Making The Most of Being a New Wedding Photographer

Are you thinking about becoming a wedding photographer or have you already started setting up your business? Well first of all congratulations and welcome to a seriously rewarding if at times challenging career. I’m excited for you and I’m here if you need any advice.

For now, this might be useful for you to think about – I’ve noticed that many of the photographers that I mentor or encounter don’t really know what to do about presenting their newness in the industry. 

Many people try to disguise it. They fill their portfolio with styled shoot images and hope that potential clients do not notice an absence of real weddings. They write advice blog posts instead of showing weddings and when it comes to the about page, there is nothing about how fresh they are.

Now I totally get it, it’s easy to look at what others are already doing and think I just need to emulate that. I often wonder how on earth I would launch a wedding photography business in the current market. It’s so much more competitive than when I started but I do think my approach would be somewhat similar. In my first year, I put out the word that I was moving into shooting weddings, and if any of my friends were planning a wedding or knew anyone who was, I would be available at a reduced rate whilst I learned my craft.

Think about going to the hairdressers. You can book a stylist, a senior stylist, or a junior stylist. You understand that you are paying for levels of experience and that if you book a junior you will pay less but they will still be learning. Chances are you will still get a great cut but it’s a little more risk. Now if you can afford it, you will not book the junior and it’s the same with wedding photography. 

People with a decent budget would mostly rather pay a photographer with an established business but not everyone has a decent budget. I recently heard from a couple who had seen that I run a training school and wanted to know if I could put forward a student to shoot their wedding as they didn’t have lots to spend. It was a micro wedding and they only wanted a couple of hours covered.

My point is that there are couples actively looking for newer photographers thinking that it will make their money go further. They also understand that you are still learning so will be much more forgiving if you make a mistake than if they pay full whack and something goes wrong. It is possible to misjudge something when you are less experienced and making mistakes is where often the most growth occurs, so it amazes me when newer photographers try to enter the market in the middle or even the higher price brackets. In a job where reputation is everything, don’t be tempted to create an unrealistic set of expectations that you might not be able to fulfill.

Photography is fascinating and glamorous to many so it’s interesting content to put out on your socials and your website whatever stage you are at. In place of any ‘expert’ content that you are just guessing on, you could create posts about what training you are investing in or shoots you are taking part in or planning for yourself. You could talk on your about page about what spurred you into choosing this career instead of glossing over that you are new. I’ve seen new photographers create lists of venues that they recommend when they haven’t even been to some of them, let alone shot a wedding at them. Instead of doing this, how about making it your ‘Bucket List Of Venues That I’m Dreaming Of Shooting At?’

I chatted to Katie Rogers, one of my current mentoring students about this. Katie is relatively new in the industry but also offers coaching to other new photographers. “Post about every little and big thing that happens. Booked a lovely couple? Got your first blog feature? Figured out how to do a Reel? Got your first glowing review? That’s all terrific content and also writing it all down means that when you are having a down day, you can look back at what you have already achieved for a lovely pick-me up.”

Being honest is always the best policy. Take your audience along with you on the journey into this career and have the attitude that people are lucky to get you on your way up. I would celebrate my newness if I was you. I would put it upfront and central in my messaging. Like buns hot out of the oven, I would be saying get me while I’m fresh (and affordable). For now, it’s potentially your biggest USP or Unique Selling Point so have fun with it.