Seven tips for developing a thriving wedding photography business
If you’re creative, love to work with people and have an eye for details, a career as a wedding photographer could be the perfect choice for you.
But if you’re just starting out, where do you begin in launching your own business and getting your name out there? Here are seven tips to help you on your way to launching a successful wedding photography business.
1) Choose a business name
You want your business name to be reflective of your services but also something that can evolve with you as your business grows.
You might specialise in solely photographing weddings initially, for example, but evolve to offer family photo shoots or events photography in the future. Or maybe you plan on working on your own at the moment but you might expand to have a full team behind you in a few years.
Consider a business name that will grow with you and won’t seem confusing or off-putting to clients in the future, because rebranding at a later date could compromise your business and may be expensive to do.
2) Build your skills
Naturally, you need to know your way around a camera to be a successful wedding photographer. But there’s a lot more to running a business in this industry than just the creative side. You also need to be a great communicator, be able to spot visual opportunities on the fly that are candid and unplanned, and have strong marketing skills to get your brand in front of the right people.
You’ll also need to have strong editing skills to make the shots you’ve captured really shine, and business acumen for bookkeeping and outreach. It can help to contact some local wedding photography businesses to ask if you can shadow them for a few shoots to learn the types of skills you’ll need to really flourish.
3) Gather your kit
You want to be comfortable with the kit you use and while you don’t need every lens and accessory on the market, it’s a good idea to have a selection to hand to give you the flexibility you’ll need for different shots, and lighting and weather conditions.
As a professional photographer shooting weddings, it’s important to not only have a well-curated equipment kit but also protect yourself with professional liability insurance. In the event of unforeseen circumstances or mistakes, this type of coverage gives you the confidence to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments without worrying about potential liabilities.
During a wedding, you need to be able to act quickly and capture those special moments that are never going to be repeated, such as close-ups of family and friends and those reaction shots of dress reveals or the first kiss as a married couple.
You don’t want shutters to be making a noise or needing to be in everyone’s personal space to achieve that, so having the right lenses to cover all bases, a camera that can perform well in low light and one with autofocus will help you get the best results from your photography.
4) Stay on top of expenses and price correctly
Part of running a successful business, whatever the industry, is being careful with your expenses and making sure you’re charging enough for the services you offer. Do your research into the industry standard in your local area, as prices will vary depending on your experience and where you’re based, as well as what you offer as part of your business.
You need to be sure that your business is profitable, because so many companies fail due to miscalculating expenses and under-quoting for services in a bid to win more clients.
Add up everything you need to run your photography business, not just in terms of transport and equipment but also digital services that help you run the admin side, such as accounting software or website fees.
5) Know your style
Every photographer has their own unique style, so whether you take photos in a classic style, with moodier colours and filters, or a fine art style, knowing what you offer that sets you apart from other wedding photographers will be key to your marketing.
Maybe you specialise in destination weddings and travel all over the world; maybe micro-weddings are your thing or perhaps you love to capture lavish, luxury events. Are you skilled in photographing elopements and want to capture those smaller, more intimate weddings?
Consider your ideal wedding to shoot and pitch that to clients as your niche and area of expertise. This can also feed into how you market yourself and the style of your own branding and website, to attract the right type of couples to your business.
6) Publish your portfolio
Your portfolio is an essential component in your business because it’s how clients will see the type of photographs you take and your unique style. It’s the backbone of your marketing strategy and is how you’ll build trust and credibility in the industry.
If you’re new to this industry, start off with small shoots such as engagements, because they’re less high-stakes compared to a wedding and will give you a chance to build up a collection of professional images that couples will be willing to invest in.
Another option is to work with local wedding vendors to showcase their products or services, providing a win-win for you and the other brand, as well as helping you network in the industry.
7) Build your social media network
Social media is integral to marketing your services as a creative professional, especially platforms like Instagram that are image-based. In fact, you can consider your social media channels as additional portfolios for clients to find you and your work. But just posting the occasional picture won’t do.
You need to build your network, engage with potential clients and grow your reputation, as the people following you will become ambassadors of your work and may even recommend you to their family and friends who are getting married in the future. This means you need to respond to comments, reward people for choosing you and your services, and use it as a place to showcase testimonials, as well as images of your work.
Starting a business is hard, but the rewards make the effort so worthwhile. Working as a wedding photographer is a wonderful career where you get to be a part of such an important day in each couples’ lives, and with careful planning and research, you can develop a thriving business with countless happy clients.
Photo by Mariah Krafft