Being a traveling wedding photographer, in my personal opinion, is one of the coolest jobs on the planet.
Because we get to travel ALLLL over the planet and party with awesome people on the most important day of their lives!
And more than that, it’s never been EASIER to actually get started with a photography career.
Because professional grade cameras are more affordable than they ever have been in history, and more and more people are finding a new-found passion for photography – whether it’s taking photos of your niece for her senior portraits, or photographing your friend’s proposal because they wanted nice photos, and you’ve got a nice camera. We’ve all been in those situations if you own a nice camera, right?
So it sounds AMAZING and fun and awesome, so why don’t we all just do it?
Well, it can sound like rainbows and butterflies and money falling from the sky easy peasy sometimes, right?However, a mistake that I see more and more people making is the hustle to start a wedding photography business… without fully understanding all that’s required to do the job well.
Well, I’m here to tell you the 5 things I really WISH I knew before I decided to make the jump into full-time photography. Because it’s more than just the party and the cool places and people we get to meet.
There is more to it that we have to consider before diving in. SO, here’s what I WISH I considered before diving head first – and something you should consider as well if you’re thinking of doing the same!
Weddings happen FAST.
The ceremony happens FAST.
The reception moments happen FAST.
And if you don’t know how to correctly capture them, while being able to quickly adjust your manual camera settings, then you will struggle during your first couple weddings.
As the photographer, YOU are the one in charge of their memories. And that means they are paying you to do an exceptional job to capture every little aspect of their day.
SO, before diving in to your first wedding, I’d recommend getting as comfortable as you can get with your camera – and in your manual settings. As a professional, you SHOULD be shooting in manual. And if that scares you, DON’T PANIC! Just practice, practice, and practice until you feel good.
Example of when you would really need quick adjustments:
Let’s say it’s a partly cloudy day out at the ceremony site. The sun is going in and out of the clouds, and your lighting scenario changes every time the sun goes away. You’ll need to make sure that your photos are not over-exposed every time that happens and the sun comes back out from the clouds, and not to under-exposed when it goes away. This requires quick thinking and quick adjustments on the spot within manual mode!
And actually, I have some really great exercises for this in my Virtual Third Shooter Course to get you started and comfortable if you have no idea where to start on practicing this! I’ll test you on changing your settings quickly, and how you can do all of this within your own home! (Shameless plug, I know. But I had to! 🙂 )
Along with quick adjustments, you’ll also need to know how to problem solve and think quick on your feet.
Weddings are not for the light-hearted. You have to be confident and also have a Plan B for every Plan A, in case ish hits the fan and you have to think quick on your feet.
Example of problem solving quickly:
Let’s say it’s a sunny day again. But this time, you see some dark ominous clouds coming in the distance. It looks like it might rain after the ceremony. And sure enough, there comes the down pour – ruining your plans for where you were going to take family photos. Have a plan B that’s indoors and can keep everyone safe, dry, and comfortable, while also getting stellar photos with good lighting!
^ These are things to also scout for before every wedding. Make sure you have a Plan B location for every Plan A when scouting on the day of a wedding. Otherwise – you could be in some serious trouble and quick thinking that can be avoided if we have a plan! Ya feel? 🙂
Weddings are longer than your average shoot.
They can last anywhere from 6-10 hours, depending on how long they book you. That’s a long time to be on your feet, with a camera, and a bag full of things.
I usually end every wedding day with sore bones, muscles, and shoulder pain. Unfortunately, that’s pretty normal for most photographers at the end of a long day like that.
Be prepared to take care of yourself and buy the proper shoes to keep you comfortable with arch support!!!! SO IMPORTANT to get the right shoes!!
If you’re in flats, converse, or anything with heels, you will be KICKING yourself the next day. Your feet will hurt so bad, and your butt will hurt every time you try to move (…speaking from experience, of course).
SO, buy comfortable shoes, but more than just the right clothing gear, make sure you have the right camera gear as well.
That means: Enough cards to cover the day (and using DUAL camera slots to record your files!!!), enough batteries to give you power, flashes, lenses, and bodies that you’ll need to successfully capture the day.
If you wanna see a list of ALLLLL the gear I bring to weddings, check out my Getting Started with Wedding Photography Guide. I’ve got an image and description in there of what’s included and why! 🙂 *also included in the Third Shooter course… just sayin’.
Moral of the story: Be. Prepared.
Come ready to stand and capture LONGGG days, because YOU are the professional here. So make sure you have the gear to do it well!
That’s a lot of pressure.
But guess what. It’s 100% true.
They hired YOU to capture every little detail, moment, and aspect of their day.
They’re going to miss a LOTTT of things on their day – because they are going to be focused on each other!
So that means, you’re there to capture the things that they will and will not remember – reactions, tears, laughs, decorations, group photos, and more. YOU are the one here, and they are expecting you to capture every detail.
It’s also important to remember that it is not about you. It is 1000% about your clients.
Learn about your clients. Learn about what they want and what they would expect in their gallery!
Serve them the best way you can by giving them SO many important memories, and know WHEN they are going to happen!
But even more so, I also know when each event is going to happen – because I’ve been in contact with the coordinator for the timeline of the day (or had to step up and make my own timeline based on communications with the bride), and make sure we stay on time.
This is something I REALLLLY dive into within my Third Shooter Course. I even have an example of a timeline in the Wedding Day Questionnaire Guide that’s included!
As the wedding photographer, you are also the support system to the bride at times. They trust you, and if you’ve done this right, they are friends with you and depend on a LOT from you.
That means – staying on time, taking care of problems, and being in cahoots with the coordinator on where we will be for photos throughout the venue location.
So, it’s more than just taking photos – it’s being the friend, and sometimes, the coordinator to make sure we stay on time, and get family members where they need to be on time as well.
Annnnnddddd that means you are the head of every department.
That means, you are the Marketing Director, Head Accountant, Customer Care Provider, Artist, and CEO.
You. Handle. Everything.
And for some people, that’s a lot more than they sign up for! To be completely honest, it can feel like a lot sometimes.
Having been full time for a year and a half now, I can personally say that running everything by myself is definitely exhausting and difficult at times – especially when you’re in the middle of wedding season and have no time to do anything but edit (am I right?!?).
SO, before diving in, consider that you will have to be in charge of everything, and keeping track of everything properly – like a normal business would.
Having a Client Management system, or something to efficiently keep track of contracts, invoices, and client email threads is CRUCIAL to a successful business!
If you’re looking for a good one, I recommend Honeybook! They’ve got literally everything you need to be successful – from sending contracts and invoices within your client’s projects, to email automation (sending emails on schedules!). It doesn’t get better than that, really!
You can actually get 50% off your first year using my referral code! JUST CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED! 🙂
Kind of harsh to say, I know.
But listen up – If you really really REALLY despise being at weddings – like you don’t find them fun at all, and you aren’t finding joy, and you’re just doing it for the money – then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. And you will not do well.
Because there are 1000x other photographers out there that DO love weddings and will give it 110% every time, because they sincerely love their job and being a part of wedding days.
So my main message here is: if you’re in it for the money, re-think your priorities and your decision.
Money is good and dandy, but honestly, it’s not about that. At all!
To remind you – it’s completely and 100% about your clients. It’s not about you and what you can make from them, or how many followers you can get on Instagram to be an influencer – it’s about capturing memories for them that they will have for a lifetime.
If your attitude is “I hate this”, you won’t get referrals from your clients, which means you won’t get clients, and means you won’t get more work.
And if that honestly doesn’t sound too appealing to you, please please please reconsider before diving in.
Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you get started with this venture! I don’t want any of this to scare you – because right now, it sounds like a lot of negatives.
But there are also so many benefits to doing this job! You get to be a part of such a special day for your clients (like, literally, one of the HAPPIEST days of their lives!), and if you do it right, you’re also making new friends along the way.
And, if you got through this post and all of this sounds good and exciting to you, then YES! Harness that and GO FOR IT FRIEND!!
If I was able to start my business and go full-time within the span of a year, then you can do it too!
And if you want some more help, as mentioned before, my Virtual Third Shooter Course is literally the best resource out there to get you on your feet with shooting weddings.
To learn more about it, check it out here or click the button below!!