play Safe)
Do not go overboard with promises even if you think that you could deliver. As a wedding photographer, being bold is part of the fun but you also need to be realistic about what you can deliver. Set the expectation with the couple; show them your work and your photography style so that they will know what to expect from you. Show them that you are very passionate about your work, tell the truth and be transparent about the quality that they are getting.
5. Remember; You are a business!
If you are charging for the event, make sure that they know and agree upon how much you are charging. This is very basic in business. Do not be afraid to become professional about your business dealing. It is always recommended to charge at least 40% upfront payment so that they are committed for your service.
6. Invest on Lighting(s)
As a beginner photographer one thing that we tend underestimate or overestimate is ‘Lighting’. No, you can’t fix it in post. There is no software on earth that can imitate professional lighting effectively. Having said that, while it may take years of hard work and practice; as a beginner you should invest on simple lighting set up that can give you a big impact like Rotolight Neo 2. Here is a video by Jason Lanier with his hands-on review of Rotolight Neo. We highly recommend you to check it out.
7. Set file formats to RAW
If you haven’t done it yet, make sure that you change your camera settings to capture RAW photos. But isn’t RAW photos for professionals? No! It’s not. In fact, even if you are a completely new at handling cameras, it will save your life more than a Pro-photographers’ life. Imagine things like underexposed photos; all of these can be fixed with RAW images easily compared to the standard JPG format.
8. Photo Editing : Use Presets
Obviously we are going to include this one especially when are in the business of selling presets. Regardless of what people are saying, adjustment presets are going to make your post editing work so much easier. Seriously, are you going to manually edit each and every photo? Of course not. Even if you are going to; any wedding preset will cut your editing work by 75%.
9. Expect some things to go Wrong but Stay Positive and Have Fun!
Ask any wedding photographer, when was the last time a wedding coverage went smoothly from the start to finish. Never. Things go wrong all the time. It had been looking like it was going to be a good sunny day until it rains, The best man forgets the wedding ring, the bride can’t remember the vows, the flower girl goes missing. These can happen, but hey, it is a wedding. People laugh about it. Don’t take things too seriously. Yes, you are there with big responsibility but remember that your clients including every each one of their family member are there to have fun and so should you! When things go wrong, don’t get panicked. Always try to improvise and learn from your experience. It’s good thing to learn how to shoot photos during rainy day, how to adjust the lighting to make the most of bad situations. These will come with experience.
10. Build Your Portfolio
Treat every client as an investment to build your portfolio. How do you convert potential customers into sales? You show them your previous work, that’s how it is. Every project is an investment to build up your career. Check out Josevilla; he shot the wedding of Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas. What do you think is going to happen next? He’s going to get even more mega projects; who wouldn’t want to hire the photographer who covered Nick Jonas’s wedding?
Summing it all up…
The best thing about being a wedding photographer is the freedom to express yourself without being too attached to certain principles or standards. You are not dealing with big companies like McDonalds or KFC. Your clients are happy people who are going to get married and as long as you can capture their beautiful memories; they will be happy. Loosen it up a bit, don’t necessarily pressure yourself. Enjoy the moments and have fun.