Starting wedding photography

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by rajeev_pradhan, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. Hi,
    I have been doing event photography for few years. I have been doing editorials. I have done quite a few wedding too for free, but I have not crossed the line on being a professional wedding photographer. My wife thinks I have not pushed myself to market myself. I will take any advice that might help me launch my wedding photography business going. I think I have enough equipment to get started. At present I use 2 nikon d700 bodies and my third backup is nikon d300s. as for lense I have 70-200mm,f2.8: 85mm, f1.4G:
    24-70mm,f2.8: 17-55mm, F2.8: for my super wide angle I use nikon 24mm,f1.4. for lighting I have 2 SB900 and 2 SB800 and various diffusers.

    I think I feel that I have put enough time and money into it. I have started my website as a first step. I am planning on getting into bridal shows etc. What I am lacking is that I do not have enough pictures for my portfolio. What should I do if they want to see my portfolio. ANY ADVICE WILL BE GREAT!!! Thank you
  2. The "elephant in the room" is: have you checked how saturated the field is in your particular area ?....and what are you offering that's so different than others ? Do you have your own style that's consistently elevates you above the competition ? Being a photographer is different from being a business person. Don't know what % does it take (of each) to succeed, but it's not easy....otherwise everyone would be doing it.
    Having the right equipment helps, but it's definiately not enough. If you have photos from previous weddings, etc. you could polish them up and put them on your site (if you can legally do so). If you feel that your skills have improved to the point, that your previous photos would just be a total hindrance to you...I'd suggest that you invest and advertise (for models) or snag a couple from your family to act out a faux ceremony, etc...I mean, photogenic-enough to enhance your website. Furthermore, polish up on lighting, check what many pros are doing...and even take a pro workshop to get your leg up. Finding your own style in all of this is also v. important. Having said this, you'd need to expand via various ways of advert. via flower vendors, wedding coordinators, advert. in a local paper, via computer and places where your business card would be visible.
    You might, however, want to try being a 2nd shooter with a local pro, while you're working out all your ducks in the row. The bottom line is that you need to offer the couple a that they will be happy with. Yes, your portfolio should be easily accessible via computer, so potential clients could look at it at their leisure.
    Good luck
  3. If you are not permitted to use the weddings you did on the web stuff them into your laptop meet clients and show them what you can do.
    Or make a "I'm a great photographer and do weddings for my portfolio cheaply" website. Quote a regular price and update the (reasonable) number of portfolio weddings you want & need.
    Do a lot of "engagement shot" couples stuff with friends & family to impress brides.
  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Welcome to
    “What I am lacking is that I do not have enough pictures for my portfolio. What should I do if they want to see my portfolio. ANY ADVICE WILL BE GREAT!”​
    1. Use the best of what you do have from the quite a few weddings that you have done for free.
    2. Have a separate section in your Portfolio for ”Events” and “Editorial” and use the best of those images there.
    3. Constantly review and rebuild your Portfolio as you shoot more.
    4. Ask previous Clients for Testimonials and include those in your Portfolio.
    5. Do not watermark your portfolio images; just use high quality images at low resolution – especially do not use a watermark that has a spelling mistake in it.
  5. Thank you for your advice. I like the idea of hiring some pro models to update my portfolio. I certainly need to update my portfolio. I have been told offering a free wedding session is not a good idea. I need your opinion. I need to beef up my portfolio and I would not mind doing few freebies. Please let me know what you think of it! Thank you so much for your advice!!
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I like the idea of hiring some pro models to update my portfolio.​
    I suggest that you tread carefully.
    Showing examples of a professional model in a bridal gown is a sample of your Photography, but it is NOT sample of your ability to make that Photography under the pressure of and in the local shooting scenarios whilst you are maintaining a complete Wedding Coverage.
    I have been told offering a free wedding session is not a good idea.​
    You already have “done quite a few wedding too for free”.
    How many is ‘quite a few’? Ten, Six, Twenty?
    Surely you must have some good images that you can you use from those weddings?
    I need to beef up my portfolio and I would not mind doing few freebies. Please let me know what you think of it!
    You will need to provide a link to your Portfolio, if you want opinions on it.
  7. Thanks WW. Here is my site
    Please let me know what i need to do. Thanks you!
  8. My advice is working with / for another wedding photographer until you get enough weddings under your belt to have images to use AND feel confident to tell clients you have the experience needed to capture their wedding. I got lucky and worked for 5 different pro studios over the years. The work is strictly contract work in that the other studio hires you (your studio) to do a job (mostly weddings) for them.
    I will admit however, since the other studios keep me relatively busy, I get lazy and don't go out as much as I should to drum up brides for my own studio. You need the motivation.
  9. You have the equipment and you have the experience of having shot "quite a few" weddings already for free to presumably learn what you're doing. So you are far ahead of those who post on here "I'm being paid to shoot a wedding this weekend, what settings should I use?"

    if you've shot "quite a few" weddings how can you not have enough pictures for a portfolio? Even if you only have a dozen, that's enough as long as each is good. Start with that and build up.

    If you have some good pictures but are missing a few you think you should have, I would go back to the brides you have shot for free rather than hiring a model. Let's say you've got good candids but no formal portraits -- offer to shoot some formals for free.

    If you've done a good job on the weddings you've shot so far, I would not do any more for free. Once you get branded as the free photographer it can be difficult to make the switch to getting paid. And people associate value with the price paid regardless of whether it's true -- if you are charging $10,000 you must be great, if you're free you must not be any good.
  10. Nice enough website. Do change the page title prefix though - including your name would be better than just "photography", indeed Wedding Photography by ... and Portraits by .... is better. THe page title is used by search engines to match what you say you have put up to what people say they want, so give it as much help as you can.
  11. I just looked at your gallery and would recommend that you 2nd shoot for an established photographer. Your post-processing is a bit heavy handed and the vignettes date your photos (looks a bit 90ish). You have some exposure issues going on but you caught some nice moments.
    So my suggestion: practice. Get more experience.
  12. I really appreciate you comments and advice. Thank you very much
  13. I liked your website, but it is clear that most of the pics come from one or two weddings only. I suggest you need more shots from obviously different weddings to make it look as though you are more experienced. What you have is nice enough though.
  14. I really appreciate your comments. I attended a bridal show yesterday with one of the caterer's who I shoot their food pictures. I did manage to get 2 weddings. I did tell them that it would be at cost. after reading all your comments I felt that I needed to cross that line. Thank you so much for giving me some confidence. I am meeting with the brides next weekend. Please let me know your thoughts and any advice you have I need to take into account.
  15. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I did manage to get 2 weddings. Please let me know your thoughts and any advice you have I need to take into account.​
    Ensure that what your promise will meet the Client’s expectations and also that the Clients understand what your promises do specifically mean – and then have a contract that reflects that understanding.
    For example we often have ‘after the event’ posts here (from Clients) that could have been avoided if the Photographer had ensured that the Client understood exactly what was going to happen –
    a typical bug in the honey that starts such a “complaint about the Photographer thread” is the Client having an expectation that they will view every image that is made.
  16. Offering the freebie weddings in exchange for portfolio shots is, IME, of limited practical value unless your primary goal is simply to learn how to be a better wedding photographer.
    The reason is simple, if you shoot a bunch of weddings where the clients are extremely budget conscious, the pictures, in all likelihood, will look like you've simply shot a bunch of backyard weddings. I don't say that to be snide, or snooty or whatever, but turning those images into the kind of images that will then attract clients whom are willing to pay significant amounts for your services is more challenging then you might think.
    Brides to be (ie. the only people you are interested in your portfolio appealing to) see the background, and accessories, and colors. They see these things far more clearly than we often give them credit for - and often they are extremely snooty. For example, in your portfolio there is a side shot of a bridesmaid with orange/yellow flowers in a yellow dress. To tightly cropped to add significant 'general' interest, what pops in that shot is the huge (relatively) manly watch she is wearing. The shot is fine, the colors are good, technically there are no particular flaws, but a bride-to-be who cares strongly about what her imagery looks like is going to take a single glance at that and respond with 'holy moly, she let her bridesmaid wear that to her wedding!?! OMG'. Like it or not, that reflects (in her mind) on you - because that same bride-to-be is the same one who is more than happy to swipe her card for $2-5k for your (or another photogs) services. --- and the bride who did hire you (again in her mind), clearly didn't give more than a passing hoot about how those same images would look.
    It's kind of like the Realtor who shows a house with strongly colored painted walls, as opposed to those same walls in a 'this beautiful house' magazine. ie. it's how the walls are specifically tailored to be part of the decor in the one, and how the same walls simply cannot hold 'general' appeal in the other.
    They see the makeup, and the watch, and the misaligned tables, and two or three pictures of different, but similarly posed, bouquets & table spreads... By all means, shoot freebees for your portfolio, but be aware that unless you manage (and can manage) their photography not for their satisfaction, or their joy, but for your portfolio, it is likely to be a huge waste of your time.
  17. Regardless of the fee involved, make sure you have a contract for the work. For this type of work, I would make a special contract. You should include the requirement that they allow you to shoot for the intent of using the work in your portfolio, that this is the 'exchange' in lieu of payment, and that they accept that the value of the work would otherwise be $xxxx. And include that they authorize you to use all the pictures you take of them for your portfolio, and any other promotional uses you so choose. While of course they can't authorize your use of the work including other people identifiably (or other people's likenesses), they can and should specifically authorize the use of their likenesses. They can also put up some simple signage stating clearly that 'photography is being undertaken' That will allow you far greater freedom with the use of the imagery.
    Including a light binder that you have the authority to be consulted, and possibly override some decor/design/style decisions is not a bad idea as well, but selling it may be a bit harder.
    When you are planning/shooting these, be involved in the planning process, to a much greater degree than normal, this will allow you to influence decisions which will affect the outcome of the photography (for example, the client says "we are planning to have the ceremony @ 1pm on the beach"... you respond with "we're going to have to push that back several hours or the photos are going to look like complete trash") be honest and forthright with them. It benefits both parties.
  18. Thank you so much for your feed back. I feel I have received a wealth of knowledge. One quick question. How do I approach to be a second or even third photographer? Any pointers would be great
  19. Do you have any local photographers you admire & whose work you love?
  20. I was in a similar situation to you, had been 'into' photography for years, had second shot with a pro friend and was consistently turning out good work, but had no portfolio.
    I got involved with a few wedding forums and explained exactly what I was about, what my experience level was and showed the pictures of non wedding related pictures I did have and offered to do a few for FREE in order to gain experience. Remember whether you charge a £1 or £2000 you are offering a pro service and can be held accountable if it goes wrong.
    Yes, you will likely get the bargain weddings, but all you need is a beautiful bride and groom and a natural background and you have the start of a portfolio.
    I quickly worked up to £650, then £850, then £995, now typical sales are around £1,600 and £2,000 isn't uncommon.
    Just be honest, reinvest profits back into building up your portfolio and its a proven method of getting there.
    orked for me back in 2003, I'm still going anyway!
  21. Raj,
    I think your photos are very nice. I agree that the portfolios do demonstrate that you have limited experience, which is ok...I'm not aware of any photographer that starts out shooting 35 weddings as soon as they open their door.
    I was in the same boat, limited photos to display in my portfolio. A suggestion made to me (which I agreed with and did, but others may disagree with) was to actually shrink your portfolio. If you've only done 1 or two weddings...don't try to collect 30 photos from each. Pick the very best 5...hopefully from different aspects of the day. You may have to change your display style...rather than a grid with clickable thumbnails, use a timed slideshow, or another method that doesn't point out the AMOUNT of photos in your portfolio. Even just a static collage could work.
    Just my opinion...I've been on that road before, probably still on it actually. I'm not an elite photographer, so my advice doesn't mean you'll be ultra successful and clients will come flocking to your website throwing money at you. But it's something I tried, and it seemed to work better than what I was doing I thought I'd throw it in there.

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