As you may have already read here, at Virtual Photography Studio, there’s something of a paradox to being a professional wedding photographer. On the one hand, most people who go into the business start out from sheer passion (or even by accident, in some cases). But then, as they progress, the question arises: can you make it big in this field, or should you stick to your day job? And if you do become a professional wedding photographer, will the transition be subtle and gradual, or should you expect to move up in leaps and bounds? In an attempt to shed some light on these pressing questions for most newbie pros, we’ve gathered up some nuggets of wisdom from the pros. Here are the most important tips on how to switch from the status of amateur to professional wedding photographer.
1. Don’t lay all your eggs in one basket
Accept the notion that you may not become a superstar wedding photog overnight. Deal with it – and do so in the most tangible and palpable ways. What does this mean? A great many things. For one thing, don’t abandon your personal projects, in hopes that you’ll be freeing up time for wedding shoots. In the beginning, these gigs will rather trickle in, instead of gushing in torrents. Along the same lines, yes, do stick to your day job at first, but do so with a plan. Set a deadline for yourself: you need to be making a certain amount of money from photography alone, by a given date. And that’s the date when you’re going to quit and officially switch from amateur to professional wedding photographer.
2. Advertise yourself
Word of mouth and recommendations for friends are a great way for landing wedding shoots in the beginning, but we assume you only have so many friends. In time, that source of clients will run dry and you, too, will be left high and dry. To preempt that from happening, work on building up your reputation. This doesn’t mean you need to start running full page ads in the local papers (unless you’re sure you’re that good already). But it does mean you should have an online portfolio, with a small, yet impressive selection of your work. Why not also set up a Facebook fan page, while you’re at it? Have a smartphone? Then you definitely need to be on Instagram, too – you may find it beneath your artistic prowess, but your friends are probably on the platform already.
3. Invest wisely to turn from amateur to professional wedding photographer
In the beginning, it’s likely that money will be tight, so refrain from splurging, no matter how cool that new Canon lens kit looks. Borrow lenses, beauty lights, tripods, and whatever other gear you can from fellow photographer friends – but don’t keep it for months on end and, whatever you do, don’t break it. Rent gear, if it’s available as an option. Rent studio time and consider working with some TFCD models to get your creative juices flowing and to enrich that portfolio.
4. Keep learning
All the great masters of photography did, from Bresson to Leibowitz, so you should do it, too. Your transition from amateur to professional wedding photographer is not over when you think you’ve got it all figured out. In fact, that’s likely when your career is over. Look at how fast technology is evolving, how regularly Photoshop is updated, and how many new lenses are released each month. Check out new seminars and workshops, know about the trainers’ experience and background. In photography, the learning process is never really over – and that’s one of the best things about this job!
5. Stay positive
We’ve written about the importance of staying strong in the face of negativity and criticism before. It’s incredibly important, so don’t you ever forget it. While constructive criticism can be a great way to enrich your skills, outright bashing is always detrimental. Don’t let the trolls get you down and you will do just fine!