Once in while I receive e-mails or phone calls from aspiring or beginner wedding photographers asking me for advise on how to become successful in the wedding field. My first question is always what their motivation is to become a wedding photographer. Some will reply that they heard from somebody that it is easy money, or that they got a cool camera that takes great photos or that they would like to make some money on the side etc. While it is true that wedding photography can be a very profitable business achieving success in the wedding industry is not just a matter of getting a camera and start shooting. Wedding photography involves artistic talent, human sense, complete mastery of photographic techniques, business knowledge, and a strong desire to learn and deliver the best to the wedding couple.
Here I have summarized some points that I believe will guide beginner wedding photographers:
1. Learn photography before anything else. A wedding photographer is expected to be a master of the craft. You will be in charge of capturing people's most precious life moments. The wedding day is not the place to learn photography.
2. Just because you got a brand new camera it does not automatically make you an effective and reliable photographer. Photography goes beyond cool toys and gadgets. Learn composition and develop a unique artistic vision. Some of the great photographs of all time were taken with manual cameras.
3. Master the digital workflow, including color management, digital image processing, file management and image correction and enhancement.
4. Learn to love photography more than anything else. Don't come to the wedding photography field with just dreams of making money. It is true that there are many successful wedding photographers that make a lot of money. However according to the Professional Photographers of America the average photographer in America makes about $24,000 a year.
5. Focus on delivering quality more than quantity. Seek with all your heart to capture unique photographs.
6. Develop a style that is recognizable and unique. Don't try to be like somebody else. Clients look for unique photographers, with a unique vision.
7. Give wedding photography all your heart and effort. Long when you are gone your photographs will last forever. It is a great way to be remembered.
8. Open your heart and your mind and great photos will happen. Concentrate on the human aspect of weddings, the details, and emotions and be ready to capture them. Let the camera become an extension of you.
9. Share your technical knowledge and make connections with other wedding photographers.
10. Participate in wedding photography image competitions. It will give you the opportunity to have your work evaluated by peers and the motivation to improve your work quality.
11. Learn something new everyday. Take advantage of professional photography organizations such as Professional Photographers of America (PPA), WPPI, etc. Attend their seminars, workshops. Participate in Internet wedding photography forums and learn and share tips, tools and techniques.
12. Don't neglect the business aspect of wedding photography. Learn to manage your business effectively. Take business courses and seminars.
Juan Carlos Torres is a very respected and awarded wedding photographer in Oregon. He has a Masters Degree in Remote Sensing with a strong background in digital image processing and photography. He is a member of the several professional photographer organizations including the Professional Photographers of America, the Professional Photographers of Oregon, the Wedding Photojournalist Association, and the Oregon Wedding Photo Guild. His wedding photographs are unique and very artistic and have been featured in national and international magazines. For a sample of his works please visit Portland Oregon Wedding Photographer and Eugene Oregon Wedding Photographer
For a discussion on wedding photography see our Blog at Oregon Wedding Photographer