How to Begin a Wedding Photography Business

So you’re a photographer and not just any sort of photographer you are a wedding photographer. You have chosen a profession which will require a variety of skill sets, not the least of which is your ability to produce a terrific picture. But there’s a lot more to running a successful business than just having a service to provide. Lots of individuals have had a terrific idea or a unique talent but have never been able to capitalize on that talent. This article is meant to assist you in reaching your dream of working on your own, offering a special service to deserving clients, and doing it all efficiently.

 

The Actual Price of Wedding Photography Business

 

First and foremost, let us get the essentials out of the way. If you are going into business as a wedding photographer there are certain items you’re going to need to have at a minimum. Some photographers have done without some of these things but to be honest I would not suggest it. These are just the basics to get you started. You can grow your equipment inventory in the future. Here are the essentials you absolutely need:

 

  • A custom website design (using a secure gallery for clients) and email
  • Marketing plan
  • Photography gear and home office
  • A second photographer
  • Taxes, insurance, business license and bank accounts

 

What Is Not Listed

 

You’ll notice I did not list photographic ability. In regards to your ability as a wedding photographer I am assuming you have already looked at your capacity from an objective standpoint and decided that you’ve got something unique that others may wish to pay for. In case you have completed this you’ll also need to be certain that you are able to handle the responsibility connected with wedding photography. This is a very special day in a couple’s life so you need to be certain you have the ability to accept the immense responsibility of capturing every moment of the day. If you have both of these items then it is on to studying the other facets that constitute a business owner’s skill set, such as attention to detail, client centric thinking, and patience.

 

The Devil’s in the Details

 

Details can make or break a wedding photography company. This is important to realize up front. If you don’t listen to those details it is easy to falter. As a photographer you will need to look closely at the details of the wedding. Equally important is that you will need to concentrate on the facts of the enterprise. These details include the wording in the wedding, the promises you make to your customers, your ability to keep track of the various weddings you may have at any particular time. This leads us into the upcoming important part, being customer centric.

The Customer’s Always Right

 

There’s a reason that companies spend so much money on things like business coaching figuring out ways to make customers happy, since it is easier and cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one. The same is true with all the wedding photography biz. If you learn how to make your clients happy you will get repeat business, referrals, and a much better reputation in your community. There’s absolutely no secret to making your clients content. Here are some simple things to remember:

 

Always deliver what you promise — if you say it takes two months to edit their photographs it should not take two and a half months

 

  • Be quick about your answers — Wedding photographers are notorious about not responding to emails and calls, set yourself apart by responding to all queries within 24 hours in the max
  • Be courteous, friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful before, during, and after the marriage.
  • Always keep in your thoughts that this is someone’s special day — Once you’ve edited your 30th wedding and you’re looking at your 600th image in that wedding recall that while this is a job to you, it’s somebody’s wedding day
  • Do not be on time, be early — Being early to weddings, meetings, and events will permit you to prepare yourself for those occasions. It also has the added benefit of making you look more professional
  • Dress appropriately — natural or black colours are always a great choice for photographers. Dressing business casual for many weddings will be adequate but always check with the few if in doubt.

 

Patience is a Virtue

 

Bear in mind that your photographic skill did not happen spontaneously and thus don’t expect that your company will flourish overnight. It takes work to produce a business successfully and even given all the appropriate ingredients it might fail. Even if it fails, learn from your mistakes, try again, and try and try and try. Never give up on something as important for you as chasing your dream. In case you must work a day job during the week when getting your company of the floor then so be it. In case you must understand how to design custom craft websites merely to put up your own site, so be it. In case you must shoot weddings for free to build up a portfolio then so be it. Just don’t quit.

How do I know all this?

 

I’ve built my business from the ground up with no assistance from anybody else. I started by shooting weddings for free for friends and relatives. My first cameras were consumer grade digital rebels. I have updated everything along the way as I could afford it. I trained with a local wedding photographer and have always been into photography, web design and promotion. With these abilities I created a good business which exceeds my clients’ expectations, remains profitable, and enables me to live comfortably centered only my own abilities. I have had failures along the way but have heard from them and have become one of the best Pensacola wedding photographers.

Photography Equipment and Your Home Office

 

Preparing a wedding photography company entails you have the suitable equipment to get the job done, on location and at home. But it does not mean you need to go into debt to get it done. I have seen photographers purchase brand new top of the line equipment spending over 10 grand only to discover they were not able to get any work. I’ve also seen people go into industrial property leasing for their business without any guaranteed clients. I began working out of my home with two Rebel EOS cameras and a few reasonably priced lenses. The truth is you might already have these or better. I will go over briefly some things you will need merely to begin. I am not going to pay top of the line products, only the minimums. You can update as you go along. In my business I have moved on to Canon 5d’s, Canon L series lenses and the whole shebang, but it did not happen overnight. While the gear might be similar to other kinds of photography one significant distinction is the amount of backup items a wedding photographer must have.

Backups

 

The main lesson I can not stress enough is to have copies of all; backup cameras back up lenses back up computers back up pictures backup memory cards, back up everything. Because while you may never need any of these, the one time you do not have a backup camera, your camera will lock up and you’ll have just cost a bride and groom their pictures. Despite photographer’s insurance at this time you would be hard pressed to justify the failure to the insurance provider, and of course the wedding couple. I have had memory cards break, hard drives dropped, cameras lock up, pictures deleted, and computers crash. Fortunately I heeded the advice of wedding photographers and had copies in place. So in closing, backup, backup, backup!

Photography Equipment

 

If I had been posting in a forum I would get flamed for telling you this next piece. When starting off do not go out and get the top end camera equipment. There are three unique categories camera equipment falls into. Client (average joe), pro-sumer (enthusiastic amateurs) and expert (for men and women who do this for a living). The issue is when you start off in wedding photography you are not doing this for a living yet. You’re attempting to do this for a living. So live within your means and buy equipment that will work for your budget.

 

I began with Rebel EOS XT cameras and while I would not want to return to using them I see nothing wrong with them. Cut your teeth learning on a Rebel EOS and you will be that much better when you can afford a 5D. When it comes to lenses there are plenty of alternatives, but if you are on a budget most Canon lenses will not be in your price range and that is ok. There are other lens manufacturers out there that put out quality products. I also only set a workhorse lens and 1 fixed lens. I am not going to enter the telephoto lens market because in my view they are not a requirement. I didn’t get one for a year before I could afford the Canon 70-200 IS L series lens. I am also only listing Canon equipment but if you are a Nikon fan then go for it. Here’s a listing of some vital items, recall double everything you see here and backup, backup, backup.

 

  • EOS Rebel XTI or XS without the kit, the lens in the kit is not worth the money
  • Sigma 24-70mm F 2.8 EX Dg lens, less than half of the price of its Canon counterpart and to be honest I use it as my workhorse lens. I would be hard pressed to cover over double for the small gain in quality that you would get for the Canon 24-70 L series lens. There’s also the Tamron SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD lens that’s close in quality to the Sigma and a bit more affordable. I used it for awhile and now it’s my backup lens.
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, very cheap and good for low lighting. But it’s fixed so if you have not taken with one before recall, there’s absolutely not any zoom, your toes are the zoom.
  • 4 GB memory cards, as many as you are able. Whatever some might tell you, the brand does not matter. I have had the very expensive ones fail and some of the least expensive ones are still going strong, backup often and alter your cards often. Do not buy larger than 4 gigs or you will be tempted to put plenty of the wedding on a single card, BAD IDEA.
  • Canon 430ex II flash. You could go with a more affordable flash, but to be honest I would not. Lighting in receptions requires at least the power of a 430ex II flash. Your backup can be a Sigma or something similar. Later on update to the 580’s.
  • Tripod and Monopod. You might not like shooting them but in low light conditions that they can help limit camera shake and help to sharpen your own pictures.
  • Camera Bags.
  • Backup batteries for you camera and flash (as many as possible)

 

Office Equipment

Your office requires as many backups as your equipment does. I am not going to go into specifics about chips and such, because they change too frequently. Needless to say you will require a computer that could handle Photoshop or whatever graphics program you’re using. I’d say you will need another computer if yours crashes but in the event that you can not afford that you will at least need to have the ability to access another PC if yours expires. You’ll require a large quantity of hard disk space inside the PC/Mac and in a minimum one external hard disk with a great quantity of space. If you can’t manage an external hard disk then you will want to backup everything to USB.

 

After every wedding you should backup all of your pictures on the computer’s hard disk and another external hard disk or USB. Then whatever you do don’t leave your external drive or USBs at precisely the identical location. I keep mine in a close friend’s home. In case your home burns down your clients will only care if they get their pictures or not. There are plenty of different things for your office which you can purchase for your own wedding photography business but this should cover the essentials, just remember that strip retail investments are expensive and not necessary until you can pay for it with clients payment.

 

Marketing Yourself

 

You have your portfolio on the internet and your waiting for the first telephone or email and get nothing. Where do you go from here? Have no fear, Google is here. Without a well defined marketing plan you won’t see many returns from the online digital strategy. There are many pitfalls along the way to a fantastic marketing plan including wasted time, money, and increased frustration. It has taken me a while to figure it out but I have learned a lot about getting the most from Google. I am on the first page in my neighborhood area in many searches.

 

When it comes to advertising, as a new photographer stay away out of print. What I mean to say is stay away from advertising off the web. Print sales copywriting has very low yields initially unless you’re in a rural area where internet use is at a minimum. The two primary regions of internet marketing are paid for buttocks and advertising marketing. They work well individually and collectively. Both also require excellent SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Big Bad SEO

 

So here is the lowdown on SEO, it means making your site easier to find for search engines. Additionally, it means making certain it’s pulled up under searches which are relevant. You wouldn’t want someone trying to find an interior designer in Sydney to encounter your wedding photography website. There’s lots to SEO, but here are a few fundamentals.

 

The use of keyword phrases in your content is the principal way to be SEO compliant. Essentially, you will want to incorporate keyword phrases in your html code and throughout the text from your website in order to obtain the complete advantage of the keywords, you can ask a trusted business advisor for a good SEO company to help you do this. There are thousands of websites out there that teach you the intricacies of key words and how to put them in. I joined a website for a few months for $40 per month and studied hard before I realised what I could out of it. Then I cancelled my membership. I suggest checking out affiliate marketing websites. They’re geared toward making money online, but to be fair they have a great deal of good info on the best way to have your website up to snuff with regards to SEO.

 

Below are some of the fundamentals, a business coach will help you nail this, but this will get you over the line. First, think like a customer. What do they search for? Then consider the buying procedure. A customer looking for “wedding photographer” is not prepared to receive a photographer yet; they are only looking at examples. So don’t waste your time with these keywords. You will want to include your keywords in your title, header, and throughout your website. Open my website, once you have the website on your browser, have to see, then view source code. You will notice I have included lots of keywords. I use these keywords in my paid for advertisements and in my bum advertising.

Paid For Promotion

 

Paid for advertising gets your site out to the hunting populace without delay, but it will cost money. When it comes to paid for advertisements for your wedding photography business, the principal players in the sport are Google, Yahoo, and Bing. To be entirely honest, Google is the only one you should worry about at the moment. Google’s market share of the internet searches comprises over 75% of the whole sector. Yahoo, Bing and many others make up the difference. I have tried advertising with Yahoo and Bing and to be honest I can not say I was impressed with the outcomes or the advertising procedures.

 

Your keywords will be important here too. You will use them to your advertising and in developing a campaign. You will set a daily budget that you don’t wish to go over. Just be cautious, 5 dollars a day does not seem like much, but it quickly adds up. Never invest more than you are able to afford and remember this is no guarantee that you will receive clients, it simply places your link in front of their face. There are loads of websites detailing how to set up your advertising. The affiliate advertising sites are great places to go to learn the intricacies of advertising with Google.

Bum Marketing

 

Bum advertising is the poor man’s advertising. It does not cost any money but takes some time to get your website in front of people looking. Fundamentally you may use a strategy of writing articles, blogs, and on forums to get more links return to your website. If you do it correctly it will raise your ranking within Google’s organic search results and can be one of the most cost effective solutions for your business.

 

A note of warning, if you live in a major metropolitan area such as New York, or San Francisco you might not gain from doing this because of the high degree of competition. Then again, when you have only time to write posts all day long it can work well for you regardless of where you are located. It is dependent upon how specific your keywords are and how well you have defined your niche market. You can find out info about it by performing searches or once more by using the affiliate websites found online.

 

Above all, before you begin there are a few important things to know. First, you can not simply post in any forum. It has to be very relevant to your subject matter. Wedding forums are great, photography forums work also. Second, do not just post gibberish. Post significant content that helps people out. Just be certain that you include your keywords such as best wedding photographer within the content. You can usually include a link back to your website inside your signature or inside your own text. If you’re permitted to post a link in your text back to your own website do not just use a link such as “here” use your keywords. It matters to the search engines doing the indexing. Last, do not quit. I have been doing bum marketing along with paid promotion for years and I don’t stop. If you would like to stay on top you’ve got to be vigilant.

The Wedding Photographer’s Geico

 

When I first began as a wedding photographer I had no idea that I needed insurance. I backed up all of my camera equipment, pictures, workstations, and even had a backup photographer so why would I want to. The thing is, it is for all the things you can not plan for. There are two key types you will need to be worried about, liability and malpractice. One covers your back in case you somehow fail in your usual responsibilities and are sued. The other covers you if you injure someone at work and covers your equipment in case it’s damaged. Both are covered through PPA that are honest is a terrific community for photographers.

Death and Taxes

 

A whole lot of wedding photographers and home based businesses don’t pay taxes. This doesn’t make it ok for an additional person to never pay taxes. If you’re caught the penalties and fines can be extremely stiff. Do the right thing and pay your taxes. Simply put aside a given amount for every wedding into a savings account specifically for your taxes.

 

You’ll be surprised by the amount of legitimate tax write offs a small home based company has. If you use a certain percentage of your house as a home office then part of your rent and utilities have the ability to be written off. Purchases for your company such as decoration and design for staging and props, travel costs, meals at customer meetings, and so forth are tax deductible under most conditions.

 

Read up on it and locate a certified CPA to assist you. It is not as bad as most people make it out to be. In the majority of cases most small businesses aren’t considered profitable for the first two or three years anyway so that you will most likely not end up owing much, but even if you do it is your duty to pay those taxes. How else could our government be able to work?

Licensing

 

A business license may or might not be required locally. It has been awhile since I got mine but I remember thinking it was going to be a hassle. To tell the truth it was extremely simple and even simpler to renew it annually. Additionally, it is extremely cheap in many areas and provides certain credence to your company in the eyes of customers.

 

Equally important to your budding company is where you are going to put your hard earned cash. Sure you are going to pay bills with it and can go with no account, but what do you do the first time someone writes a check to your business name Consider getting that cashed at a bank. So once you get your business license you can and should register to get a business checking account. Any money that comes into your company should come in there. As soon as you’ve paid your company expenses and put aside money for taxes then choose what you require for your personal life. Don’t forget to also save up for that fancy new lens you have had your eye on.