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Photographer
Houmaan Photography
Posts: 17
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Hey there

For years I was more involved in portrait photography and mostly studio works. Start wondering I do have enough experience in photography and have good gear to do wedding photography. But I don't know how to find the potential client when I don't have anything in my portfolio as wedding photography to show.
How did you do it first time?

Thanks,
Jan 17 13 06:48 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Leon Bailey
Posts: 523
Orlando, Florida, US


My friend contacted me to do my sisters wedding. That's how I did my first. Then my second a friend recommended me. Easiest way is to contact local photographers to see if they will let you be a second shooter. Also I'd say do a bridal shoot or two as well.
Jan 17 13 06:52 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Ty Lockhart
Posts: 107
Louisville, Kentucky, US


I started by photographing family members and close friends weddings. Only.

Be upfront and honest with them, let them know this is your 1st wedding and chances are you will make mistakes.  Also tell them that they will get 100% of your effort and you're gonna do the very best you can. Even with that, though, let them know you might miss something unintentionally.

People can accept almost anything if you tell them upfront and  honest.

Your first wedding is the time to be very, very honest. The bride and groom must know it's your first wedding.

After you have several weddings under your belt, only then would I expand beyond the circle of family members and close friends. The main reason I stress starting here is those people are more likely to forgive you for missing the boquet toss or some other important aspect of their big day.

A couple you met at a bridal show will not only be unforgiving of your error(s) but a mistake on that level can come back to bite you in the ass hard.

Pick up Wedding Photography Art, Business and Style; 2nd edition by Steve Sint. It's one of the best books I read when I first started and years later I still thumb thru it from time to time.

Good luck and wishing much success to you! If you ever need a second shooter, I'd love to travel. Let me know!
Jan 17 13 07:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ontherocks
Posts: 22,289
Salem, Oregon, US


one of our boudoir clients asked us to shoot her wedding. she knew we were clueless about them. we made a nice album from that wedding and used it to get our 2nd wedding client.

weddings can be really hard. did i say really hard? might be better to assist a few times first. or at least hire an experienced 2nd shooter to guide you when you do book your first one. civil weddings are different from church weddings.

some people offer their services for free on CL to get started.

you need spares on everything and on many weddings gear that can work well in low light (i don't think i ever went below ISO1600 and was as high as ISO6400 at my last one).

also make sure you have a good contract. we got ours from photoattorney.net but i see that you are in canada which might be different.

it's one thing to be a guest at a wedding shooting for fun, quite another to be the guy who can get sued if things go wrong. on one wedding i dropped and broke my lens during the formals. did i mention that weddings can be really hard? like so hard that you have nightmares about them.
Jan 17 13 07:24 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Glenn Hall - Fine Art
Posts: 431
Townsville, Queensland, Australia


Have back-up gear for everything and insurance.
Publicise that you have both and give the benefits of both to potential customers when you market your service.
I bet you will rake them in as most people espousing to be "photographers" don't have either.
If you are asked, "have you shot a wedding before?" then answer, "No. Look at my portraits and see how awesome they are ... "
Don't undervalue your work just because you want to enter the market of wedding shoots.

EDIT:...and yeah, just shot a wedding yesterday when the sun was right overhead in 35 degree heat with 70% humidity while the married couple enjoyed the shade...it is hard work outside and no chance at all to switch off from start to finish.
Jan 17 13 07:25 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Andrew Thomas Evans
Posts: 24,078
Toulon, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, France


Houmaan Photography wrote:
Hey there

For years I was more involved in portrait photography and mostly studio works. Start wondering I do have enough experience in photography and have good gear to do wedding photography. But I don't know how to find the potential client when I don't have anything in my portfolio as wedding photography to show.
How did you do it first time?

Thanks,

The problem with them is you're always going to be a year or so out. So you're going to start with friends and family first, or maybe something cheap off of craigslist. From there (IMO from a portfolio view, not getting to the business) you're going to need to do 3-4 to get a good book of work - assuming that everyone you shot should be included in your book. Now that you have a book you're going to focus on next year booking and meeting with clients, booking at starting rates 600-1000 or something on the low end. Then you shoot that years, and build up from there.

Personally I don't really view them as hard, just a bunch of busy before the shoot, at the shoot, after the shoot, although it can be a lot of stress. You don't get second chances, everything is under a time crunch, everything has to be pretty good, and any issues have to be worked out before (with the church, venue, travel, etc...), again no second chances. That doesn't mean they are hard, just that you need to be ready for anything and able to handle the stress of being ready and adapting to anything.

Also the retouching is a bit different than normal work. Where (personally) I can go just retouching 5 headshots or 20 portfolio images, weddings usually demand around 150-200 at a minimum to a lot more depending on the package and photographer. So not only is it a year in advance to work with and talk to the client, but it's also a lot of work after the fact - not even getting to any albums or other extra services.

A lot of people all over shoot them, these photographers aren't uncommon, so it's not super hard, just that it takes a while to get into and all your ducks need to be in a row.

Also, due to the event, the money, and the booking time in advance, it's one of the things where all the paperwork needs to be in order. Again not that doing that is hard, but it's more of a requirement than some random headshots or boudoir work here and there.


I've done a few, and would do more, but the amount of time they would take (sales, customer service, retouching) doesn't make them something I can focus on at the moment.



Andrew Thomas Evans
www.andrewthomasevans.com

Jan 17 13 07:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
KA Style
Posts: 1,583
Syracuse, New York, US


I shot 2 on trade, one for $300 (4 hours),1 family wedding (no pay I just wanted experience, I was not the hired pro.).

My trades were when I did bridal MU jobs and I wanted to get into shooting weddings. Both couples approved it with their photographers and I took pictures. Already photographed a hand full of small events.

One was and 3 day Indian wedding.They have since hired me for 2 other events. I know I'll do more! big_smile The other one is an event planner and she referees me to shoot down in DC. Two so far but I was already booked.

Went on my own after that, Im a girl I get it, Im a detail whore, and already understood lighting. Charged appropriately for my experience level but didnt jip myself and brought a second. Now I'll shoot on my own and charge more, I bring a second if the couple wants one/needs one(large event).

And some times of the day are a bitch to shoot. Noon weddings are the worst outdoors in blazing sun, then formals after.. the worst. lol

They are not hard to me, but physical. Very.
Jan 17 13 07:54 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
terrysphotocountry
Posts: 4,062
Rochester, New York, US


I started out as a assistant photographer some years ago. Then thing started with referrals. Check out wedding photographer in your area, to see if they need a assistant at a wedding. Just send them some of your best images to show them that you are a good photographer.
Jan 17 13 08:03 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
GH-Photography
Posts: 9,420
Brunswick, Georgia, US


terrysphotocountry wrote:
I started out as a assistant photographer some years ago. Then thing started with referrals. Check out wedding photographer in your area, to see if they need a assistant at a wedding. Just send them some of your best images to show them that you are a good photographer.

what he said.

Jan 17 13 08:08 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
CBs Photography
Posts: 558
Ontario, California, US


I have done 3 weddings and they were all for friends I knew.  Here are my suggestions.

As others have said, start with family and friends.

Get a good second shooter who needs wedding shots for their portfolio if possible.

Download a list of wedding shot that you need to take.

Helpful to have an assistant to handle the shot list for you.  My daughter helped me.

Don't be afraid to ask the bridesmaid, best man or wedding planner for help.  Gathering people for group shots, the order of events for example.  Remember other than the bride, groom and perhaps the wedding planner, you're the most important person there.

Search this site and the web for horror stories from photographers who have had weddings gone bad.

Research what is expected of wedding photographers.

Find out how to protect yourself with a wedding contract.  Even for family and friends.

After you have done 3 or 4 weddings for family and friends, you might want to consider being a second shooter for a professional wedding photographer a few times.

Remember, a wedding is a fast paced event and you're going to probably put in 6 to 12 hours of shooting.  So make sure you have plenty of storage for the pictures and batteries for you camera and flash.

Good luck and happy shooting!
Jan 17 13 08:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Leighthenubian
Posts: 2,769
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain


Houmaan Photography wrote:
Hey there

For years I was more involved in portrait photography and mostly studio works. Start wondering I do have enough experience in photography and have good gear to do wedding photography. But I don't know how to find the potential client when I don't have anything in my portfolio as wedding photography to show.
How did you do it first time?

Thanks,

Avoid this kind of advice here...do it right from the start.

Go over to Fstoppers.com...those guys have a ton of info on shooting wedding.

Jan 17 13 09:05 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Phil Drinkwater
Posts: 4,719
Manchester, England, United Kingdom


Illuminate wrote:

Avoid this kind of advice here...do it right from the start.

Go over to Fstoppers.com...those guys have a ton of info on shooting wedding.

Info is important but actually doing a wedding is completely different to reading about it.

I agree - make the right start though - and the right start is always assisting.

I would *never* start with friends or family! What if you ruin their day??

Http://www.phildweddingphotography.co.uk

Jan 18 13 12:04 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Albertex Photography
Posts: 14,951
Mansfield, Texas, US


Here is my advise on shooting weddings after 31 years.  Many of these are based on US law and the PPA. 
Rule #1. Never shoot a wedding without a contract.
#2 Today's friend/family/client is tomorrows plaintiff.  See rule #1. 
#3 Never take a camera to a wedding unless you are being paid and have rule #1.
#4 Never shoot a wedding for pay without several weddings as a second shooter and rule #1. 
#5 Never shoot a wedding without at least 2 good bodies, 3 lenses, 2 flashes, a ton of good cards and lots of batteries and a contract.
#6 Always get FULL payment at least two weeks before the wedding.  In your contract state the first payment is a retainer not a deposit. 
#7 Have insurance in case #2 happens.  PPA has excellent access, it is worth the money. 
#8 In your contract include a model release in it so you can post photos. 
#9 Shoot but don’t spray and pray.  Remember this is someone’s one and only wedding.  Don't blow it.  There are no do overs.  Anyone can take 1 good photo.  Pro shooters take an entire wedding of good photos. 
#10 Not abiding by rule #9 can lead to rule #2.
Jan 18 13 12:35 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Richie Rich B
Posts: 1,521
Largo, Florida, US


You have some great shots in your port. Now as a wedding shooter can you honestly say you can reproduce those shots with speedlights and a 3 minute time frame as the bridal party is pushing you along from the ceremony to the reception?

Wedding shooters, good wedding shooters can make great photos anywhere, anytime, with any weather and lighting conditions. Go assist on a few.

And if you need images just buy a cheap old gown at Goodwill, shoot a model in it and away ya go. Fake it till ya make it........
Jan 18 13 03:17 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Harold Rose
Posts: 2,925
Calhoun, Georgia, US


Houmaan Photography wrote:
Hey there

For years I was more involved in portrait photography and mostly studio works. Start wondering I do have enough experience in photography and have good gear to do wedding photography. But I don't know how to find the potential client when I don't have anything in my portfolio as wedding photography to show.
How did you do it first time?

Thanks,

The most dangerious thing to do is to go into a business unprepaired:   In most parts of the country "wedding"   shows are held,   this is a place where suppliers and photographers can show their stuff....Look at what professionals do,   look at their print albums,   maybe find a  list of suggested photos..  Go to as many of these as you can find..   most are in   shopping malls..

Be sure that you understand ,   that if you take on a wedding,  you are taking on responsibility...  If you fail,  you may have the financial responsibility of restaging the whole wedding..  even to include out of town guests..

Yes there are books out there...   don't take a chance...

Jan 18 13 03:43 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Ty Lockhart
Posts: 107
Louisville, Kentucky, US


Phil Drinkwater wrote:
Info is important but actually doing a wedding is completely different to reading about it.

I agree - make the right start though - and the right start is always assisting.

I would *never* start with friends or family! What if you ruin their day??

Http://www.phildweddingphotography.co.uk

I see your point about ruining their day, but that's precisely why I started with close friends and family.

When photographing your first wedding, there is a huge likelihood a photographer is going to miss important shot(s). Something can, and usually will, go wrong.

Who will be more forgiving of those error(s)? A bridge and groom you just met at a bridal show? Or close friends and family that have known you for many years (and you've already informed that this issue could occur?)

Perhaps assisting is the 'right way' to start, but sometimes the wrong way can lead to the same destination. Not every photographer will have access to assist professional photographers. In an ideal world, yes, that would be nice. Just like in an ideal world every photographer would have access to gorgeous models who love TF, resources to purchase the best and finest lighting equipment, camera bodies, lens, etc.

The right way for a photographer to accomplish his/her goals is finding a pathway from the options available in the market they live in, imho. What worked for photographer "x" might not work for photographer "y." That's how I look at any advice I receive or give on this site, and there's tons of really really useful advice here, I love mayhem. 

With that said, OP if you can assist a professional wedding photographer who can put you in the loop for clients, yes, great, that's a darn good way to go! Nice!! But, if you can not find one to assist, well, don't let that stop you or paralyze you with fear of getting into the market. There's always more than one road that leads to Rome. It just might take you a little bit longer to arrive.

Jan 18 13 04:09 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Richard Klein Photo
Posts: 174
Buffalo Grove, Illinois, US


I have shot nearly 2000 weddings in my career that began in 1971.  My advice is to do what I did to learn my craft:  I had one Pentax Spotmatic with a 1.4 lens, a Honeywell 880 strobe (that I still have!!!), and one Eveready 510volt battery to power it.  I was hired by a studio, and I had no experience in weddings at all.  I got the job by having my wife hold up a book that served as a bouquet, stand by a wall, and bounce the flash into the ceiling.  The shots were terrible, but the studio owner must have seen something.  But here is the key:  I went out with an experienced photographer on 3 full weddings: home, church, and reception.  I did not shoot at all, but took notes on everything he did, including his settings on camera and flash.  I sketched his setups for posing the bride and groom, and the groups.  All 3 weddings were full Catholic masses, a different religion than mine, so I took notes on every event that took place during the mass.  I watched how he talked to the priest before the wedding to get the ground rules, and how he followed them to the letter.  I sketched his altar formals and bridal portraits done outside after the wedding.  At the reception, I did the same: following him around, sketching what I saw, etc.  After each wedding, he and I talked about what transpired and I took notes again of important points.  After the third one, I was ready to shoot on my own and did a wedding alone.  I shot 14 rolls of 36 exposure film, and each shot was usable.  The poses were good and the bride and groom gave me a glowing recommendation.  I was not nervous at all as I had my sketches with me and had really studied my notes over and over. Within 2 years, I was training the studio's wedding photographers and decided it was time to go out on my own.  The best advice I can give is don't do a wedding until you really, really know what you are doing.  You have to know your gear inside and out, have backup gear the equivalent of your primary camera and flash, and have a plan as to how you will approach the job.  You really need to talk to the bride and groom before the wedding to get input from them, take some engagement pictures of them when there is no pressure of time (they get to know you and see your style, and you get to know them) talk to the clergyman and get the rules before you arrive at church and say hi when you do, visit the venue for the reception before it takes place so you have no surprises there, and on the day of the wedding, be sure to solicit feedback as to VIP shots from the bride and groom's parents.  If you are prepared, the job will go o.k., even if you get some curves thrown your way.
Jan 18 13 07:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
KA Style
Posts: 1,583
Syracuse, New York, US


What I have noticed is people that are really good/experienced at model shooting seem to be good wedding photographers. Even though its a night & day difference doing portraits over events.
Jan 18 13 07:31 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Leighthenubian
Posts: 2,769
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain


Phil Drinkwater wrote:

Info is important but actually doing a wedding is completely different to reading about it.

I agree - make the right start though - and the right start is always assisting.

I would *never* start with friends or family! What if you ruin their day??

Http://www.phildweddingphotography.co.uk

There is plenty of info in the stuff they produce that cover the how-to aspect. We all had to start somewhere, key is accurate info from people who actually shoot weddings...instead of listening to "forum" experts.

Jan 18 13 07:44 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AJScalzitti
Posts: 12,518
Atlanta, Georgia, US


Most of these types of questions would be answered if you assisted with a good wedding photographer first, along with many others you may not have thought of yet.  It's the best way to start.
Jan 18 13 07:53 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Orca Bay Images
Posts: 32,233
Lodi, California, US


Houmaan Photography wrote:
Hey there

For years I was more involved in portrait photography and mostly studio works. Start wondering I do have enough experience in photography and have good gear to do wedding photography. But I don't know how to find the potential client when I don't have anything in my portfolio as wedding photography to show.
How did you do it first time?

Thanks,

It would be very wise to work for a while (i.e., one to two dozen weddings, at the very least) as a second-shooter before you dive in on your own.

Jan 18 13 08:02 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ontherocks
Posts: 22,289
Salem, Oregon, US


for our part we've hired 2nd/3rd shooters way more experienced than us. that was the whole point. they were insurance.

but i agree that networking with local wedding photographers to see if there's a good fit/opportunity is a good idea.

the thing about assisting, though, is that you can't be sued and you don't have all the pressure on you. no way to know how you will perform under pressure until you are the primary and it's all on you. at some point you have to just go for it and be the primary and see if you can handle it. at one wedding i slipped from M to B during the walk down the aisle (but fortunately it was the maid of honor, not the bride). at another i had to change lenses and they said they would wait but didn't so i missed part of the garter toss. weird stuff happens under wedding conditions -- stuff that has never happened to me in the studio or working with seniors or models.

AJScalzitti wrote:
Most of these types of questions would be answered if you assisted with a good wedding photographer first, along with many others you may not have thought of yet.  It's the best way to start.

Jan 18 13 08:57 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ontherocks
Posts: 22,289
Salem, Oregon, US


we did that. i bought an $85 gown for a model. it was a beautiful dress. her friends thought it was real.

faux fashion-type weddings are popular as well. see if you can get in on the team for one of those.

we also did detail shots at a wedding for a company that does all the decorations for weddings and so we were able to have a cake shot to show.

Richie Rich B wrote:
And if you need images just buy a cheap old gown at Goodwill, shoot a model in it and away ya go. Fake it till ya make it........

Jan 18 13 09:03 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ontherocks
Posts: 22,289
Salem, Oregon, US


+1 to all of that

each wedding is different and sometimes things aren't planned out very well (no DJ, no coordinator, the maid of honor isn't really in charge either, they haven't figured out where to do the first look or they changed their mind about the first look at the rehearsal dinner) and you just have to react quickly and go with the flow and try not to miss anything and try to remain calm and positive.

aside from being dark, churches can be really hard venues to work. we got walkie-talkies so we can stay coordinated (husband and wife team).

Richard Klein Photo wrote:
You really need to talk to the bride and groom before the wedding to get input from them, take some engagement pictures of them when there is no pressure of time (they get to know you and see your style, and you get to know them) talk to the clergyman and get the rules before you arrive at church and say hi when you do, visit the venue for the reception before it takes place so you have no surprises there, and on the day of the wedding, be sure to solicit feedback as to VIP shots from the bride and groom's parents.  If you are prepared, the job will go o.k., even if you get some curves thrown your way.

Jan 18 13 09:07 am  Link  Quote 
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