Teresa Klostermann founded Teresa K Photography in 2008 after realizing her passion for photography and true love. She broke into the saturated wedding photography market with relative ease and has won multiple awards for her work. We’re pleased to partner with Teresa for this week’s guest blog post on how to become a wedding photographer.
You’ve had a digital camera for a while and you have a deep passion for photography. All your friends think your work is amazing and now you’re thinking about getting into wedding photography. Here is a list of items to consider before jumping into weddings. Please keep in mind this list is not all-inclusive, but it touches on all the major things you should consider before you take the journey of turning your passion into a profession.
Know Your Craft
I’m not saying you have to be the best photographer in the world in order to be a wedding photographer (that comes with time and experience). However, you should know the ins and outs of your camera before taking on someone’s big day. Do you know the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO? Can you shoot in low-light conditions, can you shoot action, and do you know how to adjust your settings for bright conditions? A wedding day can move very fast and there are no do-overs if you miss a shot because you didn’t know how to operate your camera in tricky conditions. Having the technical aspect of your job down pat is something you should have a handle on before you jump into the business.
Price Yourself Right
Decide how you want to price yourself for profit. You’ll find a lot of helpful information out on the web (some of it at no cost). I think that Stacy Reeves has one of the best guides out there for pricing yourself for longevity.
Make It Legal
Get your business license, make sure you have contracts in place for your clients and people you shoot for, register to collect sales tax (varies by state), open a business banking account, purchase liability and gear insurance, join a professional organization like PPA or WPPI, file for your EIN, and decide what kind of business you want to be (sole proprietorship (d.b.a.) or LLC). Some of these items may require the consultation services of a CPA or lawyer if you need help. But it’s important that you have a legitimate business from the start to avoid any headaches in the future once your business really starts to take off.
Create An Emergency Plan
Make sure you have a back-up plan in place. A plan for you in case of an emergency, and a plan for your gear in case something breaks on the wedding day. Two cameras and multiple lenses are a must if you are shooting weddings. If your camera or other equipment breaks or stops working, you have to have a second to fall back on. If you have an accident, you need to know how you will handle it.
Show It Off Online
Make a website to show off your work and gain an online presence. There are several alternatives out there for you so shop around. Just be careful not to invest a lot of money in your site in the beginning, as your brand will evolve over time. Buy a domain and decide how you want to show/share client images after the big day (online proofing/sales).
Be Willing To Shoot For Experience
You have to start somewhere. Try and find local photographers who could use the help of an assistant or second shooter so you can see what a day in the life of a wedding photographer is all about. Just be sure you have established with the main photographer the rules when shooting for their studio regarding image usage. Remember, these people are putting themselves and their businesses on the line so you can gain experience, so approach it with gratitude and grace.
Being self-employed can be a lonely business and networking and making friends in the wedding community is key for long-term success. Look for local photography groups in your area and join a few groups online until you find the one that feels right. Places like The Modern Tog have photographers with every level of experience and are a great place to start. In my experience, this is a very open and helpful field and I’ve always found most people are willing to help if you ask nicely.
In the end, wedding photography is an amazing and rewarding profession, but it is very hard work and you have to pay your dues before becoming successful (most businesses don’t turn a good profit for the first 3 years). And remember, a wedding day is a once in a lifetime shot for most. It truly is a big deal and not something that you should step into lightly. So go out there, be prepared to be humbled, and work hard to make your dreams come true.
Teresa K is a published, award-winning Sacramento wedding photographer who has been photographing weddings since 2008. She offers organic, creative, documentary style wedding photography for the entire Northern California region in addition to travel for destinations worldwide.