“‘Ere, this wedding photography lark’s a doddle isn’t it? I mean, all you have to do is press a button!”
Ah, if only it were that simple – turn up at the wedding, stroll about a bit, click the camera shutter now and again, sink a few cocktails, chat up the bridesmaids and then disappear enigmatically into the night. Unfortunately it isn’t quite as easy at that, and takes dedication, motivation and hard work. In fact, if you follow the five steps below in a diligent and industrious fashion, you should be well on your way to becoming a rockstar wedding photographer:
1. Learn your gear
Do you know your aperture priority from your manual? How about shutter priority? What about the interaction between aperture, shutter speed and ISO? Do you know what an f-stop is? More importantly, do you know how to capture a fantastic photograph of the bride approaching the church on a nice sunny day, and then five seconds later take another fantastic photo in a dimly lit Aladdin’s Cave of a church without batting an eyelid? How about if the sun disappears and ominous clouds roll in overhead, obliterating your lovely light?
Believe me, the last thing you want to be doing is fumbling around with your camera as the all-important events unfold before you.
2. See The Light!
Can you capture a great image no matter what the conditions? What will you do if it’s a bright sunny day and there’s no shade to be seen? How about if it’s raining? Overcast? How about at night? Do you know the difference between hard and soft light, and can you create / negate both? The bottom line is, if the light isn’t great, are you able to find or create fantastic light?
If you’ve never photographed a wedding before, find someone who has and offer to assist them for free. See how they work – how they interact with the couple, how they create fantastic light and how they behave around the wedding guests. Experience is invaluable – you only have one chance to capture a wedding day, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you dive in headfirst.
One of my games teachers from school once said, “Fail to prepare Biggins, and PREPARE TO FAIL!” Apart from scaring the sweet bejaysus out of me, I later discovered that his sage words were correct. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to weddings – scout the venue first to see what sort of light you’ll be dealing with. Is it a huge, dark barn with very little natural light, or is a small, bright white room? Also, check your gear – do you have enough memory cards to cover the day? Are your batteries charged (the ones in the camera, as well as your emotional / mental ones). Do you know what time the bride is due to arrive, and where your couple will be at any given time during the day? Are you allowed to use flash in the ceremony? If not, what will you do? Are the couple expecting group formals? If so, who? Remember what my games teacher said…
5. Learn business & marketing
Probably the biggest mistake photographers make is lack of promotion regarding their business. “But my photographs are beautiful Dan! People will become aware of my work via the medium of telekinesis and screwing my eyes tightly shut and wishing really really hard!”
No they won’t.
Learn all about branding (clue – it’s more than just a logo), find out who your ideal client is and where they hang out (social media? Wedding blogs?), implement an email marketing strategy, look into Google AdWords and Facebook advertising, don’t compete on price, be memorable, network with other people in the industry (including other photographers), never rest on your laurels, never stop learning.
6. Sort your website out
I know, this list was only supposed to be five items long, but this one is important too – make sure people can find your website. Again pretty pictures AREN’T enough – look at your page titles, headings, friendly URL’s (if you don’t know what they are, FIND OUT), blog regularly, provide value, make sure your blog posts are at least 300 words long, be interesting enough so other relevant blogs will link to you, and never, EVER use Flash. Ever. Unless you want to hide from Google.
Did I miss anything?