Soooo you want to get into the adventurous wedding photography scene huh?? Well I welcome you with open arms and present you with my Advice to Beginner Photographers (7 Insider Secrets)!!
It is literally SOOO much fun to capture love in a new, fresh way that your couples can keep forevaaa and evaaa!! Gifting your clients with little time capsules of who they are, as they are now, and how much they love each other is the BESTTTT feeling in the worldddd!! And that is exactly what your primary focus needs to be on: providing your clients with the best, most memorable, stress-free experience… NOT on how many followers you have, buying the newest equipment, and keeping up with other photographers. Don’t get intimidated or think the industry too saturated… there IS a spot for you and it WILL be fun/ worth it!!
So just remember while you’re on this fun journey of creative growth and reading through these tips… that it’s alllllll about your brides/their love and above all else… have fun with it!! xo
1. Learn How to Shoot in Manual/RAW
There’s nothing more frustrating than setting up a really cute shoot as a beginner and physically not being able to shoot it the way you want (besides being in auto, which sucks). Spend time with your equipment alone before letting people step in front of the lens. Shoot your dog, the flowers outside, your shoelaces, whatever – just practice balancing the aperture, ISO, & shutter speed with all types of lighting and slowwwww downnnnn… Get that basic understanding settled before feeling embarrassed or stressed in front of a paying client. (I literally printed out this cheat sheet and carried it with me in my camera bag everywhere I went until I felt comfortable without it… it’s probably still in there, actually!! lol!!)
2. Invest in Your Education
I stronglyyyy recommend attending a workshop or buying a mentor session from someone you really admire. When I first started, I went to this workshop hosted by Olivia Markle and Tessa Tadlock and literally learned everything I needed to know within 3 days!! Everyone was so supportive, encouraging, willing to help, and all of that knowledge would have taken me soooo long to learn on my own… I was VERY happy to pay to learn from their experiences. There’s really no need to reinvent the wheel when you can learn from someone else’s mistakes and take a head start. I know I definitely struggled with paying so much money up front for the experience, but I ended up learning sooo many insider secrets and having the best weekend evaaaa… would you rather pay a couple hundred dollars now to have a dope weekend with like-minded creatives (aka: new friends)? Or waste years of your life struggling to learn it on your own (aka: allllllll alone)?
3. Shoot for Free
I know there’s lots of differing opinions on this one… some think shooting for free/cheap hurts the market for other photographers who shoot for their full time paycheck… but I think it’s really okay (and necessary) when you’re just starting out. Clients usually don’t want to pay you for photography if they’ve never seen your work — why should they trust that it will be worth their hard-earned money?? You need to set up specific shoots for free, designed with your ideal-client in mind, and market the heckkkk out of those so people can see how amaaaazing you are… and when clients start reaching out to you for shoots… that’s your time to start charging money!! (When you reach the point of trying to price yourself… read this article first to help you price your worth!!)
4. Research Your Style
You (and everyone) are obviously drawn to certain types of photos. Go through your saved pins & saved instagram photos and make note of the commonalities… are the photos darker or lighter? Contrasted or faded? Do they have lots of colors or are they desaturated? Are the subjects facing the camera with a serious editorial look or are they jumping around being silly, happy, and laughing? Physically write down the things you are certain you like (colors, editing style, poses, the feelings you get when you look at the picture, etc.) and build the details of every session’s inspiration around that list (without directly copying another photographer’s work — heads up: photographer’s will notice when someone copies them)!!
5. Be Consistent
When you’re first starting out, there will definitely be a lot of trial and error going on as far as colors, poses, locations, and your overall style until you find what works best for you… but you should still try to always present your best self. Treat instagram as a “portfolio” of your best work (plz plz plz don’t post everything you’ve ever shot… post the shots that you want MORE of) and use apps like Plann or Planoly to make sure it flows aesthetically and try to post on a consistent basis. Your feed and how it represents you as a photographer will be a big deciding factor in whether a couple chooses to hires you or not… so don’t slack!!
6. Make Friends in the Industry
Growing in photography (and in life lol) is a millionnnnn times better and easier when you are friends with other like-minded creatives who constantly motivate you, set up shoots together, and dream bigger together!! You cannnn go far alone, but you can go furtherrrrr with a supportive team behind you!! Take time to research your location’s “photographer” hashtag (ex: #fresnoweddingphotographer) and reach out to the ones you admire to connect over coffee!! Bonus tip: you should also try to find out if your town has monthly meetings of creatives who get together to network (like Rising Tide Society or Fresno Photogs!) #communityovercompetition
7. Just Have Fun with It!!
The photographers that stand out the most are the ones who create shoots you’ve never seen before. They’re the rule breakers, risk takers, and path leaders. If you think something might be cool to try… TRY IT! Once you get going, you’ll really start to learn your style and what you gravitate towards… and once you find what you love, do more of those things!! I’m obsessed with living in a world where everyone does what they love, is happy, and helps each other grow!! Just be kind to people, make friends, have fun, be true to yourself, & enjoy having the literal best job in the world!!!
Hope you found these tips helpful!! If you have any questions or would like to learn about anything specific… please feel free to leave a comment or DM me here to connect!! (cover photo: featuring the babes from the AMAZING Yellow workshop in Joshua Tree National Park!!)