These are the 7 things I wish I knew starting a wedding photography business.
About 6 years ago I quit my career job working in TV to chase after the dream of being a full time wedding photographer. Along the way I’ve learned so many lessons and met so many people with varying advice and opinions. Here are a few things I would change or encourage myself with, if I were to start over from scratch. If you don’t want to read through the whole thing, you can click this link to watch the video or scroll to the bottom of this blog. 🙂
Photography Doesn’t Matter
The most successful wedding photographers are not necessarily the best photographers. They are the best at marketing and business. To be successful, how you present your work and yourself is the most important thing. That being said, your work and client experience must meet or exceed the expectations that you created with your presentation of work, or things will go south quickly.
Don’t make your own presets
You can shave years off the amount of time and work it takes to grow by starting out using premade editing presets. They will be fine tuned and much more consistent than anything you will likely make starting out. I personally feel that I prolonged the success of my company by creating my own.
I don’t sell presets and probably won’t, so no this is not a marketing ploy, just my honest opinion. Whether you use purchased presets or not it’s important you edit your own images so you learn color science in relation to light. Editing your own images will greatly improve your shooting skills.
The first wedding I shot was for $200. This was perfectly fine, because that was what my skill level, client experience, and product were worth at the time. Early in my career I was told I needed to charge more and almost shamed by some for low prices. I drove my prices higher than I should have and that prolonged the success of my company.
Your presentation and product have to match your price. Your price, product, and presentation need to make sense in your market.
Don’t let anyone shame you for lower prices. Charge a fair price for what you are offering, do the little things, work hard, and increase your price as your value goes up. Long term I think it’s better to get more work now for a lower price and build your experience and skill level. This makes charging higher prices a heck of a lot easier and more ethical.
Professional web design
I’m terrible at design and social media. I used to always design my own website and every year redo it. I’ve lost years off of my life from the stress of trying to do this myself. Your website is your storefront and is a big communicator of your perceived value and place in the market. If you stink at web design, hire this out to someone who doesn’t stink at it. It will pay off with time to work on other things and easier bookings.
Stop Chasing Ideal Clients
Ideal client is a buzz term people love to use when they are trying to get you to buy an online course that is guaranteed to make you rich and your life easy just like theirs.
Wedding photography is the service industry. Every single photographer no matter how big or small deals with tough clients. Every single photographer deals with people who don’t get it. Every photographer deals with people who probably shouldn’t have booked them. If someone tells you they only work with their ideal clients, they are likely not telling you the truth.
Am I being a bit harsh? Absolutely. I’m trying to get across the reality of working in the service industry.
When you start out, your ideal client is the person who is willing to pay you money to take their picture. As you get a bigger portfolio and more experience, keep working on building your web and Instagram to attract people who are more in line with your style and are “ideal clients”.
When you’re a big shot photographer someday, you can be more selective of your clients and turn people away who you think don’t understand your art.
Get an accountant
I personally hate doing accounting and tax stuff. I have absolutely no interest in learning how. Getting an accountant has saved me money and has given me peace of mind and more time to work on things I like doing. Maybe you’re great at taxes and can figure it out. All the power to you! This is just my personal preference.
Don’t listen to advice
Many people think of themselves as entrepreneurs these days. The minute I started a business I had people literally seeking me out to try and give me advice. Everyone wants to give you advice and knows best what you should be doing. All of these people had absolutely no clue what they were talking about. I often find that people who can do, and people who can’t teach. If someone wants to give you business advice because they just read a couple self help books and watched a podcast, run for the hills – don’t second guess yourself. Stick to the plan, you don’t have to take their bad advice. You’ve got this!
If you can, find someone who is operating in the field and is already successful. Train with them and learn from them. They didn’t succeed on accident. You can find people like this by second shooting and participating in Facebook groups.