11 Top Wedding Photographers share their advice on starting out

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The wedding photographer industry is a tough business to get into, however it is also a very passionate and rewarding role to play at any wedding. 11 full time professional wedding photographers share their tips and advice on how to get started and build a career as a professional wedding photographer.

Catalin Anghel

Catalin Anghel

www.anghelbrothers.ro

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
Educate yourself. After learning about photography(photo course) go and ask a photographer to be his/her assistant-for free. Do this at least 1 year.Shoot party’s for friends, theatre, any kind of gigs. Wherever you go take your camera. Learn the camera settings. Let the camera be your arm. If you think something in the next seconds you should know what settings you should have on camera to make it done.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Ask a price. Do not do it for free. If you followed the steps in my previous answer you should gain experience and you should ask for money for your job. Let your friends know that you are a photographer. They should be your first clients. Do not shoot for free even for them. Make a webstie page. Go online on Facebook, Instagram etc. Ask a few friends (couple) to take their photos. Rent a bride dress and a groom suit. After few of these sessions you should have a decent portofolio. Then share your name and advertise.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
That I would gain a decent income after 3 years in the industry. But that doesn’t matter if you are a passionate photographer.

Paul Fletcher Photography

Paul Fletcher Photography

www.paulfletcherphotography.co.uk

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
Advise your clients that in order to achieve the best results on their wedding day you need time to observe the day and follow the action naturally, so that you can capture the natural moments. Don’t take a long list of shots they want, be confident in your ability to capture all the moments as they unfold. To achieve the best results the drinks reception should be around 2 hours and you should allow your couple to spend around 45 minutes with their guests without any intervention fro you, weather permitting. That gives you time shoot the natural shots, photograph the room and detail before the wedding breakfast and find the best spots and best light at the venue. After 45 minutes make the group shots (10-12 max) your next task, include all the guests to continue their involvement and ultimate enjoyment. Next take the bridal party and groomsmen with you for the couple shoot, keep it light and fun, before ending with the couple shoot with a happy and contented couple. If you ensure your couple enjoy their day and they have confidence in your schedule, you’ll get better results from them on the day and they will remember it as an integral part of the success of their wedding day, as will the wedding guests! If you don’t have the luxury of a long drinks reception, question the bride’s and groom’s reasoning behind a short drinks reception and explain that their time with their guests will be shorter as a result. Cover yourself! Just be confident and be honest, which will help them with their plans.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Don’t shoot weddings for free, charge a fair fee for your time and be honest about the time you’ll take for the best results. A £500 wedding fee is a fair fee for a 9 hour wedding and possibly a further 15 hours editing when you’re starting out, after all that’s only £20 an hour including your expenses, travel time and admin. If £500 is too high, be prepared to be a little flexible, but only if things are in your favour, such as a nice venue, enough time allowed for photography and drinks, a good looking couple or just a happy couple who will give you good results you can use for your portfolio. You will be judged by the people you photograph and you’ll attract similar couples.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
I wish I’d taken a more reportage approach in the earlier days of my wedding photography, some 24 years ago, although I’ve taken a reportage approach over the last 12 years and my business has boomed! Shooting reportage relieves the pressure on you and allows you space and time to perform. You’ll enjoy your job more and you’ll be remembered for it!

Andrei Dumitrache

Andrei Dumitrache

www.andreidumitrache.ro

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
They should think before they hit the road how much wedding photography means to them and how much they want to do this. If they do everything with pleasure, will be dedicated and learn every day, then it will be better paid and will be increasingly appreciated and more enjoyable. If they want to enter this area just for the money, most likely it will be a failure.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Like any start it is not easy. I think they can make their small portfolio with photos from events where they go are a guest, friend events, relatives, even with several couple photo sessions. Then they can use these images to catch a few small weddings with small claims, try to do their best there and try to make their portfolio more solid from one event to another.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
3 things, how to win customer trust, how to ease your work using software albums, editing presets, and finally how to learn to put it in your own terms, not just to offer.

Samantha Pennini

Samantha Pennini

www.fotostradafacendo.it

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
At the beginning you will have to face many difficulties and disappointments. Don’t be discouraged: in time you will understand that these are professional and personal growth opportunities and will help to build more confidence in yourself. Meet other photographers, the comparison helps you to understand what isn’t good and will speed the time needed to apply the changes.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
If you’re still not sure about your skills, be honest about it with the couples and do the work for free, or ask them to cover just the expenses (if any).

If you are confident about your skills, try to work as a second to build a reputation and to refine even more your style. When you have a good portfolio, try and find a wedding planner that loves your work (that’s not easy, and it’s not your fault, it’s just an overcrowded market, and you’ll need to keep on trying AND help your luck).

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
There will forever be someone that will do the job for less.
That it’s expensive to be a photographer. So pay a lot of attention when choosing your kit.
Plus, you have to find your personal style. Your style is why couples choose you. So even if you love others photographers’ work, try to incorporate that into your personal style: that way, if you’re lucky, you’ll be chosen and won’t have to chase the couple to hire you.

www.estoydeboda.com

Agustin Regidor

www.estoydeboda.com

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
If you have the opportunity to work as a second photographer with a professional then take it with both hands.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Take wedding photographs of a family member or friend can serve as a start to build your experience and portfolio.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
For the most important customers it is a good portrait (perching or stolen). A good time is important but a good portrait will end in a “frame”.

Nabis Wedding Photographers studio

Nabis Wedding Photographers Studio

www.nabisphotographers.com

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
Watching carefully how the professional wedding photographers work, supporting them in the work and then try to evelop an own photographic style. The important thing is to always follow professional ethics.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Promote their selves as much as possible via web, portals, social networks trying to avoid working for free.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
To have empathy with the client (it’s an important quality for the wedding photographer), to be constant and determined in their work.

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
I would say it’s important to invest all your time, effort & energy into learning and improving. You have to live and breath it. Constantly shoot, experiment, break rules, set challenges/goals and most of all enjoy what you’re doing. I would also try and offer your services as a second shooter with some established wedding photographers which will be an eye opener for sure!

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Well everybody has to start somewhere, and it can be very tough for a new business to succeed. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t build in a day, so you have to be very patient, and make sure you can support yourself if the bookings don’t come in.

I would recommend building up your portfolio and experience in the field as a second shooter… then use that to market yourself. Price is important but it’s certainly not a case of ‘undercutting your competitor’ to get the job. I always remember the story of a chap who tried to sell his 2nd hand lawn mower for £10.. it was listed for months and he couldn’t sell it… so one day he decided to re-list the item for £100, it sold the same day!

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
I wish I had a better understanding of the magnitude of running a business. It takes more than just being a good photographer to run a successful photography business. You have to be so much more… Obviously you need the skills as professional photographer, but you’ll also find that you need knowledge in all areas of business. You invest time and money into marketing & advertising, sales, customer relationships, web design & SEO, office based duties, having people skills, time management, finance & accounting skills and so much more.

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
Shoot for free. Get in with other wedding photographers and ask to accompany them. Go to social events and do not take the camera, observe what is happening, see scenes of action and spontaneous moments, this will help you when you are camera in hand.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
Shoot with affordable value to their work and little below market. Try to associate with a partner, you being the third or second shooter. They pay and you learn while on the job.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
You will to annoy someone; You will miss important moments of your personal life; You will sometimes feel unappreciated; You will be willing to give up but you have to keep going and follow your heart.

Aaron Storry

Aaron Storry

www.storry.co.uk

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
Make mistakes – Learn from them! When I first started out I shied away from tripping up and making mistakes – but as I’ve progressed, I’ve adapted to enjoy the learning experience. I think it’s critical in order to progress creatively. I never set out to fail but not being afraid and continually pushing things is crucial to the development of your creative abilities. Learning what works and what doesn’t comes from trial and error – once something is locked in you can perfect and refine it. Since starting out as a professional it’s like I’ve gone back to school, once you get addicted to pushing your creative abilities you’ll be hooked. it’s a powerful force.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
When I first got going I shot anything for anybody, anytime. Unlike many of my peers I never second shot, and I learned by trial and error, I think that’s the best way – and hustling for the early bookings has put me into good habits. Start out by offering your services to friends at a big discount, be open and honest – explain that you’re going to try your best and work from there. Slowly at first, and then picking up momentum – if you stick at wedding photography and find your own style you will be rewarded with enquiries.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
I wouldn’t change much, I think everything that I didn’t know has been an important learning milestone in finding out. The biggest of them all was creating my own style. Developing my own thing and shooting from the heart has played a big role in my success.

Cristiano Ostinelli

Cristiano Ostinelli

www.ostinellicristiano.com

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
My advice to wedding photographers starting out would be to work only moved by passion, a strong and true passion.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
They should show to the customers their portfolio that should include many of their works and not only wedding works.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
Well…. that, The most important thing is to develop and grow your own style without being disheartened by criticism not constructive.

Alexa Poppe Wedding Photography

Alexa Poppe Wedding Photography

www.alexapoppeweddingphotography.com

What advice would you give to wedding photographers starting out?
I highly suggest to get experience first as an assistant with an experienced
wedding photographer. Even if you think you are an experienced photographer, with weddings you will face entirely new challenges and after all it’s not a place to practice your skills as there is no space for mistakes. Your photographing a couple’s lifetime memories which can’t be repeated in case something goes wrong.

Gaining experience in the wedding industry also gives you more confidence to deal with your future clients. I also highly suggest to double up your equipment, get a spare camera, spare batteries etc. There is nothing worse than equipment failure!

Leave twice as much time to get there, you never know if you get stuck in traffic etc. Arriving early gives you a nice relaxed start into the day and you can have a look around the venue for possible shots.

What tips do you have for getting those first bookings without having to do it for free?
It’s easy to get trapped in the ‘cheap photographer’ category if you keep your prices low to get those first bookings. It will take a long time to push your prices up afterwards as you created a client base targeted at that low price range. It’s better to start somewhere in the middle. Do some research what other photographers charge in your area and offer an average price, but throw some extras in like free prints, albums or a complimentary engagement shoot. Build up a strong portfolio and webpage by photographing family and friend’s weddings first. The most important is to gain a good reputation, make your name known. Try and get featured in magazines and blogs. The more your name pops up, the more confidence your clients get to book you.

What did you wish you knew before starting out?
It’s a very competitive business as mentioned above. It’s not just photographing , editing and meeting clients. You will spend a lot of time on your online marketing. Also you will often work when your friends and partner are off as most weddings are at weekends and bank holidays. But if you enjoy capturing moments and when you finally get there, it’s one of the most rewarding jobs. Every time I get good feedback from a couple it puts a big smile on my face. I don’t just see it as a photoshoot, but recording memories, which last for a lifetime.

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