You may have just fallen in love with photography, or you’re a seasoned portrait photographer who knows their way around the camera. Either way, you’re here because the idea of becoming a professional wedding photographer sounds like a dream! But perhaps it’s a dream you just don’t know how to make a reality. Have no fear! Below are 5 steps I used to turn that dream into a reality, break into the wedding industry and become a wedding photographer.
They say practice makes perfect, and they are right! If you are just getting started, its important that we first focus on your technical skills and ensure you’re comfortable using your camera, directing subject, and editing.
Reach out to your family and friends and offer to take their holiday card photos. Maybe you’ve got high school aged children who need senior photos, or you could even practice on your pup (yes, I’ve done this before too!).
If you are new to an area and don’t have family and friends around, consider posting a “model call” on your social media, local Facebook group, or message board.
You comfortable with your camera now. Great! Now we need you to start showing what you want to attract. This is key to ensure you are able to start gravitating towards the wedding industry. So how do you go about taking photos for this?
One great way is to attend a styled shoot. This is basically a fake wedding put on by a planner or group that allows you to go practice. Check out Styled Shoots Across America for this.
Or you can put on your own styled shoot, which is what I first did! I just found a girl willing to model in a wedding dress (from a thrift store, or there are cheap ones on Amazon) with a bouquet. and Boom- wedding content!
Got pretty wedding images that prove you can walk the walk and talk the talk? Perfect! Now it’s time to get your foot in the door. The best way to do this is to start networking with other wedding industry professionals in order to get your name out there.
My favorite way of doing this is by attending industry events (like purchase a ticket to bridal show, or check out your local Rising Tide Society) and get out there and meet people! If there aren’t any events coming up, trying connecting with a local photographer and offer to take them out to their favorite lunch spot in order to introduce yourself and get to know your business.
Just know that the wedding industry is crazy busy during wedding season, so don’t let your feelings get hurt if you don’t hear back. You may need to change your approach and offer something more valuable in order to make those connections like free headshots for a local wedding planner and her team.
By now you’ve made a few connections in the industry. Now it’s time to find you some work. Start putting feelers out there for who might need a second shooter for their weddings.
Offer to do your first wedding for little to no money in order to gain the experience. While your area will alter the going rate for second shooters, it’s normal for beginners to be paid about $25/hr, where more experienced shooters will get about $50/hr.
More likely than not, those connections you’ve made will be able to connect you with some opportunities, but if you are still having trouble, once again reach out on local facebook groups or, my personal favorite, check out The Creative Community board by Honeybook. This message board is nationwide and is where locals often post when they are in need of a last minute second shooter.
Want some tips on becoming an amazing second shooter? Check out this post.
Now you’ve second shot a few weddings and understand what the day more-or-less feels and looks like. Plus you’ve got more wedding images to use in your method of “showing what you want to attract”.
Last but not least, it’s time to start telling the rest of the world that you are a wedding photographer looking for work. There are many traditional ways to advertise in order to get the word out like Facebook ads, Wedding Wire, or The Knot. This might be a great way to get started in your area.
However, don’t discount the free methods of tapping into your current non-wedding-industry network, continuing to nurture your wedding industry network (I got my first wedding lead from the photog I second shot for!) and putting in the work on social media (most of my leads come from Instagram now).
And that’s it! I hope these tips help you take the next steps towards becoming a wedding photographer. Want to see more photographer tips and tricks? Head to my Photographer education page!
Would you rather fast-track your career and really get moving? I’d love to help. Book your free call with me!