Getting experience is one of the toughest things that you will have to go through as a wedding photographer but it is something that you need to go ahead and do nonetheless. You have to understand that this is something that even the most successful wedding photographer you know right now must have gone through one way or the other. No one will be happy or willing enough to book you as their official or main wedding photographer if you don’t really have anything to show them in your portfolio. And on your end, you should not have the gall to book anyone professionally if you don’t really know what you are doing. It is something that goes both ways and it is a kind of responsibility that you should take upon yourself.
Although you might have the opportunity to attend photography school as well as undergo various forms of photography training somewhere in your career, it does not really quite match up with the knowledge and skill that experience will be able to give you. This might sound cliché but it really is quite true; experience really is your best teacher. And this is why you should go out of your way to actively seek it out whenever you have the chance to go ahead and do so.
Try to see if you can start off as an assistant to a more established and a more experienced wedding photographer.
If you would like to learn the ropes of the industry, you might as well do so from a reliable source who has been there and done that. Look up the well reputed and well established wedding photographers in your area and try to see if they will be willing to take you in as an assistant or as a protege. These opportunities are quite scarce and quite far in between so if you don’t find someone anytime soon, there is no need for you to get frustrated about it.
Take the time to reach out to people either online or in person until you hit something.
One thing to prepare for is the fact that you will not probably get paid very well for this and that’s alright. You are getting valuable training and experience in exchange for your time and services and that is something that money cannot buy at the end of the day.
Work on smaller projects.
You are not in a position to choose the projects that you would like to work on. At this point in time, for as long as it is something remotely related to photography in general, you should be more than happy to take it and jump on it. All of the areas in photography has something to teach you and something that you can take with you in your journey in becoming a professional wedding photographer someday.
Offer your services as a wedding photographer for free.
Something’s got to give some way somehow. Offer free coverage for your friends and close family relatives, just so that you can get your feet wet and so that you can have something to put into your portfolio to get you started in your wedding photographer career.
Before you take in any agreement or before you close any deal as a wedding photographer for anyone’s wedding, you need to make sure that you get to check things through ahead of time. You can’t just get into something without knowing exactly what you are getting into. This is usually a recipe for disaster and this is usually how things turn sour or take a turn for the worst when it all comes down to it.
Set the tone and foundation
You need to make sure that no matter what happens, you get to set the tone and a good foundation for a great working relationship with your clients. Although the deals you make as a wedding photographer will usually be one time deals and you will not likely work with these clients again, the amount of possibilities that can flourish out of deals like these are tremendous so you should be wise enough not to take anyone or anything for granted. Always make time to meet up with your potential clients and go over everything in detail.
Know what they need
There are some couples who require specific things to be observed by their official wedding photographer. You need to let them know that they need to map everything out to you so that you can be aware of these things and so that you don’t end up embarrassing them or yourself all throughout the process or all throughout the time that you are covering as their wedding photographer.
Figure out if they are religious or if they come from a certain culture where there are set or specific practices that need to be observed during the wedding. Couples will usually say things like these right out but then again, it is always important for you to make sure that you get to initiate the conversation. Be proactive, not reactive. Be ahead of the game. If you can be ten steps ahead of the game, then it will be even better.
Know the schedule ahead
There is also the issue of the schedule that you need to take care of. Some shoots such as the engagement shoot, the bridal shoot, the couple shoot, and so on and so forth are scheduled on a different day other than the actual or the main wedding day. You need to make sure that you go over this with your clients to make them aware of the other things that they need to prepare for as well. Some people might be a little too busy and that is why you need to give them enough heads up to go over things so that they can prepare for it and possibly clear their schedule as well during the process.
Lay out ground rules
Another reason why the client meeting is very important is because of the need for you to lay out the ground rules for the deal. Topics like pricing, breakdown of services or of inclusions in your packages as a wedding photographer are important and the client needs to know everything all throughout. Don’t leave any stone unturned.
In order for wedding photographers to be effective in their craft, they need to make it a point to really stay out of the way as much as possible when they are out shooting weddings. Staying out of the way or staying way below the radar can actually turn out to be so much more work than you would actually think. There is a whole science behind that, actually.
Although the fact remains that you will not really be able to perfect all of those things all in one go, it can help a lot if you at least get a few pointers to take note of that can help speed the process of learning up a bit for you. Try to observe what the other wedding photographers are doing during the weddings that you attend as a guest. This should give you a pretty good insight into how they operate and it will guide you and show you how you should do things as well.
Opt to use natural light, if it is possible for you to do so.
Most of the wedding photographers out there will always go for natural light over any other kind of lighting any time of the day and you should make sure that you do so as well. When you use flash photography, you end up startling the people that you are trying to photograph. It’s not something that comes out looking great in the photos that you are able to produce. More than that, it can also be blinding at times. Unless you would like to end up with batch after batch of pictures that have people squinting in them because of the flash, then you might as well proceed to tone it done a little and opt for the more visually engaging natural light.
Candid shots are something that are next to impossible to attain when you are using artificial light.
This is because it can only come off as something that is a little too obvious when you are shooting photos of people. They become a little too aware that they are being photographed. They can’t help it but to react in such a way wherein they attempt to compose themselves or arrange their hair and the like so that they can look good in the pictures. This is particularly true for women in general. Flash photography will give you away whereas natural light can give you the added advantage of not being noticed right of the bat.
Give people a break every now and then as well.
Try to capture objects or any other inanimate features of the wedding venue that may catch your eye one way or the other. Try to have a better look at flower arrangements or place settings or mantelpieces, and so on and so forth. These shots can turn out to look really great in your portfolio and more than that, it can give people a little more time to relax, knowing that they are not being scrutinized by your camera all of the time.
What wedding photographers should prepare for all of the time is the aspect of failing in the beginning. You will not really be able to come in with a bang. There will be so many challenges and so many failures that may come along the way that if you are unable to prepare yourself for it, you may end up being extremely disappointed and frustrated up to a point wherein you will end up quitting for all of the wrong reasons.
The truth of the matter is that wedding photographers will have to go through a lot of things before they will even get a chance to have some modicum of success somewhere along the way and that is something that you should also brace yourself for the moment that you decide to get into this one way or the other.
Not earn a lot at first
In the firs two years or so of your career, you will not really have a lot of clients and you will not earn a lot. You are going to have to find a way to make things sustainable so that you will be able to make it through the tough times one way or the other. During this particularly tough time wherein you don’t really have a lot of people booking you just yet, work on growing your portfolio by shooting personal projects on the side or by offering to assist other more experienced wedding photographers or by taking side jobs.
Take on anything and everything that might help you gain the kind of experience that you need as well as help you grow your portfolio at some point or so. Things will eventually happen for you. There are some unique instances wherein they are able to get the ball rolling the moment that the decide to become wedding photographers but it doesn’t happen to everyone. It is still important for you to make sure that you are able to go ahead and brace yourself for the worst of the worst at the end of the day.
Secure other source of income
And speaking of making things sustainable for you, you should make it a point to secure some other source of income other than what you are expecting to make out of your wedding photography career. Although you will have to wait out your first big break, you need to keep in mind of the fact that when it all comes down to it, your rent as well as the rest of all of your other bills will not. You can do away with all of the pressure as well as with the rest of the other worries that you might have by maintaining a job on the side. Getting a job will really take most of the edge away and more than that, at least you will have something to keep you busy all throughout the time that you don’t really have anything to do just yet. Keeping another job will also ensure that you get to expand your social circles so you have more chances to network.