How To Start A Wedding Photography Business – Wondering how to start a wedding photography business in 2022? Wedding photography can be a very rewarding and enjoyable job. But how do you get started? What steps would you take to get out of the wedding photography business?
We’ll shed some light on everything you need to consider as you build your business. Whether you’re thinking about a career change, a side hustle or just starting your career, this blog is a roadmap for your journey. Let’s dive in.
How To Start A Wedding Photography Business
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Steps To Level Up Your Business
This is an important part of drafting any kind of business plan: one of the first steps in how to start a wedding photography business is to get a good idea of what kind of expenses you will incur. There are two main types of expenses you will face when you start a business: start-up expenses and ongoing expenses.
As a wedding photographer, your start-up costs will center on equipment and tools, while your ongoing costs will be more on time and care. Let’s see.
The biggest up-front cost for anyone looking into how to start a wedding photography business is equipment. Your camera and lenses are the backbones of your business, and there’s no real way to make this investment. You’ll also need to make sure you have a portable hard drive and the right memory card.
When you’re starting out, try making two lists: your must-haves, and then the aspirational equipment you hope to invest in as your business grows.
Wedding Photography Business Card Template
Other set-up costs are less significant in terms of totals, but not insignificant. You’ll need to pay for your business registration, your website domain and hosting, and editing tools like Lightroom. Beyond that, there are some optional but worthwhile costs to consider: printing business cards, for example, or the pro version of a scheduling tool like Tailwind or a design tool like of Canva. But more on that later!
In your start-up costs, you also need to consider the typical day-to-day costs of running your business. This can be a little difficult to map out when you’re just starting out because there’s always an element of trial-and-error when you’re venturing into new territory. It is better to overestimate these costs than to underestimate them.
You will incur recurring fees such as your website domain and any other subscriptions. When you’re just starting out as a wedding photographer, you’ll likely have to cover some of your own travel expenses, too.
The biggest thing to be aware of here as you start building your photography business is your time. Your time is valuable, and remember, for every hour of shooting, you have a lot of editing and processing time to consider as well. Not to mention client communication and marketing! Find out how much time a job takes, outside of actual shooting hours. Then, figure out how much time a week goes into everything else: your marketing, networking, and general upkeep.
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Now that you know what your outputs are, you have an idea of the type of compensation you’ll need to make a profit. It’s time to set your initial prices.
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to pricing for wedding photographers. Your pricing depends on many factors: experience, location, and type of photography. Someone learning how to start a wedding photography business in the heart of Orange County will have a different pricing scale than a photographer in rural Arkansas. That’s why it’s so important to research your local market.
Talking to other local wedding photographers helps a lot here. If possible, take one of them to coffee and pick their brains. How much did they charge when they started? How do they calculate their current pricing?
You’ll also want to make sure you know the average rates for second shots in your area.
Uplevel Your Wedding Photography Brand & Business In 2022
Now that you have an idea of your inputs and outputs, it’s time to create a business plan and provisional timeline for developing your business.
Again, it’s very helpful to talk to other photographers while you’re doing this. No business grows at exactly the same pace, but talking to people who have gone before you will help you create a realistic plan. Knowing what to expect will also prevent you from getting discouraged.
Dream big and start small! You will grow gradually, so set achievable and realistic goals. Start with a number of weddings you want to shoot or a second shoot in a year. At first, you’ll likely be doing freelance photography part-time while you build your portfolio, so make a plan for supporting yourself with this work.
This is a good time to start thinking about your target market: who is your ideal couple, and what is your ideal marriage? Keeping these goals in mind will help you make decisions about where to take your brand and what kind of jobs you accept.
Tips To Increase Productivity For Your Wedding Photography Business
Boring, but important: if you want to learn how to start a wedding photography business, you have to go all the official routes! Once you have a business plan and the equipment you need, it’s time to form an LLC, register with the federal government for taxes, and open a bank account in your business name.
Now that you have a lot of admin on starting a wedding photography business, it’s time to build your portfolio! Building your portfolio is one of the biggest elements of how to start a wedding photography business. Your portfolio is the backbone of your marketing and your website, and therefore your credibility with potential clients.
You may have some leads to potential clients willing to hire you without a large portfolio of your work: usually, these are friends and family members. Engagement shoots and engagement parties are often great things to offer at this stage as they are not as high-profile as a wedding. At this point, taking smaller shoots (always with appropriate compensation!) is a great way to build your portfolio.
When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to offer services for free. It doesn’t set a good precedent, and it’s unfair to you and your skills and expertise! Even if you don’t charge full price, it’s important to make sure you get paid right from the start of your business.
A Photography Business Checklist For Wedding Photographers
Another way to build your portfolio is to work with local businesses, preferably wedding vendors. Get opportunities to partner with other people and create win-wins with smaller shoots that showcase products and services while also creating beautiful images for you to display on your website.
Working as a second shooter at weddings is probably the most effective way to get your foot in the door of the industry and start your own wedding photography business. When you work as a second shooter, you assist a more experienced photographer as they shoot a wedding. It’s not only a fantastic way to build your portfolio, it’s also the best way to learn!
When you’re starting out as a second shooter, let wedding photographers know you respect them. You can contact them directly explaining your experience and the reasons why you want to work with them specifically. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the job, but it helps put you on their radar as someone they can call if they need a second shooter in the future.
There will likely also be Facebook groups and email lists for secondary shooters in your area – joining these can be a great way to connect with the community, learn about going rates, and hear about opportunities to shoot weddings.
How To Start A Wedding Photography Business In 2022
There are a few things you should keep in mind when you are working as a second shooter at a wedding. One of the most important parts of this is to talk to the photographer ahead of time and make sure you have the rights to share the images you’re taking. Be very clear from the start that you want to use these images on your website and in your portfolio so there are no misunderstandings down the line.
Working as a second shooter is also an opportunity to get to know different venues, vendors, and wedding planners in your area. Keep your connections with them for the future – you never know when those connections will come in handy.
As you gain experience behind the camera, you will begin to establish your style and the type of content and subjects that interest you. Of course, if you’re just starting your wedding photography business, you may not know exactly what niche you want to be, so you’ll want to try different things.
Ideally, however, instead of just doing all the work that comes your way, you pitch
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