How To Start A Wedding Photography Business

So you have a camera, and you would love to earn enough to buy a few more lenses. So you make a few business cards and start announcing you’re open for business. People start telling you the easiest way to make money is to shoot a wedding. Why not? Sounds like fun.

Think again.

Wedding photography is one of the most difficult niches in the photography industry.

  • You must deal with dozens of different personalities, all in a highly stressful situation.
  • Taking a perfect picture of a bride and groom – one in the whitest white, one in the blackest black – can be exceedingly difficult. Especially because you’re very likely going to have to capture the two of them outside in the sunshine, and inside in almost pure dark conditions.
  • You cannot control the situations – you have to go with the flow. You have a few short hours to capture hundreds of amazing images.
  • You may be expected to be in 2 (or 3, or 4…) places at one time. How are you going to control the situation so you’re not stressed?
  • Guests travel from all over the world for this one day event. There are no do-overs.

Which is why as a professional wedding photographer who photographed hundreds of very high-end weddings over the years, I cringe when people say to get their start in weddings.

If you have the desire to start a wedding photography business, here are my suggestions.

  • Spend a year photographing, well everything. Take on a bunch of family portraits. Shoot inside your studio, and outside at the beach (park, downtown area, etc). Get used to shooting in many different types of circumstances.
  • Find out who your top wedding photographers are in your area. Call them up and offer to take them to lunch. Then offer your services – free of charge – for an upcoming wedding. Be willing to do everything from carry the bags, to setting up lighting equipment. Watch carefully and learn
  • Repeat the above step as many times as you can.
  • Start small. Don’t offer to do a huge 10 hour event for 250 people. Instead, create a package perfect for a very small wedding. If you can do several 2-3 hour events that take place in a church, a restaurant, or possibly a private residence, you’ll learn a ton and not have the stress of moving from place to place.
  • Sit down after every wedding and critically look at your photographs and at the way the day unfolded. What could you do to make the photographs better? What made the day stressful to you, or to your clients? What can you do to improve?

I love weddings. It’s not just about showing up and snapping a few images. It’s about taking full control and turning your clients day into their best day ever.

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clientexperience@todaysgrowthconsultant.com' About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • Veronica Salazar

    Lori, my husband and I live in a very small community, with not too many weddings happening. The wedding photographer that used to live in town just moved out, and now she has changed from wedding photography to family and baby portraits (we are facebook frinds). My husband and I have been doing portraits for family and friends since 2009, and we have invested a lot from our savings in training and perfecting our craft. We did two wedings and one bridal already for friends (these were a gift to our friends), and we know how important it is to price our photography right (we larned that in two of your books, BTW). I don’t see any other way to start shooting more weddings than to post an ad on Craigslist, but my husband dreads that option because he’s afraid that we will attract the wrong clientele. I told him that in order to do some “filtering” we need to start somewhere with a low price package of say $1250, instead of therockbottom $350 package that some photographers offer, but he’s still reluctant to use Craigslist. Is it there any other option we could use? I’d love to hear back from you.

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    Hi Veronica

    I agree with your pricing – the $1250 is a good place to start. If you start too low, and $350 is definitely too low, you’ll be trying to make up for it for years to come. But again, you do have to look at your numbers and make sure the $1250 is right for you as well.

    Now, for the marketing part, Craigslist can work and you can try it. I would also look for other options. How about your hometown newspaper? Or community newsletters? Or a bridal guide for your area? There should be some other form of “news” for your area. See if you can get in on that. Yes, it will cost more that Craigslist. But one client should pay for it – depending on the price.

    Lori