We love a good wedding, dressing up, champagne, canapés, confetti – what's not to like? If you want to be at the top of everyone's wedding invite list then considering a course in wedding photography might be a strong choice. Becoming a wedding photographer is a lot more than just taking photographs, it's about people skills, planning and adapting to situations on the fly. It's relationship reportage.
There are lots of wedding photography courses available to help you hone all of the skills needed for you to help the happy couple capture the day that they've been dreaming off. The Wedding photography industry is big business with photographers able to charge upwards of £1000 (and that's not for a top billing wedding photographer) and there doesn't seem to be much sign of the wedding industry taking a lull. Assuming that you aren't a novice with a camera, a wedding photography course will have you ready and raring to go. If you are picking up a camera for the first time though, don't fret, there are plenty of beginner courses on offer too.
Having the right kit
If you are planning to go into this as a professional, then that means eventually having professional grade kit and, with the guidance of your tutor, most courses will allow you to explore the different types of equipment available to you. So we're talking a professional grade camera, most likely a digital SLR shooting with RAW. A digital SLR will allow you to review your images as you shoot and quickly detect and alter mistakes and high quality images for editing. Travelling light set ups are more and more commonly used these days too, to ensure the couple look their best from every angle.
How are you supposed to get hired if you haven't yet shot a wedding? People don't want an amateur to shoot their wedding – or do they? Many now-professional photographers started out by offering their services for free, or shooting a wedding that has a photographer already on board from the shadows (if they don't mind of course – do seek permission). Shadowing photographers that are already working in the field is a great way to gain that all important experience and a course will help connect you to who's who in the industry. If all else fails, stage it! Staging it gives you the time to think about what equipment and camera settings you'd need to use in different situations.
A once in a lifetime event! Phew. No pressure then? Not the case! Wedding photography is a big deal to all involved. Planning with the couple, knowing as much about what they want out of the documentation as possible before the event is crucial; define success with them. Find out as much as you can about the shooting environment – be prepared, have the right equipment with you and, where needed, have spares – spare batteries, spare memory cards, spare bulbs, even spare clothes. That's right, clothes; photographing a wedding day is exhausting and non-stop and you need to be able to look after yourself in order to take the best photos of the day.
Capturing a wedding requires cooperation; it's a team event involving everyone, from the bride to the caterers. The whole event is being captured and that means everyone needs to be on board. Being able to make people relax in front of a camera is a really important skill and blending into the group will allow you to capture a lot of the fun easily rather than people shying away whenever you come near.
Balancing the seasonal work load
Goodbye weekends. Weddings more often than not fall on a weekend and are long events – some can last in excess of 48 hours – so be prepared to work at times when you're friends aren't. One the other hand, you’ll to meet a whole host of new people and do something really different and rewarding each time you take your camera out. Do more weddings happen in the winter than in the summer? The jury is out on that one but wedding photographers tend to find that the spring months are typically very busy.
Find your own style
There are many different ways to shoot a wedding depending on the character of the couple in question and the type of event that they are having. A wedding photography course will help you get to grips with the different styles out there and allow you to find what suits you.
Styles range from traditional, photojournalistic through to more contemporary and even studio set-ups. A traditional style would comprise of more posed pictures in common settings; documentation style photography captures the entire story of the day spending time with the couple separately and capturing the detail of the entire days event; and a photojournalistic approach is similar though a little more candid, capturing the detail with the photographer left a lot to their own devices. Contemporary wedding photography is increasingly popular with couples wanting to capture the atmosphere of the day as opposed to frequently stopping for posed images – after all they are relatively preoccupied with other things! A contemporary shoot might include some posed images capturing the couple with input from them, but the main focus would be on capturing the day. A photographer in this scenario would be paying a lot of attention to changing lighting and composition.
Before you can find frequent work as a wedding photographer, you’ll need to get your name out there. There are a number of options for advertising, for example wedding magazines and wedding fares, but your strongest chance of getting booked again is your work. Word of mouth is a strong advocate in this business – do a good job at Sarah's wedding and she'll be sure to recommend you to Tim for his!
By Sarah Butcher