Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of shooting many weddings and working with lots of industry professionals – so to say we have a couple tricks and tips up our sleeves might be an understatement. We’ve compiled our best tips on starting your wedding photography business to hopefully help make the leap from hobbyist to professional a little less daunting.
Here they are:
Build a Portfolio
Building a portfolio is the most important step in starting a photography business – it’s what makes people want to book you and shows potential clients your aesthetic, how you pose people, and how you edit. When you’re building your portfolio, make sure you include photos that reflect the kind of work you want to be doing. If you want to start shooting more elopements, then showcase that skill and save the artistic cityscapes and forest scenes for another medium.
Building out your portfolio also helps you gain experience shooting in all sorts of conditions, which is critical during a wedding. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to control the weather on the day of your shoot, so you need to make sure you’re comfortable shooting in dark, sunny, shaded, and stormy settings. A good editing process, like using streamlined presets, really helps to ensure consistency across a wide variety of lighting conditions.
Make Social Media Marketing a Priority
Similarly to building your portfolio, start using social media marketing to post the types of shoots you want to book. If you only want to book weddings, prioritize wedding and engagement session content on your feed. If your portfolio is lacking in areas you’d like to book more shoots, offer to do some sessions for free with friends or family to help bulk it up.
Styled or editorial shoots are also an amazing way to build your wedding portfolio, especially if you’re trying to nail down a certain aesthetic. Set up a styled shoot for the types of weddings you want to book and start using those images to post on social media, on your website, and in advertisements – couples who have a similar vision for their day will be attracted to you. And don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your personality come through! Sharing a bit about your hobbies or journey as a photographer lets prospective clients get to know you and feel like they have a personal connection.
Showing off the person behind the camera is also great for engagement on your business account, which in turn helps get your work in front of more users. Instagram prioritizes posts with high engagement and shares, so it’s very beneficial to put the extra effort into posts that will garner high engagement. To go a step further, like and comment on other users’ posts right after posting something yourself – this also gives you a boost in Instagram’s algorithm.
Get Wedding Experience by Second Shooting
Second shooting is very helpful when starting out. Not only will it add to your shooting experience, it also helps you see the nuts and bolts of the wedding day. Experience goes a long way in ensuring the wedding day goes as smoothly as possible – from getting the correct groupings together for family shots to the timing needed to get ready. Reach out to a wedding photographer you admire, or join local groups in your community, and put yourself out there as a second shooter. You may have to shoot for free to start, but the experience and the relationships you form are worth it.
Build your Pricing Structure and Website
There are a number of factors to think about when setting your pricing structure – like your experience, education, and equipment. You also want to make sure you consider things like travel fees and second shooters when putting together your pricing framework. After your pricing is nailed down, build a website that features important information about you and your services.
Being personal helps potential clients get a sense of your personality and can be the deciding factor whether or not they want to book you. Your photos are important, but the couple also knows that they’ll be spending a long time with you on their wedding day and during the days leading up to the event. Lastly, have a contact page that allows potential customers to easily reach out to you.
Find Your Editing Style
The way you edit your photos is incredibly important to potential customers when choosing their photographer. Try and find a style that speaks to you and be consistent. Often, your style of editing evolves and changes throughout your career – which is normal and part of growing as a photographer – but keeping a cohesive overall look and feel will help attract customers who also like that style.
Build Relationships with Other Wedding Vendors
Building relationships within the wedding industry is so important, especially with other vendors. The better relationship you have with the vendors you work with, the more likely they will be to recommend you to their clients. They are also more likely to share photos of your work on their websites and social media feeds, which helps increase the reach of your content and get your work in front of couples who are actively planning their weddings.
How do you start? Send an email, DM, or even start tagging them in your photos. If you’re comfortable, you can also start recommending vendors to your clients, and letting them know you’ve recommended them.
Ask for Testimonials
Once the wedding is all done and your couple is swooning over the photos you sent over, ask for a testimonial! Testimonial content is incredibly valuable on your website and on your social media platforms, and can help a potential client be persuaded to book with you instead of someone else. Make sure you have permission to use their names and photos with their testimonial for credibility.
Header photos by Laurken Kendall, Shelby Brion, and Olivia Markle.