The Skills You Need to Become a
Professional Wedding Photographer
As a professional wedding photographer, you’ll have a unique opportunity to take part in the most important day of a person’s life. But you will also have the critical responsibility of taking photos that will make the memories of that day last forever!
That’s why, before taking the first steps along this career path, it is important to make sure that you are well equipped for the journey ahead. Here you will find the essential toolkit of skills to hone to exceed your client's expectations.
Becoming a Professional Wedding Photographer: Setting Your Expectations
If you have been studying photography, you know that your skills can cross over into multiple industries, including the wedding sector. Nonetheless, just because you are crafty with your professional camera, it doesn't necessarily mean that wedding photography is your calling!
Becoming a wedding photographer is a customer-facing job that requires a significant time and effort commitment, and can easily lead to burnout if practiced without passion.
What’s more, your daily tasks will involve much more than just taking photos at a wedding! On average, photographers spend most of their time communicating with their clients, replying to emails, decorating the wedding venue, and editing the photos taken before, during, and after the ceremony.
So, before diving into the essential soft and hard skills below, make sure you set your expectations correctly by reviewing a wedding photographer’s job description and consulting other professionals in the industry.
Communication skills are vital across any industry, but they are especially so in the field of wedding photography.
A significant part of your job will involve communicating with clients, listening to their preferences, offering professional recommendations, and, above all, bringing their vision to life. To achieve all this, you’ll need to master your active listening skills and build a solid relationship with your clients.
If you are unsure how to get started, consider offering an initial consultation with the to-be-weds to get to know their personality, history, and love story.
Wedding photography is all about capturing the special, intimate memories that make a wedding truly special - and doing so in a way that those emotions will live forever through your shots.
While setting professional boundaries is important, the ability to empathize with brides, grooms, and their loved ones will help you understand the sentiment behind a glance, a hug, or a handshake - and take a meaningful photo!
Creativity and Lateral Thinking
Becoming a wedding photographer is one of the best career options for creative people. And, when shooting at a wedding, you’ll have the chance to let your creativity run free!
After all, no two marriage ceremonies or receptions are exactly the same! Tapping into your creative flair and lateral thinking abilities can help you make the most of the situation, no matter whether the venue offers a stunning natural background, or you need to make do with a dimly lit room!
An Eye for Details
If you have a photo book that reflects the emotion of your wedding day, you’ll know what makes a photo album truly special. Beyond the group photos and dramatic shots taken when posing, the real feelings come through from the details that you are able to immortalize.
Whether it is a family heirloom worn by the bride, a candid hug shared between the groom and his mother, or a glance shared between the to-be-weds, your attention to detail can truly make a difference in the end result!
Patience and Time Management
When shooting at a wedding, you’ll probably be eager to complete the list of previously agreed-upon shots. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is a couple’s most special day, and you’ll have to work around the wedding’s schedule - which is nearly never exactly on time!
Instead, work on crafting a recommended timeline to share with your clients and hone your time management skills.
Quick-Thinking and Problem-Solving
While, according to experts, couples spend over a year planning their wedding, things rarely go as planned! You might have to deal with a rainy day or a bride feeling embarrassed by a pimple, but you can’t let go of your responsibility of taking perfect shots of this magical day!
Whether you have always been a natural problem-solver or you need to strategize for a while to find the right solution, you should always be prepared to deal with any challenge that might come up at the last minute!
Honing your problem-solving skills and quick-thinking abilities can help you find alternative solutions on the spot and prevent a minor hiccup from ruining your clients’ wedding day.
Pro tip - if you are struggling with stress or anxiety, make sure to think about several worst-case scenarios and come up with options before the wedding day takes place. While quick thinking helps, nothing is as important as being prepared!
Proactivity and Self-Motivation
As a wedding photographer, you will be running your own business. This means building your client base from scratch, establishing a robust reputation, reaching out to new clients, networking with other professionals in the industry, and partnering with other vendors.
At first, this can be a daunting project, especially if your business skills require honing.
However, luckily, the wedding photography industry is bouncing back alongside other niches in the sector, and over 90% of the over 1.9 million couples getting married in 2021 hired a photographer.
But while the industry is booming and wedding photographers make, on average, over $50,953 a year in the US, the competition for new entries has never been fiercer. Make sure to work on your business skills, establish your business from the ground up, and don’t be afraid of rejection!
Hone Your Hard Skills
The soft skills above make up for 75% of your expertise as a wedding photographer and are what will set you apart from other professionals.
However, since most couples will be looking for a vendor with the capabilities to bring their vision to life, there are also some important technical skills you'll need to master to build a solid resume.
Dexterity with a range of photography styles
Ability to use photoshop and lightroom for photo editing
The basics of videography
Using specialized equipment and professional tools
Selecting cameras and lenses in accordance with the wedding’s unique requirements
Composition and balance
Ability to adapt to the couple’s vision and guidelines
Even if you have acquired the technical skills above through past projects and job roles, you should consider investing in a specialized training course that allows you to better understand the unique nuances of wedding photography.
Finally, never stop learning and building your portfolio!
About the Author
Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.