I Do: Starting a Successful Wedding Photography Business

It’s hard to go wrong with wedding photography. Sure, it’s getting to be a crowded space, but there’s still a lot of room for professionals. If you want to have a successful photography business, you just have to know how to outcompete your competition.

Here’s how to do that.

Wedding photography business

Focus On Your People Skills

While photography is about your technical skills, there will always be a photographer out there that scoops a better shot. Sometimes, it’s not you, it’s the sun. Or, it’s the subject.

You can’t help but take a few bad photos now and then.

What’s going to set you apart from the rest of your peers is your customer service skills. Specifically, you have to be:

  • Personable
  • Empathetic
  • Honest

It might seem easy to fill those shoes, but it’s not. Many photographers will “fake” expertise in wedding photography until they have a few weddings under their belt. Sometimes, they never get to expert level in that industry.

Being honest about what you can and can’t do is important. It’s also important to develop a niche – a style – and stick to it. You can’t be all things to all people, and this is a mistake a lot of newbie photographers make. They want the money. No, they need the money, so they’re willing to say (and do) anything to bring in the checks.

For example, the photo-journalistic style is very popular right now. Can you do that? Or, are you still learning?

Many photographers will say that they can pull off a storybook photo shoot, but it’s going to be pretty obvious to the client if you’re more skilled in traditional wedding photography.

A few other things you should focus on:

  • Always make good on your commitments – if you say you’ll have the photos finalized within 2 months, don’t take 2 and a half months to finish.
  • Have integrity – be where you say you’ll be, when you say you’ll be there. It’s as simple as that. People freak out when the photographer is late, even if it’s only 5 minutes. Your best bet is to show up 5 minutes early. No, you’re not getting paid for it, but you will win the admiration of your bride and groom forever.

Get Your Virtual Gear In Order

Website? Check. Marketing plan? Check. Insurance? Check.

Make sure you have all of the preliminaries down before you hang a sign on your front door and advertise your business. Equipment and liability insurance is especially important because more and more shoots are being done in non-traditional locations where it’s riskier to shoot – think waterfalls, hillsides, and beaches.

A small grain of sand can ruin a $4,000 lens. Do you have equipment insurance that will cover your gear? What happens if you’re capturing the bride, you’re in the moment, and trip over something and fall, breaking a chair or table, or something else at the venue?

Now what? Do you have liability insurance that will cover you?

These are things you want to think about before you’re out on a shoot.

Websites are necessary for the obvious reason that more and more people use the Internet to find their photographer. You better believe that people are looking at your work online and are making a decision about your photography before they ever meet with you.

Your site needs to be professional and it needs to showcase your best work. It has to load easily and quickly, and it better be intuitive to use.

Wedding photographer holding a Nikon camera

Rent What You Can’t Afford

It’s not unusual for startup photographers to need equipment that they cannot afford. Fortunately, companies like Resolution Rentals offer lens rental. When you need specialty lenses or gear like a stabilizer, but all you have is a tripod, you need to have a rental option on the table.

Have Backups For Everything

Make sure you bring a backup of everything. Period. A backup camera. A backup bag. Backup accessories. Two is one and one is none. You never know what will break or run out of batteries in the middle of a shoot.

Market Your Business

This is probably the hardest part of starting a photography business. marketing always seems like this mysterious activity that only a handful of experts know anything about.

But, marketing doesn’t have to be hard. Most photographers do something called “ducttape” or “bum” marketing. It means that you set up a website, and then advertise it on forums, write guest blog posts, and do a load of other free activities to try and get the word out.

Don’t knock “free.” It can be some of the best advertising you’ll get. For example, if you ever get featured in The Knot, it could make you an overnight success.

And, writing articles for the site is free. Now, you do have to be an amazing photographer on top of being a good writer to get featured there, but this is in lieu of spending thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of dollars on a full-blown ad campaign in Google Adwords or direct marketing.