There is a low barrier for entry to get started in the wedding photography business. Anyone with a DSLR, website, and a stack of business cards can call themselves a photographer and begin booking clients. That’s why you hear the horror stories of brides and grooms paying some person $800 and getting terrible photos of their special day. That doesn’t always happen, but it does far too often.
When I was just getting into the photography business, I remember putting a not so great, slightly blurry photograph of my friend’s wedding (of which I was a guest) that I took on my Costco-purchased, Canon Rebel up on my personal blog and people thought I was a wedding photographer. Luckily, before I jumped into the wedding photography business, I was mentored by a long-time photographer who allowed me to shoot over 20 weddings with him before I began booking my own.
So, if you are a photographer looking to jump into the wonderful world of weddings, there are a few things you must consider. First of all, what do you do if you don’t have any, or very little, wedding experience? I would highly advise that you look for second shooting jobs with a seasoned photographer before venturing out solo. There are some great sites where seconds can look for jobs or photography community groups with people looking for seconds all the time. My first two weddings on my own, I hired friends that had been in the business for years to be my second shooter. That way, I knew that if I somehow screwed up, I had a solid backup.
But sometimes new photographers may find themselves booking weddings by friends who have very low budgets and wouldn’t have a photographer otherwise or in a situation with little to no experience, but shooting a wedding nonetheless. That is how photographer Susan Stripling started her now enviable career as a sought after documentary style wedding photographer based out of NYC.
In this short video from B&H Photo, Susan gives us a few basic tips on starting a wedding photography business. Susan shares how she started – by shooting a few weddings and then deciding if wedding photography was a viable career for her. Her personal policy, which I found interesting, is not working with friends or family. She suggests that when first starting to look for acquaintances and friends of friends who may need a wedding photographer while building your portfolio. She gives one really important tip for brand new wedding photographers regarding finances. The video is only 3 minutes long, but it’s interesting to hear how a very respected photographer in our industry today got her start.
However you get your start in the wedding industry, gathering as much information and education as possible is a wise first step. I recommend reading some of these articles to help you along the way.