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New to Wedding Photography

4 Feb 2019 11:50AM
I am looking for some training in Wedding Photography and guidance as to must-have equipment. I have a Canon 5D Mk III and Canon 6D Mk I; Canon 50mm and Canon 16-35mm f/4 lenses; Canon 100-400mm Mk I lens and a budget 70-200mm lens; Manfrotto tripod with geared head; remote shutter release; a set of Lee filters and 5 batteries. No lighting accessories as yet. I have just installed a trial version of Blue Light software and have sourced good template contracts etc. I am a new Member of the Societies of Photographers.

I am looking into what skills I need to develop before considering offering my services as a Wedding Photographer. I do have good people skills and can organise well and with humour. One niggling concern, apart from lack of experience and skill set, is that I am now 61. I am in pretty good shape and with plenty of energy but could this be an impediment?

An experienced Landscape Photographer, I had no prior experience of shooting a Wedding until 29 December 2018. My partner and I had been invited to the wedding of a couple we've got to know well over the last 2 years. Then the Bride to Be said " you will bring your camera won't you" So I had a chat with her about expectations. I wasn't being paid for this. She reassured me that it was simply to have a few images of higher quality than the smartphones.....That took the pressure off a bit, but I did check out the venue/lighting etc beforehand and got the names of key members of both families, name of the best man etc. All went well on the day. Got there early to capture the arrival of the Bride and Bridesmaids and all of the Guests using my 2 Canon DSLRs with Canon 50 mm and 16-35mm lenses; my partner set up our GoPro discreetly to record the whole Ceremony and Guests. I shot in RAW + JPG for instant review before post-processing in Lightroom. The couple were delighted, immediately shared key images on social media.
sherlob Plus
14 3.2k 129 United Kingdom
4 Feb 2019 1:05PM
Hi Penny,

Before investing in courses etc it may be worth just doing a little more digging into costs. E.g. have you priced up liability and gear insurance? Have you considered the likely income that you will need/gain and any impact this may have on other income sources/ tax. How much will you likely charge and for what type of services? Are there non-monetary costs to consider e.g. time, inconvenience etc.

Put simply, even if doing this as a side line, consider your buisness plan an essential first step. I toyed with the idea a good number of years ago, but the costs outweighed any potential benefits to me.

thewilliam2 3 1.5k United Kingdom
4 Feb 2019 2:35PM
Penny, if you register a sole-trader wedding business with HMRC, you can offset any losses against income from your day job.

Proper insurance is a must and you'll probably get the best deal from a specialist. Go for a minimum of 5 Million Public Liability because some venues and wedding fair organisers do ask to see the certificate. Bear in mind that you can still be sued if you're doing it for free!

The Royal Photographic Society does an excellent weekend course. Is Lacock anywhere near home? This is a good start but will need to be followed by seminars offered by the major professional associations such as BIPP, The Guild or MPA.

Kit is probably the least important ingredient, seen from the perspective of a geriatric who shot his first wedding in the 1970s with just one Pentax and f1.8 standard lens. We do need backup kit.
4 Feb 2019 6:24PM
Thanks Adam and the william2 for your comments. Very helpful, really appreciate it.

I do need to work out all costs and pricing. It would make sense to set up as a Sole Trader with HMRC. Thanks also for the guidance on Public Liability Insurance, will look at some specialists. I've had a quick look at the Royal Photographic Society and see that I've just missed the 2 Day Workshop on Wedding Photography, but there's another one at Lacock 6-7 April.

the william2, which of the Associations (BIPP, The Guild or MPA) would you recommend?

Thanks again for taking the time,


thewilliam2 3 1.5k United Kingdom
4 Feb 2019 7:48PM
Professional associations are a matter of taste but I'd suggest that you talk to BIPP and The Guild first.

For me, the biggest advantage was the helpful contacts that they gave. You'll probably get the chance to assist a fellow member and that's a good way to learn. It's worth offering to carry the bags for a master without any expectation of payment.
Philh04 Plus
15 2.2k United Kingdom
5 Feb 2019 8:45AM
As a former Associate I would say the BIPP (I only left and didn't proceed to Fellow as there was very little benefit in my line of work), recently I have been attending a few SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers, part of the Societies) and have been quite impressed with their offerings.
thewilliam2 3 1.5k United Kingdom
5 Feb 2019 10:07AM
When 4 photographers meet in a bar, they'll have at least 5 different opinions as to which is the best professional association!

Meet with a few existing members and go along to a couple of meetings before you decide. Bear in mind that associations change over time and the regions have their own character. In our part of the world, we have an active BIPP region but the MPA region shut down a few years ago. If you're based in Dorset, I'd start with BIPP or The Guild.

The SWPP Convention, which you've just missed, is an excellent training event and worth every penny of the substantial ticket price if you choose the workshops wisely.

The most important part of the various qualifications, FBIPP etc, is the "working towards". This is expensive and time-consuming but usually transforms a photographer.
peterjones 18 5.1k 1 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2019 4:32PM
Penny, I think that you are preparing well; you have equipment that if not overlaps it duplicates itself; you have shot a friend or relative's wedding and are still friends!

I agree with the others that insurance is highly desirable to include at the very least public indemnity and public liability; I use Aaduki.

I am also a member of the Societies and their classes at the annual convention are of a very high standard indeed; they also offer roadshows throughout the year worth keeping an eye out for at which there are more masterclasses. Their bi-monthly magazine gets better and better.

For different reasons I am also an RPS member and they run weekend wedding courses at their new HQ in Bristol.

I have in the distant past attended a BIPP wedding training session which was invaluable.

Do remember Sodd's law .... what can go wrong will go wrong especially at a wedding; no time spent preparing is never ever wasted.

As for your age ..... Pah! Forget it.

Good Luck!

thewilliam2 3 1.5k United Kingdom
7 Feb 2019 10:45AM
Penny, one good way to learn is by observing a master at work. It's better to carry his/her camera bag rather than second-shoot because you're better able to concentrate on what the master is doing.

My wife started wedding photography when she was in her mid fifties so did so with a greater sense of urgency than many beginners might have. Within a couple of years, her pictures were published in the better bridal magazines. She retired when forced by ill-health.

The European Social Fund was very generous with training in the wake of Foot & Mouth, but obviously that's no longer possible. They were helping rural women to do any business other than straight agriculture. They covered all the essential aspects of running a business and engaged some very good teachers. Are there any schemes that operate in your area?
philtaylorphoto 19 334 2
8 Feb 2019 8:53PM
OK, I'mout of date on current stuff, as I gave up shooting weddings in 2003.

Way back then, I was a member of the Guild of Wedding Photographers. Their training manual that came as a part work was invaluable. I suspect that body no longer exists, but surely something has replaced it.

Kiit wise, duplication rules, just know it backwards..

Age, hmmm. I used to find being a similar age to my clients helped with networking when I was. Holding up my client base. However, back then, all the top wedding photographers were middle aged, so I could be wrong.

As to moving from one discipline e.g. landscapes to weddings, it depends on how well versed you are in techniques. Over the years I've gone from black and white documentary to paid weddings and portraits to press photography, then specialising in food and nightlife editorial, then after a break back to feature press photography. The slow synch I used in some wedding stuff ended up being used to death in night clubs (go on, try spinning or shaking the camera with 1/2 second exposures for the light trails. The portrait lighting skills transferred to food, and the press and wedding stuff ran alongside each other for a few years building up people handling skills.

Of course, the big difference with weddings is marketing, and others will be able to advise on the contemporary approach. Way back in the 2000s, getting listed with search engines, putting yourself on an online wedding directory, and building a good web portfolio worked well
11 Jun 2019 9:37PM
Hey Penny, yes, as Phil said, marketing is going to be your next hurdle! Here are some ideas to get you started
- Get your Instagram up and running! I'm finding more brides are checking out my Instagram instead of my website these days
- As you're just starting out, you may want to put free ads on Gumtree or Craiglist
- If you have some budget, learn how to and run Facebook Ads
- You obviously need to get your website up to a certain standard and try and get some client testimonials on there. Not trying to promote my own stuff here, but my website is a good example of images, text, video and testimonials that take my potential clients through a journey and they really get to know me -
- Network with all the other vendors in your area, venues, celebrants, makeup artists, etc etc. Offer to do free shoots for them in exchange for referrals
- Shoot and shoot and shoot as many couples as you can either for money or just for practise to start honing your skills with photographing people.
That should be enough to get you started Grin
thewilliam2 3 1.5k United Kingdom
12 Jun 2019 9:39AM
Penny, when my wife was a Director of BIPP, she gave a talk about "how to choose a photographer" from the main stage at some large wedding fairs.

She pointed out the various alarm bells which brides should take as a warning. Too many newbies give out a business card that gives just a business name, website and mobile phone number. Although the law requires traders to divulge a physical address "at which documents may be served", many newbies don't and women, especially, often quote privacy and safety as the reason. One disappointed bride was forced to hire a private detective before the wedding snapper could be sued, and this didn't impress the judge.

Penny, when you start to trade, please do it openly and honestly. Resist the temptation to show demo images that weren't taken by yourself at a real wedding. When I was serving the coffee to one of my wife's prospect couples, I overheard them describe an album that I recognised as one of the Graphi Studio demo albums. Graphi had given my wife had the same demo, which was still in its packing. The couple was shocked to see the very same album that another photographer has shown as her own work!
As a professional wedding photographer, I can't give a false statement like " you haven't shot a wedding before, you should just do it, why not right? You can earn money while you're at it. This is really terrible advice. wedding photography is a crucial event, where you must be aware of everything. wedding is a one-time event that happened in one's life and there must not be any compromise and it won't be appreciatable.
Your name is everything, it is your personal brand, so if you make a mess of someone's wedding, you will drag your name through the dirt. You are new to wedding photography? Then please attend the wedding with professional photographer as an assistant. Try to learn the techniques like how they capture the clicks, light modulation, theme behind that, types of lenses they use. At least try to attend 20 weddings with the photographer. Wedding photography is a valuable memory, which no one wants to spoil with the worst photography. The couples need their good images and they want family clicks and friends pictures and some emotional click of the bride, and some funny moments which happened there. Everything slowly should end like a sweet story. so all this can't happen in one night or one-time clicks, there must be experiences or at least some learnings and efforts.
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thewilliam2 3 1.5k United Kingdom
4 Sep 2019 1:05PM
Remember that repetition is the mother of skill.

Practice using your kit until you have unconscious competence because you can't be creative until you can.

My wife and I have always worked with a trio (two in use plus a spare) of functionally identical camera bodies so that we don't need to think about which camera we're using. Have spare lenses so that you can drop/destroy any piece of kit and carry on working.

Make friends with a master of either gender. Carry the bags for a few weddings and then second-shoot for a few more. Attend workshops given by the greats but remember that you need to know something before you can get full advantage. How would a primary school kid fare in a university philosophy class?

Unscrupulous newbies give out business cards that carry only a working name, mobile phone number and website address. When things go badly wrong, that identity can be "burned" and the newbie is free to start again.

When my wife started her own wedding photography business, she'd been very well prepared and had gained her LMPA and LBIPP with images from her first two weddings as second-shooter. She charged 3 times my price from the outset because she maintained that folk who'll hire a photographer for £300 are very different from those who hire at a £3000 entry price and she wanted to do her launch marketing just once.

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