You’ve decided to become a wedding photographer. You’ve chosen a profession that requires many different skills, not the least of which is your ability to take a great picture. Friends or family may have already hired you, but now it’s time for a professional set up and run a successful business than just having a service to offer. This blog is intended to help you achieve your dream of working on your own, providing a unique wedding photography service to deserving clients, and doing it all successfully.
What is the cost of running a wedding photography business?
First and foremost, let’s get the necessities out of the way. If you’re going into business as a wedding photographer, there are certain things you have to have at a minimum the basics if you like to get you started and they are:
- Professional email address
- A solid marketing plan
- Photography equipment
- Home office
- Second photographer
- Insurance, taxes, business license, and bank accounts
- Printing partner
- Photography software
- Portfolio presentation products
- Marketing material
What are your USP’s?
In other words, what unique skills do you have that others will want to pay for? If you don’t know this, then now is a good time to think about your competitors, perhaps look at their packages and see what you can offer that is different or how your style is different. You will also want to make sure you can handle the responsibility associated with wedding photography. This is an exceptional day in a newly married couples life, so you have to be sure you can take on the immense responsibility of capturing every moment of that day. Once you have both of those, then it’s on to looking at the other aspects that make up a business owner’s skill set, such as attention to detail, customer-centric thinking, and patience.
Everything is in the detail!
Details are important in wedding photography because If you don’t pay attention to those details, you can quickly get a bad reputation, or worse – not getting paid. As a photographer, you’ll need to pay attention to the details of the wedding and focus on the aspects of the business. These details include the wording on your wedding contract, the promises you make to your clients, and your ability to keep track of the different weddings you might have throughout the year. This leads us to the next important part, being customer-centric.
Remember the customer is always right!
If you learn how to make your customers happy you’ll get repeat business, referrals, and a better reputation within your community. There is no secret to making your customers happy but here are some guidelines to consider:
- Always deliver what you promise. If you say it will take two months to edit their photos, it shouldn’t take three.
- Make sure you block out space in your diary to do this, so you don’t fall foul of being behind on delivering.
- Be quick about your replies. Set yourself apart by replying to all inquiries within 24 hours at the most. This will show that your keen on wanting the business.
- Be courteous, friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful before, during, and after the wedding.
- Always keep in your thoughts that this is someone’s special day.
- When you are edited your wedding photos remember that while this is a job to you, it’s someone’s wedding day, so every picture deserves the same level of attention as the first.
- Arrive early. Being early to meetings, weddings, and events will allow you to prepare yourself for those events. It also has the added benefit of making you look more professional and trustworthy.
- Dress appropriately. Black or natural colours are always a good choice for photographers. Dressing business casual for most weddings will be sufficient but always check with the couple if in doubt. Remember, while you should look professional, you should also be comfortable.
It takes hard work to make a business successful and even given all of the right ingredients it still might fail. Also if it fails, learn from your mistakes, try again, and try and try and try. Never give up on something as important to you as pursuing your dream. If you have to work a day job during the week while getting your business off the ground then so be it. If you have to learn how to design websites just to put up your site, so be it. If you have to shoot weddings for free to build up a portfolio then so be it. Just don’t give up.
Equipment and Home Office
Setting up a wedding photography business entails you having the appropriate gear to get the job done, on location and at home. However, it doesn’t mean you have to go into debt to get it done. You can upgrade as you go along. There are three different categories camera gear falls into consumer (average joe), prosumer (avid hobbyists), and pro (for people who do this for a living). The problem is when you start in wedding photography you’re not doing this for a job yet. You’re trying to do this for a living. So live within your means and purchase gear that will work for your price range. Just make sure you have the right amount of backup items. The is important to have backups of everything: back up cameras, back up lenses, back up computers, backup images, back up memory cards, back up everything. Because while you may never need any of them, the one time you don’t have a backup camera, your shutter will lock up, and you will have just cost a bride and groom their images. Even with photographer’s insurance, at this point, you’d be hard pressed to justify the failure to the insurance company, not to mention the bride and groom.
After every wedding, you should back up all your images onto the computer’s hard drive and a second external hard drive or DVD set or upload directly to a photography software such as Studio Partner Roes or Designer Pro.
Marketing your business
So you’ve got your portfolio online, and you’re waiting for your first call or email and…nothing. Where do you go from here? Have no fear; Google is here. Without a well-defined marketing plan, you will not see many returns from your online portfolio. There are many pitfalls along the way to a good marketing plan, including wasted time, money, and increased frustration. You aim to be top of Google for the area in which you cover. The two primary areas of online marketing are paid search and organic search and they should be done separately. The next thing is your wedding photography portfolio album and presentation boxes. Finally, you will need business cards and/or other marketing promotional items.