Wedding photography can be extremely rewarding in a number of ways. You get to bring out your creative side, shoot at aesthetically pleasing venues and capture the beautiful details of a happy couple’s big day.
If you enjoy these perks so much that you want to turn wedding photography into a full-time career, you’re in the right place. Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to start a wedding photography business and become your own boss.
How to get started in wedding photography
The biggest hurdle when setting up a wedding photography business from scratch is simply... getting started! When it comes to photography, your portfolio is what matters. You need to have an easy-to-access portfolio that shows off both your technical and creative skills with a camera.
Your portfolio should perfectly demonstrate your photography style and the type of photography you want to get paid for. This will show any potential clients exactly what they are getting when hiring you.
When building your portfolio, you may have to work pro bono or for a low wage for the first few jobs. Volunteering can be a great way to get the first few pictures, so ask around to see if any of your friends and family are getting married. If so, ask if you can take some photos of their big day. You can also take photos as a guest at any weddings you attend - just make sure you get permission from the couple to use them in your portfolio first!
If there is a wedding photographer you particularly admire and want to learn from, try contacting them to ask if you can help on their shoots as a second assistant. This will not only help you capture some shots for your portfolio, but also learn from a professional on the job.
How to market your wedding photography business
Once you have a good collection of images to use in your portfolio, it’s time to start booking your first jobs and marketing your services.
Running your business day-to-day and finding new clients will keep you busy, so it’s important to get your marketing right in order to save valuable time. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can get your services out there, with the easiest and often most effective way being through word of mouth.
You can also market your wedding photography business using such strategies as:
- Email marketing - creating an email list of potential clients
- Social media marketing - setting up social media profiles for your business, posting examples of your work (Instagram is perfect for this) and connecting with people that might be looking for your services
- Website marketing - having an online space for your work is essential and many photographers will create a website that acts as a portfolio, as well as offering more information around their services and the business itself
As any successful wedding photographer will tell you, the key to successful marketing is consistency. You need to be pushing your services out into the world every single day. Whether this takes the form of posting daily or weekly on social media, or simply getting in touch with potential clients, you need to be persistent in order to start getting the work to come to you.
How to price your wedding photography services
Like any service, your wedding photography needs to be priced according to your skill, time and experience.
In order to price your services correctly, start to think about what your time is worth based on your skill level and experience, and equally importantly - what do you need to make per hour in order to pay your bills? If you’re unsure what to charge, ask other wedding photographers what they charged when they first started their business.
If you use speciality equipment such as drones and steady cams to take photographs, you can also charge a little more.
How much can I earn as a wedding photographer?
The beauty of being your own boss is that you have full control of how much you charge and your monthly income.
Some wedding photographers will charge an hourly rate, but many will have certain packages that clients can choose from. These will be a set price and help you better forecast your income in the long run.
Professional wedding photographers can earn anywhere from £18,000 right up to £100,000 per annum, depending on their services and skills. It’s difficult to give an exact number, as every photographer charges a different rate and books different volumes of work.
How much you can earn as a wedding photographer therefore depends on two main factors - how much you charge for your services and how many clients you book in a year.
How to impress your clients and get referrals
As touched on above, the majority of your bookings when you’re starting out will come from referrals from previous clients, friends and family.
Referrals are some of the most trusted bookings you can get as a photographer, as they have been sent to you by happy customers. Referrals are also more likely to book and pay a higher price, as they come from a trusted source.
In order to make a good impression and ensure those referrals keep coming in, it’s important to be professional and reliable. After all, wedding days are stressful enough for the couples planning them, so if you can put your clients at ease and ensure a smooth and seamless service, they are more likely to recommend you to people that may need a wedding photographer in future.
To help things move smoother on the day, ensure you have:
- A shot list - this will help you take better shots in less time
- A schedule of the day - so you know when things are happening, where and where you need to position yourself to capture the shots in your shot list
- A checklist - this should be made in collaboration with the client, to ensure you capture everything that the client wants to capture on the day
Wedding photography can involve a lot of location shoots and with so many people mingling and moving around your equipment, it can be easy for things to get damaged. What’s more, there’s always the risk that your equipment could be stolen or go missing.
That’s why it’s essential to have specialist photography insurance to protect your equipment and capture someone’s big day with peace of mind.