83 *easy* steps to becoming a wedding photographer

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Not a day goes by without me receiving some sort of message asking me how to become a wedding photographer.

So, I thought i’d break it down to 83 *easy* steps to becoming a wedding photographer.

  1. Grow up with a dad who has really fancy cameras. Come home from school to see him going through B&H catalogues trying to decide what lens he might like to buy next.
  2. Start going to camera clubs with your dad. Realise that it’s a heckuva lot of fun taking photos.
  3. Be in a situation where your dad is dying and you realise that with the camera you can capture precious moments.
  4. At the age of 14, sit next to your dad the night before he dies as he tells you, “Don’t just get a desk job, do something you love. I wish i’d been a photographer or camera man instead of an accountant”.
  5. Inherit your dads professional level film camera gear.
  6. Get a job at a camera store where you print photos and sell cameras.
  7. Sneakily process your own film.
  8. Start working for the local newspaper filling in when their main photographers back was too sore from carrying too much camera gear.
  9. Learn how to shoot everything from sports to advertising, current events to chasing ambulances.
  10. Realise that you can’t really pay your bills being a part time photographer. Have 5 casual jobs including working as a telemarketer, dish washer, barman, gym instructor (yes, I’m serious) and taking school photos.
  11. Realise you can make $250 per day taking wedding photos, or $150 from taking school photos.
  12. Accept a wedding for $250 pay. Screw up. Get fired the next day. Offer to help your boss paint his new office the same day.
  13. Get a business card made. Make sure it’s on orange cardboard and in bubble writing.
  14. Get your wisdom teeth out. Get asked by the receptionist to photograph her wedding. Get asked to go around to her place to show her more of your work. Walk to her place as you don’t have your license yet. Show them a DVD you made of photos of puppies, kittens, landscapes and sports photos and somehow try and convince them it’s a good idea to let you shoot their wedding.
  15. Have them pay you $500 to shoot their wedding.
  16. Buy every wedding magazine you can find to help you learn what wedding photos should look like.
  17. Spend $3k on new camera gear a few days before their wedding so that you have a back up camera.
  18. Break the back up camera and your main camera both before you finish the bridal prep photos on the day of the wedding.howto02
  19. Sit on their front porch crying wondering what to do.
  20. Call your friend and have them deliver a Canon 10d to you, when you’ve never shot with a Canon before in your life.
  21. Simultaneously learn how to photograph a wedding and also learn a new camera system while on the job.
  22. Stay up all night editing the photos then arriving at their house the next morning with the photos all printed out.
  23. Impress them and their friends and have everyone they know hire you.
  24. Realise that people seem to think you’re a great choice for their wedding (yet you’re 18 years old and have no idea what you’re doing)
  25. Put some ads in the local newspaper. Spend half your day coming up with silly phrases that you can add to your ads… for example “let me shoot you”.
  26. Contact your hero (Simon James) and ask him if he will help you learn the finer details of wedding photography. He agrees. You save his voicemail confirming this and listen to it regularly like a true stalker. Travel to Melbourne to live with him and be his shadow.
  27. Have him tell you that you are the worst assistant he’s ever had, but that’s ok… as he didn’t really need my help anyway.
  28. Buy Canon camera gear as that’s what your hero had.
  29. Still have absolutely no idea how to use flash properly.
  30. howto01
  31. Come back to your hometown thinking that you now know how to photograph weddings.
  32. Get a job in a computer store so that you can get cheaper computer tech/software.
  33. Buy cheap high capacity memory cards with your staff discount.
  34. Lose all the photos from a wedding up until the moment the bride walked down the aisle.
  35. Realise why those memory cards were cheap. Learn to buy the best.
  36. Up your prices a little to $750.
  37. Buy a new camera.
  38. Realise too late that the flash you had only fires at full power with that camera and you just shot a whole event where the people look like ghosts as they’re so overexposed.  howto03
  39. Buy a new flash and learn to shoot and edit Raw files.
  40. Up your prices again.
  41. Buy a new computer as your current computer can’t handle the raw files.
  42. Up your prices again.
  43. Spend all your time editing photos. Slowly watch your friends dwindle away.
  44. Hire someone to edit your photos and make your wedding albums.
  45. Start actually making some money and having a life again.
  46. Realise that you can now photograph more stuff in your free time. You can now be a wedding photography specialist, portrait specialist, advertising photography specialist, aerial photography specialist, fashion photography specialist and the list goes on.
  47. Go to a photography workshop. Learn a bunch of stuff but nothing about how to implement it seamlessly into your own business.
  48. Upset some clients because they weren’t aware of the changes you were making.
  49. Adjust your processes and realise how you’d do workshops differently if you ever ran them.
  50. Quit your other jobs.
  51. Go full time.
  52. Open up a shop front.
  53. Have people drop in every single day and make it almost impossible to get any work done.
  54. Hire someone to help you get your work done.
  55. Realise you don’t like having someone who relies on you to be able to eat.
  56. Close your office.
  57. Move to Sydney.
  58. meet a girl, fall in love, get married.
  59. Realise that you have absolutely no work as no one in the big city knows who you are.
  60. Realise that no one back home can afford your pricing as you realised you had to start charging an appropriate amount to be able to make a profit as well as being able to afford top quality gear, training, service etc.
  61. Network like a crazy fool. Start Facebook referral groups where you hope people will send you referrals for jobs.
  62. Be absolutely oblivious that doing business in the city is different to doing business in the country.
  63. Not meet clients expectations.
  64. Work harder to meet clients expectations.
  65. Start getting burnt out.
  66. Raise your prices.
  67. Work harder to bring in more jobs.
  68. Book jobs that aren’t necessarily ideal for you.
  69. Reinvent yourself.
  70. Start shooting for yourself more. Organise styled shoots etc.
  71. Have people who hire you for the work that you create when you are the one who is calling the shots.
  72. Start enjoying your job again.
  73. Realise that there are other options apart from just Canon cameras.
  74. Spend more money on gear.
  75. Raise your price again.
  76. Get a new studio.
  77. Buy a house and move out of the city as you realise you’re a country boy at heart.
  78. Never actually go to the new studio and instead just work from home.
  79. Wait for your lease to run out.
  80. Realise that you now don’t have a place to meet your clients.
  81. Hire another studio 2km down the road from the previous studio.
  82. Start shooting country weddings again. (where you first started)
  83. Write a blog post about how to become a professional wedding photographer.

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