Wedding photography has to be one of the most lucrative ways that photographers can make money with their cameras, but they also come with large amounts of stress and responsibility – you can’t ask everyone to come back again to retake a shot if you mess it up!
If you have an interest in wedding photography it’s worth finding a professional that will let you be an assistant or second shooter. Even if this is free or low paid, the experience will be invaluable giving you an idea of the flow of events, the responsibilities required, and you’ll have some shots for you portfolio, too.
You’ll need to have top-quality people skills and the drive to market and sell your photography services before you think about making money. Word of mouth recommendations from friends and family are very effective, but being able to back this up with examples of your work online is important.
Try to develop a clear style for your wedding photography – from the way in which you shoot your pictures of the big day through to the consistency of your image processing – as this will help your work stand out and ensure that clients know what they can expect from you.
"There are so many photographers out there, you need to master more than just the technical side of things, discover your voice and what makes you different says Catherine O’Donnell (opens in new tab), a successful lifestyle family and wedding photographer running her photography business out of Bedfordshire, United Kingdom.
"Once you’ve built up a strong portfolio, be brave, believe in your work and market yourself. Pride yourself on offering more than just beautiful work; create a great client experience too.
"If you dream of working in the wedding industry, form relationships with wedding vendors – these recommendations are invaluable. Don’t price yourself too low, either. Learn to value your time, and offer a selection of high-quality products, such as prints to complement your sessions too. Consider offering mini sessions, as this is a great way to give clients a taster of your photography services."
Weddings aren’t the only way to make money from people pictures, though; you could try your hand at shooting portraits part-time. You can charge a fee for the portrait sitting that includes an agreed number of prints and digital files, which means you’ll know how much money you’ll make – handy if you don’t like the grubby business of having to ‘sell’ the prints to a client afterwards.
You’ll need one of the best cameras for portraits (opens in new tab) paired with the best lenses for portraits (opens in new tab) in order to achieve top quality prints. You’ll also need to work out whether you’re going to shoot in a home studio, and acquire all of the various flashes and light stands and backgrounds needed, or whether to shoot environmental portraits outdoors, which won’t require so much gear and setting up.
Either way it can take anywhere from six months to a year to get fully set up and become successful and profitable, allowing time for word to spread and give you a reliable flow of customers.
Once you start taking bookings, portrait shoots will take anything from thirty minutes to three hours, plus traveling time if you go to them. On top of the shoot, you’ll also need to factor in time to edit the images. So, remember to take this extra time into account when you decide on your pricing structure.
There’s also the option of approaching local businesses and seeing if they need corporate headshots. It’s possibly not the most exciting photographic job in the world, but the pay can be decent, and it’s a great way to develop your portrait and people skills.