Building a Wedding Photography Business from the Ground Up
If you’re looking to start a wedding photography business, you must make sure to do it properly. There are many ways to go about becoming a wedding photographer, but creating a successful business is different altogether. Starting any small business can be a large feat. As a wedding photographer, you’re not only a photographer – you’re a business owner.
But first of all: how do you even start shooting weddings? There are a few ways to become a wedding photographer. You must learn how to take wedding photos to become a successful photographer. When you’re starting a business, you need to make sure you already have your skill set lined up for success.
I link to a couple of affiliate resources in here that I fully endorse in my own wedding photography business.
Start with Second Shooting for Local Wedding Photographers
To start training as a wedding photographer, second shooting is a great way to start out. I would highly recommend that you start training as a wedding photography assistant, and then a second shooter. This allows you the opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of a wedding day with much lower stakes. You can build up your business, and portfolio, by second shooting wedding photography jobs.
Practice with Friends and Family Before You Start a Wedding Photography Business
What better way is there to practice celebrating love than with the people you love? Ask your friends and family if they’ll be willing to pose for you. Your married friends could pose in some styled shoot content for you, allowing you to visually build out your couples portfolio. This could also be great for an elopement photography portfolio.
Your family and friends may also ask you to shoot their weddings at a discounted rate. If you’re just starting out, this is something that can help you get to know everything about a wedding day. As a business owner, you must be able to understand the process fully in your business. That way, when you encounter potential clients, you’ll be more than ready to serve them properly.
Collect the Right Photography Equipment
One major part of wedding and event photography is getting the right equipment. Learning about what equipment is best for you is very important to your wedding photography business. Many wedding photographers have several sets of backup equipment for the events they’re shooting. This includes camera bodies, lenses, batteries, flashes, and memory cards.
That being said, wedding photography equipment can be so expensive. When I need to use specific equipment but can’t make the investment, I use BorrowLenses. This photography equipment rental service delivers to your door with awesome equipment, carefully packed and ready to go for your next big event.
Figure Out Your Style and Photo Editing Workflow
One major part of when you start a wedding photography business is to figure out your style and workflow. You must find out what separates your business from the other wedding photographers out there. There are plenty of competing photographers in any local market, so consider your post-processing style as something that lets you stand out.
You must also figure out how your editing workflow is going to handle weddings. Can you process a full wedding in a couple of weeks? Does it take a full month? Consider which software you’re using and how it creates an impact in your photo editing workflow.
Create a Legal Business as a Professional Wedding Photographer
As a photographer, it’s recommended that you create your business legally. I am not a lawyer or CPA and do not have recommendations on which type of business you can form. That being said, there’s a full episode on the Photo Opp Podcast on Photography Accounting 101 that will help you out.
Get the Right Wedding Photography Contracts in Place
Contracts are essential to owning a wedding photography business. You must be able to legally protect yourself and your business with a contract. You’ll also want to protect your client in case of unforeseen circumstances. Working with contracts is an absolute necessity for photographers who are looking to start a wedding photography business.
Purchase Insurance for Your Wedding Photography Business
Speaking of protecting your wedding photography business, let’s talk about insurance. This is a biggie, and actually a requirement for many wedding venues. Insurance protects you and your business from absolute catastrophe. I personally use Hiscox for my photography business insurance, and I’ve done a whole Photo Opp Podcast episode on protecting your photography business with Rachel Brenke of The Lawtog.
Create a Website for your Wedding Photography Business
After you’ve set up your wedding photography business, you must create a website. This will allow potential clients to find your business and explore your services. That being said, you must be able to create the website that enables customers to find you. SEO is a major component of wedding photography businesses, and can be greatly beneficial to your business.
Begin Blogging for Your Wedding Photography Business
If you’re going to start a wedding photography business, you must also implement marketing techniques. One of the biggest ones for wedding photographers is blogging. Luckily, photographers have a lot of amazing work to show when it comes to creating blogs. Start blogging your sessions and optimizing them for SEO.
When it comes to being creative, wedding photographers are complete pros at it. That being said, not every creative trade is the same, including writing for a blog. It can be stressful and frustrating. I use Grammarly to check all my blog content to make sure I’m getting my spelling and grammar right within every post.
Start Up Social Media Channels to Show Your Work
Create social media channels for yourself as a wedding photography professional. Keep these accounts separate from your personal accounts. That way, clients can get to know your brand as an expert in your field. If you dabble in other areas of photography and post those on social, it’s especially important to create a separate brand for your wedding business.
Social media can be a pain to keep up with. As a business owner, you have tons of work on your plate. You’re shooting, editing, marketing, doing consultations – it can be a lot. I use Tailwind for Instagram and Pinterest to ease some social scheduling stress. You can easily schedule posts in bulk and let them auto-post with Tailwind.
Create a Marketing Plan for Potential Clients
Start devising a marketing plan to gain wedding photography clients. Make sure you’re finding your ideal clients with your marketing strategies. If you want to get high-paying clients, for example, don’t use the words “affordable” or “cheap” in your descriptions. Create print marketing materials like business cards and other tangible takeaways for when you meet prospective clients.
One of my favorite email marketing platforms is FloDesk, which I switched to in the last year. This has allowed me to create lead forms for potential clients, and create email campaigns around them. Sprout Studio also has a built-in email campaign feature (which I wrote some fun campaigns for!) that allow you to connect with your clients in an effective way.
Spread the Word About Your Wedding Photography Business
One great way to drum up wedding photography business is through word of mouth. Tell your friends and family that you’re a working wedding photographer. Ask them to recommend your services to their circle of friends. Spread the word within your community to get your name out there as a wedding photographer.
Collect Reviews from Clients as Your Business Grows
Once you’ve had some wedding photography clients, make sure to collect reviews. When potential clients read reviews online, they’re way more likely to buy from that brand. If a potential bride or groom is looking for wedding photography services, seeing a bunch of great reviews is a positive motivator for them to book your services.
Don’t Go Full Time Until You’re Ready
A very important thing to remember: don’t become a full time wedding photographer until you’re ready. Make sure that you have some weddings lined up into the future, and you’ve created a steady base of income. Jumping into a full time wedding photography business too soon can be detrimental to your lifestyle and to your brand.
Keep Educating Yourself and Building Up Your Skill Set
No matter where you are in your wedding photography career, you must make sure to keep educating yourself. Like any creative business, you can always keep developing your skill sets. Keep on learning and getting education in your craft. Your business will continue to thrive and prosper when you bring in new skill sets.
CreativeLive has a ton of wedding photography courses for you to look into. If you’re ready to keep honing your photography skills, online education is an awesome route to take. You can easily keep working on your skill set without having to physically go into a classroom, something any busy small business owner can appreciate.
Start a Photography Business Easily
These are the key points to starting a wedding photography business. As a business owner, you’ll always find there’s something more to add and something new to implement. But these are the major jumping off points if you want to become a full time wedding photographer.