Get some experience first before even thinking about launching a career in wedding photography
You simply can’t do something professionally if you’re not competent enough for the job and experience will give you that so-called competence. If someone asks you to cover their wedding and you know full well in your heart that you cannot promise excellent results simply because you have not done anything like that before, just say no. Timing is everything and there is always a right time and place for that. Get yourself trained and get some real world experience first before you even go through the motions of launching a career in wedding photography.
Invest in all of the right kind of gear to arm yourself for the job
Your gear is your main money making machine. Make sure that you invest in it and make sure that you are able to invest well. You need to start off with a pair or so of really great DSLR cameras. And we say “cameras”, and not “camera”, because you are going to need more than one if you are ever going to make it in this industry. You will thank us for this precious piece of advice when you are in the middle of a wedding shoot and no good reason, your main camera decides to bail out on you. You are welcome, in advance.
Always initiate constant communication with your clients
You need to make sure that you are really able to manage the expectations of your clients and talk things through with them. Ask them what they expect out of your service and at the same time, tell them honestly the things that you will be able to provide for them. Do away with the sugarcoating and the flowery words. Clients prefer it when you give it to them in black and white and when you go straight to the point. Beating around the bush when it comes to client communication will get you nowhere.
Bring a team together to help you push the project through
You need a great team of people (preferably professionals like yourself) to really help you pull off a huge wedding photography job. It requires a lot of hours and tasks to cover and it is simply too much for one man to do all by himself. If you can’t afford a team on your payroll just yet, make it projects based and pay them only per gig.
Look for windows of opportunity wherein you can up-train yourself
Always look for ways for you to be able to improve your skills whether it is in the form of being a protégé to a more established photographer or attending a photography workshop that arms you with new tips and tricks that you can try out in your career. Never turn down an opportunity to learn.
Get a contract drawn up for you by a lawyer
Get your business covered legally at all times. Have a standard contract drawn up to cover you enough so that when risks do happen in the off-chance, you will be able to more or less mitigate them and you won’t end up closing shop because of it.
Initiate rapport and small talk with the people you are filming. People look better in their photographs when you talk to them instead of just clicking away silently and not acknowledging their presence. It also makes the entire shoot so much more enjoyable and less tedious when there is a certain rapport between the people being filmed and the photographer. It’s just like any other industry out there. People skills are required. Just be friendly and amiable and things will flow quite naturally. Chat them up in between takes. Who knows, you may even be able to network new clients through them. Keep your options open at all times.
Play around with the composition and angles to add variety to your shots
Wedding photography requires a certain level of creativity and affords the photography certain levels of artistic liberties to actually be able to try new things that he may never have tried before. Read up on blogs of other professional photographers and look out for the ideas that may inspire you to do better and to try new things in your photo shoots. Also see if you can have the bride and groom outline the perimeters of your artistic liberties for you.
Make the bride your priority above all else
The bride is your top client. You need to pose her beautifully and make the photo shoot work in her favor. Try to keep this little rule in mind at all times and you should be just fine. Your bride will thank you profusely once she sees the pictures you will be submitting post shoot.
Give out well-placed compliments to help boost confidence in people you are filming
Women love it when they are complimented while having their pictures taken. Learn how to do this properly and time this accurately and you will be gold. This isn’t such a hot idea among male subjects though so remember to proceed with caution if you are venturing towards that territory.
Have groups come closer to each other during the photos
Gaps in between people during the group photos may come off looking weird and a bit awkward. A seasoned wedding photographer will usually encourage the guests to play around and “harass each other” (this is just in a playful sense, nothing lascivious or anything like that) to make the photos look more casual and interesting when they come out. This is perfect for all kinds of groups, large or small, too.
Do not film people when they look uncomfortable
Uncomfortable people look weird when they come out in the photos. Do not continue filming if you sense any kind of discomfort. Take the time to have them acclimate to their surroundings first and to the fact that they are being photographed. Make them feel at ease and the rest should come easily.
Minimize the usage of flash as much as possible
The sudden glare coming from the camera flash can be distracting and a bit disorientating so if you are going for more natural looking photos, it would be much better for you to make use of a lot of natural light instead.
Your gear is your first line of defense. Without it, your career in professional wedding photography is just not possible in any way, shape or form so this is the most significant starting point in everything. Start off with a nice and steady DSLR camera that will be able to deliver high resolution photos without having you going bankrupt just yet. You are still starting out, after all. Regardless, this is probably the wisest investment you will ever get to make to help kick start your professional career.
2. Scout the wedding and reception venues two days or so in advance
It pays to familiarize yourself with the wedding landscape so that come event day, you are able to get it all figured out. You will know how and where to position your subjects and you will get to know where the best spots for photographing are. Know the venue like the back of your hand and everything else should come along easy as pie.
3. Have a long and meaningful conversation with your clients before planning anything out on your own
Sit down with your clients and take time to really list down the things that they would like to get out of your services. This will also be the best time to ask if they will be able to allow you any artistic liberties and where the perimeters lay with regards to the things that you basically decide on your own.
4. You need to have more than one camera
You need a secondary camera for when things go awry with your first one. It is an absolute requirement and there is just no negotiating out of this one at all. Having a secondary camera that takes pictures just as well and as high quality as the first one will ensure that you will be able to continue filming the event even if something happens to your primary camera of choice. It also makes it easier for you to switch in between lenses because you can just mount them on different cameras and swap in between cameras instead.
5. You need to have more than just one lens
And speaking of lenses, you need to have at least two to start off with. A wide angle lens is required for this group photos that is just an absolute must for wedding photography. You’re also going to need a macro lens for the more romantic and close-up shots that are also quintessential to wedding photos.
6. You need to have another person to assist you in covering the event
An extra pair of hands is needed for all the equipment that you will be lugging around with you. This holds particularly true if your client has signed up for both wedding photos and videos. You just can’t do both at the same time throughout the event.
7. Make sure that you are able to back up your files
Store your files in different places and using different mediums. Files are oftentimes corrupted when stored solely in memory cards so invest in great hard drives and computers that you can transfer them in as soon as you’re done filming.