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How to Start a Wedding Photography Business in 5 Simple Steps

Today we’re talking about how to start a wedding photography business. If you wait for the perfect business plan or for your photography skills to be at an expert level, you’ll never get anywhere. The best way to start is to get started and then worry about growth and fine-tuning.

Below are 5 Simple Steps to get yourself in the right mindset for starting a wedding photography business. Keep reading or check out the YouTube video version as well as some other relevant videos posted below. You’ll also love these unexpected business tips.

I have been a professional wedding photographer for over a decade and building a successful wedding photography business takes dedication and diligence. Hopefully, the tips I share will give you the skills and confidence to start your own wedding photography business. When we became wedding photographers, we soaked up knowledge from other more experienced wedding photographers so now we’re passing it on to you!

*Updated post!

1. Make it official

decide to be a professional photographer

Most wedding photographers seem to struggle with feeling like they’re professional. How many weddings would you say you need to shoot to start a wedding photography business and put your business name out there? If you want the truth, it doesn’t matter, what matters is deciding to start wherever you are.

That’s why the first step in how to start a wedding photography business is to make it official. Decide that you’re going to do it. That’s the first step, the decision.

Once you decide to start your own business there are a few ways to make it official. You can choose a business name, file a DBA, put up a wedding photography business website (I like wordpress, but squarespace is a fast and easy option), and open a business bank account so you can be sure to pay your state and federal taxes. Set up a business email (g-mail is our favorite and we use a lot of their features!)You can even change your profiles on all of your social media accounts to really make it official.

see and welcome opportunities

The key here is this:

Once you decide, you start seeing opportunities everywhere. It’s just like once you decide to buy a blue truck you see blue trucks everywhere. What you focus on grows, the grass is greener where you water it, or whatever your favorite way of saying that is! You’ll start to run into other business owners willing to share their tips and trips.

You want to start a wedding photography business? Start! Start with the camera you have and start with the time that you have. Just start.

I promise you’ll have time to perfect your wedding photography equipment and learn how to shoot more than just natural light. You can gradually upgrade from one to two or three lenses and then add in some dramatic flash. Start with a low-pressure engagement shoot or as a second shooter for an experienced photographer if you want, but just start.

2. Find clients

Once you make it official that you’re starting a wedding photography business, the ball starts rolling. You change your status or tell your friends and suddenly you find out that you know someone that needs a wedding photographer. Boom, your first client.

Now what? How do you find potential clients?

To be a wedding photographer, you need to take wedding photos and gain experience shooting weddings. To start a wedding photography business, you need to get paid for taking wedding photos. This might mean $500 or $5000 and in the beginning, it doesn’t matter.

market research

It’s helpful to see what local wedding photographers are doing and what they are charging because it will show you what your local market is like. If one wedding photographer seems to be charging significantly more than another, see if you can figure out why. Market research is a great first step to finding clients for your new wedding photography business and making sure you’re charging the right prices.

Many wedding photographers will take their market research and simply do what other photographers are doing. Instead, you’ll want to develop your photography style and set yourself apart. Potential clients want to know why they should hire you.

Some photographers will have a package that includes eight hours or more while others charge an hourly rate. Most of the time these days a wedding photography package includes editing and an online gallery so many couples expect that. You’ll also want to see if you can figure out where engaged couples are hanging out so you can determine how to market to them.

identifying your ideal clients

Our first wedding clients were friends or people we knew from work and I think they paid us $300. It was a win-win for all of us. It wasn’t going to allow us to quit our day jobs but it allowed us to pay for a website. And our friends didn’t get award-winning photos but they got photographers that worked really hard for them for a really good price.

If you can’t find clients, it’s a good strategy to work as a second shooter or ask some friends to model for you. It’s great to go to styled shoots or even plan your own stylized shoot that targets your ideal kind of work. But why not make a little money along the way to start building the business side of things too? The end goal is a profitable business after all.

You’ll want to slowly define and refine your target market. That means figuring out what types of weddings or elopements you want to photograph and for what types of clients. The better your wedding photography business brand and client experience, the better your referral program. Our best clients come from our best past clients.

marketing to potential clients

The best part about a wedding photography business is that you can raise your prices every year and not worry about losing clients because ideally, you’re getting new clients every year anyway! Luckily in the days of digital marketing, there are a ton of low-budget marketing ideas to start filling out your marketing plan: word of mouth, blogging, email marketing, and posting on social media are just a few.

Having great work will be a part of your marketing strategy too but don’t become too obsessed with creating the perfect portfolio. Your portfolio will evolve anyway as you grow as a photographer. Don’t worry about finding the perfect clients in the beginning, that too will come with time. Again, engagement shoots are a great way to get your feet wet.

We’re talking about starting. So start!

Here are some simple wedding photography marketing steps!

3. Take pictures

I’ve read a lot of advice over the years about building a business and becoming a photographer. There are no magic bullets, there is no secret sauce, there is no short cut. There’s just doing the work.

Want to build a photography business? Take pictures. Want to be a better photographer? Take pictures. Take more pictures, do the work, put in the time and the effort.

If you continue to take pictures, you’ll get better and you’ll find your style. If you take pictures, you’ll have pictures to put on a website or on social media. It’s so easy to get distracted by comparing your pictures to everyone else and learning everyone’s strategies for how to do a back flip.

Remember that we’re starting a business. We’re not snapping our fingers and having a full-blown business dropped in our laps.

We’re starting.

And we’re building.

Download our free guidebook: Build Your Life. Building a life and creative business you love.

4. Learn photography

You take pictures and then you learn. The best way to learn is to take pictures. The second best way to learn is to learn.

Find someone willing to teach and willing to share, we have a ton of content on our log like these easy camera settings. Discover free resources like those on CreativeLive or that good old fashion thing called the Library (gasp) that has free books. (Check out our recommended reading list.)

It’s also useful to learn wedding photography specifically. Learn what makes good wedding photography. That might mean what is popular or what appeals to you or what your clients want. It might mean portraiture, photojournalism, detail photos, or something else like how to use your wedding camera settings.

Make a pinterest board or an inspiration folder where you curate photos that you like and admire. What sets them apart? What makes them good? Study photography and feel free to imitate it even at first. Your unique style and creativity will grow and develop as you learn more.

We also have some YouTube videos, here’s one to get you started:

5. Learn business

In addition to photography, learn about business. Learn about marketing and accounting and making a budget. Learn about pricing and selling.

Here’s the good news, the process is the same as above when we talking about learning photography. Find someone willing to teach, discover free resources, and consume everything you can.

Don’t agree with everything right away. There’s a lot of advice out there where people give you their road map. Your road map is going to be different. The way you build your business will impact the type of clients you attract. I can tell you what I think is most important about business, but you need to discover what’s most important to you.

aspects of the business to learn

Running a business costs money, keep your start up costs low to keep the pressure low. Then add expenses as your business grows and you start to generate revenue. Be sure to catch up on marketing and accounting in your slow season or better yet add another income stream when you’re not busy with weddings.

Calculate your ongoing expenses and put together a budget. Look at your target market and estimate the prices you would like to be charging. Some easy math will help you calculate how much business you need to drum up to make a living and set yearly goals.

If you want to be able to go full-time, you’ll need the data to prove that your business can survive. You won’t get paid by the hour for a lot of what you do but everything you do can be seen as a long-term investment in yourself.

business tools

For those of you that want information on setting up the business stuff, here are some tools we love:

  • Tave: Client Management software for sending quotes, invoices, and tracking income.
  • Trello: To-do list, collaboration, blog calendar, this app helps us stay organized and productive.

how to start a wedding photography business in 5 simple steps:

I hope you enjoyed this post on starting a wedding photography business. Whether you’re just taking that brave step to call yourself a wedding photographer of you’ve been doing wedding photography for a few years, I wish you luck. But more important than luck, I wish you hard work that pays off.

  1. Make it official and you’ll start seeing opportunities everywhere.
  2. Find clients
  3. Take pictures
  4. Learn photography
  5. Learn business

Want to do deeper? Stay tuned for our next post on Wedding Photography Tips for Beginners!

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more resources

I can wait for your to start your wedding photography business! It’s incredible to have a window into people’s lives on such a big day. One of the main reasons I love photography is witnessing and telling the love stories.

Recent Building a Life and Tips for Wedding Photographers you might enjoy:

We are Marc and Brenda Bergreen, a husband and wife photography team specializing in outdoor weddings and other adventures. Capturing people in nature and the mountain lifestyle is a passion that became a dream that became a life.

We don’t link to a lot of things but when there are books or gear we love we’ll share it and links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Based in Evergreen, CO we travel throughout the state as Colorado adventure wedding photographers. We also frequently travel to California and other wedding destinations to document love and adventure in a variety of memorable settings. Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know how we can help! Be sure to follow us (weddings instagram & adventures instagram) and/or like us (facebook) to stay tuned.

In the meantime, remember to…

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