These days, everybody is into photography it seems. High quality cameras that most people can afford without much savings are readily available, and modern technology has made it so that just about anyone can take a ‘decent’ photograph without really having to put forth too much effort and dedication in practicing, developing and honing their skill.
Because of this, there’s a lot of hobbyist photographers out there today — A LOT of them. They enjoy their hobby. But, sooner or later, a good percentage of them will begin wondering whether or not they can actually earn money from their hobby. And, the trend is, as I’ve noticed, that many relatively inexperienced hobbyist photographers will flirt with the idea of earning money from their photography by shooting weddings.
All you have to do is check a website like Yahoo!Answers, and you’ll notice reams of people posting questions that run along the lines of:
“I’m pretty new to photography. I really enjoy it. But, I’d like to make some money from it. I’d like to start shooting weddings. How can I start a wedding photography business?”
Well, here’s the answer: YOU DON’T START A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS! If you’re “pretty new to photography”, you DON’T start a wedding photography business. That’s the bottom line – STAY OUT OF THE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS. At least, for now.
Wedding photography is for experienced, seasoned professionals and experienced, seasoned professionals ONLY. Being good at wedding photography involves a heck of a lot more than just being able to snap off a few good pictures. It’s a skill unto itself. It takes know-how and experience that goes beyond the realm of just photography. And, unless you’ve already shot at least a dozen weddings or so, you’re going to suck at it. And, you’ll make people hate you. That’s just the nature of the wedding photography beast.
I know you don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. YOU ARE NOT EQUIPPED TO OFFER YOUR SERVICES AS A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER! It’s as simple as that.
Listen: If you don’t really know what you’re doing and you hire yourself out for portraits, let’s say. You’re likely going to mess up because you’re inexperienced. But, it’s not a huge deal if you do. If someone has paid you to take a portrait of them, and you manage to screw something up, you can give them their money back, or you can schedule a re-shoot. No biggie. You can make good on your mistake.
However, a wedding happens once and once only. There are no re-shoots. And, refunding a person’s money will not get them the photographs that they wanted to have and to cherish for the rest of their lives. If you are under-experienced, you hire yourself out as a wedding photographer, and you mess up because you’re under-experienced, people will hate you. And, you’d deserve it, too! It’s irresponsible, low and shameful. So, get the idea out of your head right now. If you’re a ‘hobbyist’ and you try to present yourself as a competent wedding photographer you can do real emotional damage to someone. You can actually hurt people! So, get the idea out of your head.
The first thing I would recommend is looking around for workshops that might be going on in your area that specifically focus on wedding photography. Take them in and learn as much as you can. Hit the internet, your local library, etc., and try to absorb everything you can specifically about wedding photography. Then, find an experienced wedding photographer and volunteer your services to them. Offer to be their photography slave for free. Go with them to the weddings they shoot and lug their equipment around for them. Run and get them coffee when they ask for it. Set up light-stands and such that they need setting up. Hold reflectors and light modifiers for them. And, all the while that you’re doing this, watch them work and learn from them.
After you do this for a while, and you become familiar with the basics, you can try to become a second-shooter for them on their weddings gigs. They may, or may not, be willing to pay you a paltry sum for doing this, depending on the photographer you’re working with. But, even if they’re not, do it anyway! You’re working for the experience. And, after you’ve acted as a second-shooter on at least eight or ten weddings, if, by then, you’ve built up the experience you need and you have a good grasp of how to successfully pull off a wedding photography gig, then you can begin hiring yourself out as a wedding photographer.
If you’re simply looking for a way to earn money from your photography hobby, you’re much better off trying your hand at working freelance photography jobs — click here to find out more information.
Remember the wedding photography rule: “If you’re new, weddings are not for you.” To even attempt to shoot weddings, you need A LOT of experience — experience in photographing weddings specifically, and experience in running a wedding photography business specifically. If you don’t have that experience, then you shouldn’t even attempt hiring yourself out to shoot weddings.