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Just made redundant - advice needed

DaveS101 10 50 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 4:54PM

I have just been made redundant and now need to find a job. However for the past year i have been thinking about doing wedding photography full time.

I was wondering if anyone else has been in this situation and managed to make a go of it. If anyone has i was wondering if they had any help starting like small business grants etc and how they went about it. Now i no longer have a job i need to do something very quickly.

Any advice would be appreciated.

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User_Removed 11 2.2k 3 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 4:57PM

you should be able to get financial assistance on retraining. If so go and get onto a good photo course specifically for doing Wedding Photography. One that not only sets you up with all of the pre-requisite photo skills but also instructs you on the business skills as well. You want an end-to-end package and you should be able to get someone somewhere to at least carry part of the costs of doing so.

Good luck. I was where you are now about three years ago.
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 5:03PM
First of all, I sympathise with your situation.

With the greatest respect, I have to say that you should not be thinking of becoming a professional photographer as a knee jerk reaction to losing your job.

It's a profession, a great skill that takes time to nurture and develop. You don't just wake up one morning and declare, "today I'm going to be a wedding photographer"

A few questions to get the ball rolling:

Do you have any business experience (not as an employee)?
Do you have any wedding photography knowledge and experience?
Are you an outgoing person with good inter-personnel skills?
Do you have the requisite photography skills?
Do you have the minimum necessary equipment?

Five very simple, basic questions but in all sincerity and with good intentions, if in all honesty you cannot say yes to all of these, you need to find something else to do for now.

Professional wedding photography is a highly skilled specialised form of photography as it encompasses a huge amount more than the ability to press a shutter and take a well exposed, sharp photograph

I hope this doesn't sound too negative. I'm trying to be realistic but I have to ask the information as I don't know you and cannot see any website to make any kind of judgement on your work (other than the few gallery photos which really are not the sort of images I would expect from a professional to be honest) Smile
DaveS101 10 50 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 5:23PM
Barrie i understand what you are saying and i agree with you.

However this isnt a knee jerk reaction as i was planning to do this eventually only things have now been brought forward.

I have been on 3 different courses relating to wedding photography unfortunately they didnt really go into the start up part. Also i have done 2 weddings on my own (1 paid) and assisted with another. As for the equipment i have a D300, D700, 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8 plus a range of other lenses and gear, admittedly i dont have everything i need but i think i have enough to get started. Unfortunately i have no business experience at all which i need to address. Im hoping to get help with retraining to address my short falls.
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 5:36PM
Equipment looks good and the lenses are pretty much perfect so that's a very good start.

Business experience is important and whilst I accept everyone needs to start somewhere, you really cannot start up a business without any knowledge at all (statutory requirements are a minimum 'must have').

Biggest problem will be lack of experience, lack of portfolio (as far as I can see/am aware) and (and this is probably the real killer) you state you need to do something quickly in which case, wedding photography is NOT what you should be looking at.

If you see a client today, you are likely to be talking to them about a wedding at least 9 months ahead and often much loner. In other words, the lead times before you see any substantial revenue are very long.

This week I have taken two bookings for late 2010 (nearly booked up now for the peak days/dates in 2010) and one for 2011 (we have 11 weddings already for 2011)

Other than the deposit, we will not see any income from these weddings until a month before the wedding so if you are looking for a quick source of income, then weddings is not the way to do it.

I know I seem to be coming up with obstacles but just trying to be realistic rather than raising too many false hopes

What part of the world are you in? Smile
stolzy 12 3.8k 7
26 Nov 2009 5:40PM

Quote:It's a profession, a great skill that takes time to nurture and develop. You don't just wake up one morning and declare, "today I'm going to be a wedding photographer"
I bet many of us can think of at least one person who has done this.
DaveS101 10 50 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 5:46PM
I have probably 6-8 months before things become desperate, hopefully help from local goverment for retraining will increase this. I do have a portfolio that im currently re-checking to make sure everything is as good as possible in it. Also im in the process of putting a website together. I realise that things will initially be slow with regards the cash flow.

Im in Oxford.
cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
26 Nov 2009 5:57PM
I think Barrie has pretty much covered this entirely...!

Since the start of the digital camera revolution, The market has changed considerably, Unless your an established wedding photographer, You need the time to build your business.

You would be wise to consider all forms of photographic work, Perhaps leading towards wedding work eventually...!!

However areas like " Stock Image " are in a kinda freefall, That takes thousands of images to perhaps make a few sales per month, Then there is " Event " photography, A hard game you may have to muscle into....Wink

Of course you could always work for another photographer, But he/she is gonna want to see your work ( well they ought to anyhow )

If your hell bent on wedding work, Personally I'd get a part time job, That brings the bread in...Smile Then build your reputation and wedding knowledge/business on the side....!
LensYews 9 1.3k 1 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 6:15PM
First I understand what you're going through, and have been through redundancy myself.

I agree with the comments above about breaking into the market, and with finding something to give you a regular income whilst you get established in the Wedding photography area.

As for setting up a business, your local business link would be the best place to start. The website has all the information about starting up.
pluffy 11 167 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 6:47PM
Hi Dave, unfortunately I can't give you any advice I just wanted to say good luck with anything you do and I hope everything goes well.

mark_delta 10 1.3k
26 Nov 2009 7:07PM
Go for it, what have you got to loose ?
get busy with a website and get some samples printed in a nice album and get advertising in local newspapers , send for "loxley" album samples and work out a pricing structure.
As for grants, unfortunately they are mainly available for silly ideas and loony lefty projects, I have yet to hear of one that is aimed at a business that is designed to turn a pound.
Chin up, shoulders back, this is not the end but the beginning of you walking tall and proud.
Now get cracking !
t_downes 9 279 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2009 8:00PM
Give it a go Dave. a good camera the lenses to match and a bit of savvy will go a long way. i agree with marks comments. It's not rocket science. we all start from scratch, and then we get better and better. You have this site here if in need of advise or help.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
26 Nov 2009 8:06PM
Good luck... less you're in west yorkshire, cause I'm after weddings there this year Smile

Seriously though - I've shot many weddings for "work
d of mouth" customers, but they seem to have quietened down now - just cause everyone seems to be married... so I'm staring into the abyss that is marketing and getting customers that way.. scary stuff.
mark_delta 10 1.3k
26 Nov 2009 9:54PM
I have got roped in to doing a relatives wedding in Pontefract, I am dreading it, absolutely dreading it.
I would rather clean out a pig shed...
thewilliam 9 6.1k
26 Nov 2009 10:52PM
I'd echo Barrie Harwood's words of wisdom. There are many hundreds or even thousands of people in exactly the same position with exactly the same thoughts. Wedding photography is a very crowded field with a lot of expert practitioners turning to other work to earn a decent living. A few friends and acquaintances have actually gone bankrupt.

I turned professional just over 12 years ago after my redundancy. Yes, it is possible to make a go of it, but remember the statistic from Business Link: fewer than 20% of new-start photography businesses survive the first two years. In many cases business failure is extremely traumatic as it leads to loss of house etc.

If you have any doubt about your ability to survive, form a limited company now because it's a separate legal entity. It can be allowed to slide beneath the waves if things go seriously wrong without causing you too much damage on the personal front.

I was chatting to a commercial photographer colleague this morning who told me that household names are approached by dozens of photographers each week who offer to shoot pix for free. They want to be able to use the tear-sheets in their portfolio and be able to say " I've done work for XYZ" to prospective clients.

Sorry to bear gloomy news but better to read it now, before the bailiffs arrive.

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