I couldn't think of a better time to write this post while everything is fresh in my mind on what I've learned venturing into the world of wedding photography. I want to share five things I have learned that helped me not only become a better photographer, but grow my business. Wedding photography isn't for everyone and I know that. When I first started I wasn't sure if it would be for me but I quickly learned that it was! I hope that you find this post useful as you either start or have just started on your own photography journey.
1. BE A SECOND SHOOTER.
There is really no better way to get your feet wet to the world of wedding photography besides second shooting! If you really are ready to dive into the industry take the time to follow along with an already established photographer to help show you the ropes. I'll never ever forget my first wedding, which was as a second shooter! What I learned that day alongside my friend Nicole Conner was invaluable. That day was either going to show me that I had what it takes or completely turn me off to the whole idea of being a wedding photographer. It's safe to say I fell in love with my first experience but that might not be the case for everyone. Second shooting gives you the opportunity to not only "job shadow", but to put your camera to real life use on a wedding day without the pressure of being the lead photographer.
With that being said, even if you don't photograph the wedding and serve as an assistant, that experience will serve you SO well going forward on your own journey. If you aren't sure where to start and you WANT to second shoot or assist another photographer, start with local Facebook groups! There are assistants and second shooters needed everywhere, you just need to look in the right places.
2. EDUCATE YOURSELF.
I can't stress enough how important it is to invest in your education, even as a creative entrepreneur. What I've learned on my own photography journey is that if I want to be taken seriously, I need to take my learning and growth seriously. I knew for me personally that meant I need to invest in my education. I have taken posing courses, editing courses, business courses on my own journey that have been instrumental in my growth up to this point. Do your homework and make sure before you buy that the course you are purchasing is the right fit for you. Read the reviews, follow that person on social media to establish that trust. There are free tools out there but I truly believe if you want to stand out and really make this a go as a photographer, your education is important and worth the investment.
3. ARRANGE A STYLED SHOOT AND KEEP PRACTICING.
Below you are going to see some pictures from a styled shoot I put together with a local florist (Elixir Cafe and Floral Design) and model before I ever ventured into the world of wedding photography. It was beyond simple, but it was beautiful. It allowed me to play with my camera and settings stress free, working to develop my style and look I wanted going forward with my work. I also needed material to put on my website! This allowed me to do that.
Meet Nancy, the incredible florist who helped me with this shoot!
4. DEVELOP AND ESTABLISH STRONG COMMUNICATION SKILLS.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of client communication. It is everything. Your clients are not only paying you for quality images, but an amazing experience. It doesn't matter what you are getting paid for the wedding, treat it as if it's a million dollar wedding and will make or break your career! Be sure to communicate with your clients on the time you need to photograph what you need (details, portraits, etc.) Timelines are everything. Be sure to have one in place with every couple you work with. Part of my wedding experience with my couples is going over the timeline and creating something that will allow them to enjoy their day, but also enough time to capture everything on their wish list!
5. IT AIN'T EASY.
Here's the thing and I don't want to sound harsh, but this isn't for everyone. Weddings are a lot of work and anyone who tells you otherwise is bat crazy. It isn't just showing up to photograph the wedding, it's the months leading up getting to know your clients, scheduling the engagement session, shooting the wedding, post wedding communication, editing, delivering, and the list goes on. Does everyone deserve a shot at trying to become a photographer and make a go of it? Heck yeah! There is room for all of us, but it's not for everyone. The list of tips I've included on this blog post barely touch the surface of how to prepare for your first wedding. I'm still learning and will be learning until the day I'm done being a photographer. It's never done and I hope to always learn and grow on this journey. You need to know and understand your equipment, you need to understand lighting, and the list goes on.
Remember that a wedding day is a once in a lifetime event for many. Please give yourself the time to learn and develop your style and skill before saying yes and feeling unprepared and ultimately delivering images that your client will be unhappy with. I firmly believe in second shooting/assisting like I stated from the beginning of this post. While I believe in giving things your all and sometimes diving it head first, I don't feel that way for putting someone's wedding day in your hands without the knowledge and skill to deliver beautiful images.
Below you are going to see a handful of images from my first wedding (as a second shooter!). As you can see, I had spent the proper time finding my style and skill behind my camera. I knew how to shoot in full manual mode and when I showed up for wedding, I felt more than prepared. It was the most amazing feeling in the world and something I will never forget!
I'd love to hear from you on what you have learned from venturing into the world of wedding photography! We all start somewhere and like I said before, there is room for all of us, but it's not for everyone.