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Wedding photographers - how did you get into the business?

Debbiee 14 136 6 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2010 12:29PM
My ultimate goal with my photography is to become a wedding photographer I have done a couple of weddings but they where a while ago (3 maybe 4 years ago) and I thoroughly enjoyed them, my mistake back then was giving people my mobile number which died a few days after shooting the wedding so possible contacts I could have made through the wedding where lost, I now have no idea how to break into the market. I also want to feel more confident in my work before offering people a service, I suppose I need more practice. I wrote to several togs in my area with regards to becoming an assistant, (heard nothing back) then I advertised offering free wedding photography (only pay for images and processing time) in the local paper in exchange for permission to use images to build up my portfolio, and again got no response (although I can understand this as if it where my wedding I would want someone with a proven track record), so I'm just curious as to how others managed to break into the business, and any help guidence anyone can offer. I do have a few images taken from the weddings I did on here

[link removed by moderator- please see terms and conditions]

Thanks Debbie
cameracat 17 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
18 Mar 2010 12:45PM
First and foremost do you think you are experienced enough to go commercial in wedding photography.

Next are you fully kitted out with proffesional standard equipment.

Have you a business plan.

Quote: I advertised offering free wedding

Not a wise move for several reasons, One of which you have figured out yourself, But others in the same business will not look kindly one someone who offers thier work for free, Never sell yourself cheap, Never undercut the opposition, Or you'll end up working for nothing.

Had a look at your PF the shot in the church....!!! Your having issues with " Flash " ???

Thats something your going to have to master, You can't rely on ambient lighting for every occasion or situation.......This is why I asked if you think experienced enough ..Wink

EDIT: Again from your PF, I see your using a Canon 350D with kit lens, And relatively cheap 70-300mm, If your really considering wedding photography as a full time proffesion, You may have to seriously consider some equipment upgrades.
User_Removed 19 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2010 12:52PM
Haven't got a lot of time to comment in detail at the mo but first you need to develop your skills as a general photographer before even thinking about becoming a professional (in any genre).

Frankly, based on your PF, you are not anywhere near that level at this time and this is where ePz and its membership can help you.

As I say, forget offering your services, you really don't seem to be good enough as a photographer to do that but instead, keep posting and ask for help if and when you need it rather than asking for help how to break into the business where to be honest, you will struggle to survive.

As an illustration, the very simple set up of the group in the church. Ignoring compositional issues, the colour is a mess and f/22? Why did you do that?

Get the simple things right - to quote the old adage, you really do need to learn to walk before you can run Smile

Please take these comments/observations in the spirit they are given. Not to knock you down but simply as a reality check Smile
Debbiee 14 136 6 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2010 1:08PM
Hi and thank you so much for your reply's, I know my photography is nowhere near the level required to become pro, and in answer to cameracats question No I don't think I'm experienced or good enough which is why I'm asking this, as I said my ultimate goal is to become a wedding photographer, I have made a mock business plan (10 year plan) which is all good on paper but without experience means nothing and cannot be implementeed without that experience, I offered the free wedding photography explaining I am someone who wants the practise to ultimately somwhere down the line become a wedding photographer, I didn't want to try and undercut pro togs at all, I was expecting maybe someone who maybe already had a pro tog would let me come along as a second photographer and then only pay for images from me if they liked them. I think I may have worded my first questions a little wrong, what I wanted to ask is how people started out where did they go from the beginning in order to get that experience, I in no way expect to pick up my camera and become a pro tomorrow.

Please feel free to be as blunt as you like with your answers I don't take any offence to them, as they are very helpful and constructive to me.

Thanks Debbie

PS sorry for posting the link I din't realise it wasn't allowed I was just hoping for advice on improvements etc.
bangalicious 13 1.3k 5 England
18 Mar 2010 1:31PM
Hi Debbie,

I am also in the same position, but due to current fund issues I havent been able to pursue this as quickly as I like.
The key is gaining experience. You will find that quite a few people arent that bothered with the quality of the photos on their wedding days. Having worked at a hotel, which was the ideal local wedding venue, many couples simply put disposable cameras on each table and asked the guest to take a few snaps of the reception as a record of the day.
So I have tried to target these audiences. Most of my 'advertising' was done through facebook where quite a few friends asked for my servies. I produced a CD of my images for them and they were happy enough. No charge for this. All I asked, and stated was that I am free to use the images for promotional and market purposes.

Also, a good read is a book by Mark Cleghorn which goes on to explain the ins and outs of wedding photography from, posing subjects to post processing and preparation.

In terms of kit, I used my Nikon D80 (pretty basic camera) with 50mm 1.8 and Sigma 70-200mm lens, plus flash where neccasary. In terms of camera body, this isnt ideal. What is ideal is a body with high iso capabilities. But as mentioned above, budget has restriced.

My advice to you is have fun, enjoy what you do and then if you do what I have mentioned above, make sure you are fully prep'd and treat it as if you were being paid.

I could go on, but lunch time is over! :-(

Hope this helps.

Debbiee 14 136 6 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2010 6:12PM
Thanks Anil I'll try to get hold of that book to take a look.

In response also to barrie's question why did I use f22 I honestly have no idea, the shot was taken so long ago I don't know what was going through my mind when I set up that shot I know i tried with a lower ISO, ISO200 and the flash wouldn't fire, I only realised after checking the original file, while I was asking for help regarding using flash.

My main reason for this topic was to find out how others had got into the wedding photography field, where did you start, I know I've a long way to go but everyone started somewhere so if anyone can offer me any guidence I'd be really greatful
roxpix 17 2.2k 11 Scotland
18 Mar 2010 6:30PM
Here's a question, perhaps not specifically to you Debbie but in general

Does there have to be any raw talent/ability to turn pro or can you learn everything you need to know?

I can learn how to play golf but my chances of turning pro are remote if there's no raw ability there to begin with, is it the same for photography?
whipspeed 16 4.2k 22 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2010 6:37PM
I would say there has to be raw talent/ability. You look at some wedding photographs and they are technically good, but there is absolutely no spark and then others which have that special something and are also technically spot on. I think maybe some people can learn to have the eye, but there are some blessed to be born with it.
Chris_H 17 1.5k 1
18 Mar 2010 7:09PM
I actually got a chance after a pro wedding photographer advertised for an assistant here on EPZ about 7 years ago and got in touch. Learning as an assitant was a great way to learn.

Quote:I wrote to several togs in my area with regards to becoming an assistant, (heard nothing back)

Have you tried to phone any of the photographers? Us photographers are often very busy with not enough time to reply to these types of letters and emails. If you use the phone you will probably find you get a lot further.

All the best

roxpix 17 2.2k 11 Scotland
18 Mar 2010 7:31PM

Quote:I would say there has to be raw talent/ability.

I'd agree Sarah & if I can use the OP as an example, relativley speaking Debbie may be a better chef than photographer (in which case wedding cakes may be the way to go) Wink

Just because we enjoy doing some activity does not mean we will ever be good enough so that we can/should make a living from it (of course this is the dream for all jobs) but it should be noted that very quickly your passion/hobby generally stops being as enjoyable (in the same context) when its a job of work

Debbie you may well have the people management & business skills to take this on but I'd suggest your first steps are to find out if you have the raw ability to make this a sucess for the couples
richard00 14 504 1
18 Mar 2010 7:33PM
Did you use a flash gun?

F22 and 1/200 could be down to the gun being on full power and the camera trying to compensate. If you're in shutter priority, with the flash on full the F number is likely to hit its maximum for example. 1/200 is often the max sync speed on many lower end bodies too.
BigRick 15 2.1k 3 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2010 10:26PM
in a very short sentence.... word of mouth.

Did my first wedding for a friend of a friend.... and then someone else heard of me doing that one,,, and went from there.

I had been into photography for a couple of years before that and was confident and competent with my equipment so as to look good on the day, without having to read instructions.. lol ...

Facebook is a good place to get into 'free' work to use for porfolios,, or you could 'set up' a wedding at a church and 'practice' with a non important subject.
Debbiee 14 136 6 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2010 9:23AM

Quote: if I can use the OP as an example, relativley speaking Debbie may be a better chef than photographer (in which case wedding cakes may be the way to go

ok so I've got no hope lol have you tasted my cooking Grin
Jay44 15 1.4k Wales
19 Mar 2010 10:37AM
I had always loved photography and owned professional equipment before I went into business.

I worked for two photographers before branching out on my own. I applied for a grant, got it, and that is what helped me on my way.
bangalicious 13 1.3k 5 England
19 Mar 2010 12:26PM

Quote:I applied for a grant

Hi Jay,

Who did you apply to? I am desperate to buy some kit, but cant due to funds and my current full time salary wont pay? I have looked at personal loans and different credit cards but not too keen on the current interest rates and deals available.

Any help would be great.



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