"In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality." - Alfred Stieglitz

Engagements, baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays, and weddings are all occasions that people want to capture forever.

Photographs from occasions such as these and many others are underrated. They connect the dots for families for generations to come and can ultimately be priceless!

This is one of the reasons why wedding photography is an investment that many people are willing to make! Photographs taken by a wedding photographer can be revisited for years to come and provide important archives for a family’s history.

If a career in photography is of interest to you, do not underestimate the significance that your wedding photos will have for years into the future. Professional wedding photography is a serious business and requires that the wedding photographer be proficient in several technical aspects as well, but also social ones too!  

If you would like to find out more about what goes into a wedding shoot, or what would qualify you to become a successful wedding photographer, then keep reading because this article is for you.

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Finding Work as a Wedding Photographer  

As a career, professional wedding photography is a lucrative one, and photographers who are able to specialise in a wedding photoshoot are generally very busy in South Africa from around the end of October until the end of May. Prices for professional wedding photos can vary greatly and be anything from R1 000 to R30 000 and much more. It all depends on the experience, background, and reputation of the photographer.

To pay an average of R10 000 to R20 000 for wedding photos may seem absurd, but consider that not only will you be supplying priceless memories of a lifetime, but you experience, knowledge, equipment, insurance, computer gear, editing software, travel, and time as well. Do not forget that you may also be paying for a second shooter and that editing wedding photos can take days and weeks to do properly.

If you are an inexperienced photographer looking to make a name for yourself in the professional wedding photography business, remember that you will need to work very hard in the beginning and that your wedding photoshoot prices will need to be low while you build up a reputation, experience, and portfolio.

bridal bouquet and white wedding shoes on floor
Being a second shooter at weddings will help amateur photographers gain experience and impress future clients. - Source: Pexels

Your plan should be to have a plan! Here are a few tips to help establish yourself as a sought-after wedding photographer:

  • Set up a website, blog, and social pages: through your online presence, your potential clients can not only check out your work, but also get a sense of who you are, your personal brand, professionalism, and way of doing things.
  • Second shooter experience: working as a second shooter will give you the experience of handling the pressure of a wedding photoshoot. It will also build up your portfolio.
  • Create a network: wedding photography is only one aspect of the thriving wedding industry. Make sure that you introduce yourself and your work to caterers, bands, DJs, cake-makers, videographers, florists, and planners who could recommend you for a wedding photoshoot. Choose suppliers who are aligned with your own personal style. Stay in touch with them and maintain the connection.
  • The best kind of advertising: you could advertise by asking a digital marketer to help you to link google ads to your website, but remember that the best advertising for professional wedding photography is always a word of mouth recommendation. Not only will you be recommended for your wedding photos but also for your professionalism, politeness, and ability to somehow seem invisible as a wedding photographer on the day!  

While it might be challenging to get into wedding photography, it can become a rewarding photography career.

And just as sports photography is a popular category for sports enthusiasts so is portrait photography for those who love to capture human emotion.

Essentials for a Wedding Photoshoot

bride and groom embracing in a wheat field at sunset
Build a career capturing unique moments with your camera. - Source: Pexels

From the bride walking down the aisle and the exchanging of vows to the first dance and cutting of the cake, there are so many meaningful moments to capture on a wedding day.  

The responsibility for immortalising these valuable scenes is the reason why professional wedding photography has become such a sought-after professional.  

To achieve wedding photos that are professional, and where there is great attention to detail means that the photographer needs to ensure that certain things are in place.

Here are a few tips to ensure that a wedding photoshoot runs smoothly and without any hiccups.

  • Have Backups: imagine the disaster of being on a wedding photoshoot and your camera equipment fails? Offering professional wedding photography will require you to have a backup camera, lens, and flash.
  • Extra Memory Cards and Batteries: Besides ensuring that you have a fully charged extra battery and charger, make you that you don’t under-cater when it comes to memory cards. You will not have time during the day to download images so rather make sure you have plenty of available gigabytes.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: the energy required for wedding photography is not unlike what is needed for an endurance sporting event! Make sure that you look smart, but comfortable, especially when it comes to your shoes.
  • Bring Snacks: there will be very little time to sit down and refuel so make sure you have a proper breakfast as well as nuts, a banana, water bottle, and snack bar in your camera bag to keep you going.

The more prepared you can be the better, so by taking all of this into account, your chances of your initiation into professional wedding photography will be a triumph.

Like any other style of photography, wedding photography requires specialised preparation, equipment, and environmental considerations. So just like you would prepare for wildlife photography, make sure you put the same effort into your wedding photoshoot.

Photography Tips for Beginners

bride and groom walking down the aisle
Bring extra flashes, lenses, and cameras to wedding shoots in case of malfunctions. - Source: Pexels

Do you want to be the best you can be in your chosen profession? Do you want to take photographs like Annie Leibowitz, Steve McCurry or Mario Testino? Are you interested in creating art?

There is no doubt photography is a form of art!

Creating art is filled with techniques by experts that should be taken into consideration.

While some photographers are born with natural talent that can fast-track their success, many of the best photographers around today have attained success through hard work, passion, determination, and studying the experts in their field.

When it comes to all the do’s and don’ts associated with photography these are exhaustive. It is highly recommended to do a course or study photography with a private tutor. However, in the meantime, here are just a few quick tips for photography amateurs:

  • Beware of too much light: the issue of light is one of the cornerstones of good photography. In fact, some would say it is everything. Make sure that you choose appropriate times of day to shoot. Too much light, like the midday sun, will wash out your image and make it appear flat. As a rule of thumb, choose softer light closer to dawn or sunset. Always consider where your subject is in relation to the light that you have available.
  • Know which lens to use: different styles of photography will require different lenses and if you are investing in a wedding photography career, you will need a zoom lens for portraits and a standard or a wide-angle lens for your group shots. Always try to crop your image in the lens and not in post-production.
  • Post-production: Firstly, you will find that professional photographers shoot RAW files which provide the highest quality images. Processing RAW files will require that you have editing software like Lightroom, Photoshop or Bridge, and while editing is a course all of its own, it is something that is essential to give your images that professional look.

Remember that even the most famous photographers have usually had humble beginnings. Before you go and invest in the most expensive camera gear consider starting out on second-hand, borrowed, or hire equipment until you know which style of photography suits you best.

If you decide that fashion photography is where you want to focus, you will need different gear from the sports photographer or advertising photographer.

Finally, wedding photography can be a fulfilling and rewarding career for those who are professional, talented, and business-minded.

Don’t forget to add these final tips if you are planning on a career as a wedding photographer:

  • Look after your equipment
  • Continually look for inspiration and new techniques
  • Make sure you have a terms and conditions document
  • Take deposits
  • Master the art of digital editing
  • Consider working in another photography genre during winter when it is not ‘wedding season’
  • Back up your shoots adequately
  • Always under-promise and over-deliver!

As a wedding photographer, you will be contributing to priceless family history for generations to come.

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.