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Tips For Getting Started as a Wedding Photographer

Tips For Getting Started as a Wedding Photographer

So it looks like you're interested in getting started in wedding photography. I've been gettin' a lot of questions recently on my website about how to get started as a wedding photographer. Since I've been doing it for 5 years now, I'm not the end-all, say-all of information on this, but I do have a couple of things you can do to get started as a wedding photographer. So less talk, 4 great places to start as a wedding photographer.

4 Tips For Getting Started as a Wedding Photographer

1. Second shooting

Second shooting is a great opportunity to learn actually in the field. Think of it like an internship. You're finding a wedding photographer who's established, who needs some help. You've been shooting for a while so you have the chops, but you've never really shot a wedding. Find a wedding photographer, ask them if you're able to hang along, take some photos, and just really learn the ropes.

What you're gonna get from this is seeing how a wedding day goes down, seeing how the photographer talks to their couple, seeing how the photographer deals with any mishaps or anything, or things running late, 'cause most every wedding will run late.

Honestly, in my opinion, if your wedding's not running late, there's something wrong. But it's just a great way to actually get in there and see how it goes down, 'cause the biggest thing that's different with wedding photography from any other type of photography is it's almost like the wedding is it's own live beast, and you have to keep up with it.

You can't decide how everything's gonna go down. While you can control it, think of it like a dog on a leash, it still is your pet, it wants to do its own thing, you gotta feed it, I guess if that analogy works. But it's really good to the second shoot, and that would be the first place to start. I personally did not start there and I wish I would've. I didn't start really second shooting until I was in my second year of wedding photography, and I learned so much just by hanging around other photographers and seeing how they did it.

2. Finding a mentor or associate shooting

So on that same note, the second place to start would be finding a mentor or associate shooting. Now finding a mentor or associate shooting is taking it to the next level. It's not just second shooting anymore. A mentor's really going to sit down with you. They're gonna look at your photos, they're gonna let you know how you're doing, and what you can improve on. I highly, highly recommend getting a mentor.

I got mine about two years ago. So I was about four years, three to four years into wedding photography before I got a mentor, and when I found my mentor and he really started teaching me stuff, the amount of growth was ridiculous. I cannot tell you, in 1-year I grew even more than the four years I was already shooting weddings by myself. So I highly, highly recommend getting a mentor.

The same with associate shooting.
If you can find a wedding company who's not just looking for you to take pictures and to pay you, but to really try and grow you and teach you how to be a wedding photographer, it is like the best thing you could ever do for yourself. So with associate shooting, you're actually shooting the wedding yourself, but it's under someone else's brand. So they run everything, you basically just show up and shoot.

And if it's a good associate gig, they'll give you tips on how to get better so that the product that you're delivering for them looks good. So I highly recommend doing something like that.

3. Workshops

Now with workshops, you have to be very careful. There's a lot of people out here doing workshops on random stuff, so my biggest tip for your workshops is to look into it and really, really make sure it's something that you feel you can learn from. Don't just go to a workshop 'cause it's big and popular. Don't just go to a workshop because it's a famous photographer or something. Really think about what do I need in my business, what do I need to learn about wedding photography, just what can I use and grow from, and then find workshops for that.


My two favorite WRKSHP I've been to so far is a workshop, without the Os. This one happens in Brooklyn and it's super dope. It's run by Lev Kuperman, who is an amazing photographer, and Forged in the North, who are also amazing photographers. I just cannot get enough of their work, especially Forged in the North. I lose it every time I see Forged in the North photos. But WRKSHP's really cool.

Hustle & Flow

The second biggest one I would recommend is Hustle & Flow. Hustle & Flow is more so about business stuff, but honestly, wedding photography is mainly customer service and business and that's the biggest thing you have to get through your head and get it in there now. Don't think, oh, it's taking photos. No, no, no, 10%, 15% taking photos, the majority of it is customer service.

So if you really wanna get into wedding photography, make sure you like customer service, 'cause if not, you're not gonna like wedding photography. But yeah, WRKSHP and Hustle & Flow are two great workshops. There's a lot of other workshops out there that are really awesome. But yet again, just make sure that the content that they're teaching is something that you really wanna learn.

Don't go to too many workshops that are only about shooting 'cause you're gonna miss out on half of what wedding photography is about. So that would be my third place to start.

4. Start shooting weddings, but start small

Don't take on whole full 8-hour day weddings yet when you're first starting. Find someone who's doing a small elopement or a small wedding with 30 people. Find your intimate weddings, find your couples who only need four to five hours of coverage. Just little small things to start out like that 'cause it's less hustle and bustle, it's less on you, and it's easier to kinda get a feel for the day and start that way.

Figure out how you're gonna deliver your photos, figure out how you're gonna shoot the day, all that stuff really helps out. A big tip with starting small too is don't work for free. Do not work for free. This is something I promised myself when I started because, not to make a story too long, but I used to be an audio engineer, or I still am, but I used to have an audio engineering business where I did audio posts for short films and I had the mentality of, oh, I'm gonna go and do this, I'm gonna pay my dues, I'm gonna do this free work.

And what it turned into is just more free work, and more free work, and more free work. And so that business didn't take off. Whereas, when I started wedding photography, I was in the mentality of I'm going to get paid for everything I do, even if it's small, don't go into it with the I need to do free work mentality. Trust me, it will really help you out.

So you can use stuff like Thumbtack or other gig finding things to find your weddings. Be careful with stuff like Thumbtack, it's really changed over the years. I started on Thumbtack and it was awesome, but this was back in 2014. I don't really like the way it works now, but maybe I'll make a video about that separately. But find some kind of online gig service, get you a couple small weddings and start there. And then after you've done all the other places, it'll be a great place to just keep growing and growing from there.

So those would be my 4 starting places to get started as a wedding photographer. Let me know what you think about this stuff. And let me know if you're a wedding photographer, what other tips you have for anyone starting. Just leave that stuff in the comments below. I hope you all liked that information.

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