The wedding photography industry has grown rapidly in recent years. Wedding photography is a combination of creativity, romance, and technical skill, and is a dream job for many. You may want to photograph weddings as a hobby, or make it your career. Either way, you need to first develop strong photography skills and build a portfolio by shadowing professional wedding photographers. Once you have built your portfolio, you can begin growing your business.
Developing Your Photography Skills
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Purchase quality equipment. Wedding photos are heirlooms the family will treasure for years. To produce high quality work, you should use high quality equipment. Start with mid-range products--you can always upgrade later. Talk to retailers and other photographers to see what they recommend.
You’ll need a tripod and a monopod, camera bags, lenses, 4 GB memory cards, a flash, and a camera.
Rent your gear before you purchase. This will give you a trial period to see if it works for you.
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Practice using your camera and equipment. You need to know your photography equipment in and out. That way, you’ll be able to focus on getting the perfect shot when the wedding day arrives. Go through your camera’s owner’s manual, take photos in tons of different conditions, and consider taking a photography class or workshop.
Make sure you know how to handle your equipment in different lighting conditions and when the subject is moving quickly.
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Take photography classes, if possible. While taking classes isn’t necessary to becoming a wedding photographer, it can definitely help. Consider taking classes at your university, local community college, or online.
Photography classes can help you get a feel for technique and equipment fundamentals. If you are in college, consider majoring or minoring in photography.
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Develop your personal style. Every photographer has their own style. This style isn’t fixed. Rather, it’s constantly evolving as the photographer grows. To develop your own style, look to your favorite photographers for inspiration. See what elements you like, and try to bring them to life in your own work.
There are two kinds of wedding photography: traditional, which involves classic, posed photos, and photojournalistic, which involves more candid photos. Your own style might lean towards one, or blend the two.
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Take risks. In order to grow creatively and develop your own photography style, you’ll need to take risks. Try different angles and color schemes, and test different techniques. Just remember that the wedding is not the place for radical experimentation.
While you can--and should--experiment with some shots at the wedding, avoid turning the entire shoot into a creative experiment.
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Learn to edit your photos. Wedding photographers often spend more time editing their photos than they do actually taking them. It’s a good idea to become proficient in photo editing softwares like Photoshop and Lightroom by watching online tutorials or attending workshops, and practicing on your own, of course.
Consider your personal photography style when editing your photos. Your finished photos should reflect your style.
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Shadow professional wedding photographers. One of the best ways to learn is to watch others who have mastered the craft. Ask local wedding photographers you admire if you can shadow them during a photoshoot or work as an assistant. Pay close attention and take notes if you need to.
Working as an assistant to an established wedding photographer is a great way to get into the industry.
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Create an online portfolio. Having a portfolio of your work is key for any aspiring wedding photographer. A website is a great place to house your portfolio. On your website, clients can learn more about your business while browsing through your work.
Your online portfolio is a digital representation of your business, so make sure it looks professional. Your website should have a consistent style and easy-to-navigate format.
One way to build your portfolio is to offer to work for free. You can help out a professional wedding photographer, or offer to shoot a friend's wedding free of charge. You’ll gain valuable experience while getting shots for your portfolio.
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Join a photography organization. Joining a photography organization is a great way to connect with other wedding photographers and learn more about your art. These organizations also offer great networking opportunities. Your new photographer friends can give you referrals!
Organizations like Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) offer strategies, tips, and equipment reviews for professional wedding photographers.
Try to find a photography group in your area. If you can’t find one, consider starting your own.