In the span of just a couple days, I had multiple photographers ask me - separately! - the same question. These ladies have taken senior and family portraits here and there, but have never dived deep into the world of wedding photography. They were nervous about the pressure but excited about the prospect of trying a brand new aspect of their art. I sat down with one and chatted with another about the next steps, and after having several conversations in one week, I decided this could be a great topic for the blog. So, if you are thinking about photographing a wedding, or if you’ve already been hired to do so and you aren’t sure where to begin, this one’s for you!
1) Find out what you don’t know. The fact that these women were humble enough to ask a more experienced photographer shows an early set up for success. When you begin ANYTHING new, you don’t know what you don’t know until you do it wrong – and then it becomes painfully obvious in front of friends, family, and even clients! Asking other photographers for help is the best way to start. Come with a humble heart, be willing to listen and learn, and make sure to value their time. They have likely spent hours learning what they are about to tell you, so be thankful (and maybe get them lunch or coffee!).
2) Invest in education. This goes hand in hand with #1, but needs to be emphasized even more. When I was young in my photography career I took three workshops – The Art of Authentic Posing and The Lighting Bootcamp by Justin and Mary, and an in-person marketing workshop by Jasmine Star. While I strive to be myself in business and not just a carbon copy of those I learn from, these lessons were absolutely invaluable. I learned how to interact with couples, light even the most difficult venues, and sell myself in an honest, real way in person and online. Without these – and an added mentoring session with Justin and Mary – I would absolutely not be nearly as successful in wedding photography. Find the people whose work and marketing you admire and be willing to pay to learn from them. It’s SO worth it!!!
3) Practice, practice, practice. YOU CANNOT GET BETTER WITHOUT PRACTICE. I could say that over and again until I am blue in the face. Invest in education first, then PRACTICE what you learn. Try things you’re good at and things you’re bad at. Get together with friends on the same level, friends who aren’t quite where you are, and friends who are ahead of you. Watch others. Practice again. Offer sessions for free. There is NO shame in admitting you’re trying to get better – in fact, that’s the best thing you can do!
4) Become a second shooter. I put this VERY intentionally at the end of the list, because if you do not have a basic knowledge of how to work your camera, pose a couple, and light a dark space, you will not be an asset to another photographer on a wedding day. I see a LOT of photographers who start with this step and while I completely understand (you want to get your hands in the fun part right away!) you need to be confident to stand alone if need be before you stand by someone. I am so thankful for people like Dani White Photography, Chelsea Anderson Photography, Melissa Desjardins Photography, and so many more that allowed me to be their second shooter and grow through the experience.
I remember being terrified out of my mind when I photographed my first solo wedding, and although I have grown tremendously since then I can look back fondly at the pictures and know that I did my best for the clients who hired me – even if my best has only gotten better over time. Be encouraged knowing that everyone starts at ‘the bottom’ and know that you can work your way up through perseverance, dedication, and a willingness to learn. You’ve got this!!!