I started my Wedding Photography business in July of 2014 and before that I mostly shot family sessions for some friends. I even shot a few strangers to build my portfolio. I would get really excited when someone would offer me 50 bucks or so. To me, it was a quick $50, it was easy to do and I didn’t rely on it for an income. After my portfolio was built and I felt my skills were decent enough to start charging folks, I did. Or tried to anyway. I can’t remember exactly what the price for an hour of my time was but I know that it was around $150. After a long rough year of Facebook Contests and Giveaways, I didn’t get a single paying client.
It wasn’t until I was searching for a photographer that it occured to me that weddings were photographed. I was following a few family photographers who were local to me and reached out to one of them to photograph my wedding. After that, I started doing more researched and found Facebook groups filled with photographers with tons of knowledge. Then I realized the they were photographers who SPECIALIZED in wedding photography. And that’s when I decided, this is what I want to do.
Now that you have a little back to story to my business, let’s get into the three things I wish I had known starting out as a “professional” photographer.
1. The magic of full frame. I studied film photography in high school over a decade ago. I was familiar with SLRs and how they worked. But back in that day, my digital camera was a Sony Mavica. It had a whomping 2 megapixels and it saved images to a 3.5 disk. It was a beast and I loved it! When I decided to buy my first DSLR, I didn’t do any research at all and just bought one that was on a commercial featuring Ashton Kuther. It was a D3200 with a kit lens and I thought it was great. After about a year, I decided to go for an upgrade – still not doing much research (silly, right?) I upgraded myself to the D7100. She was a great little baby and I cherished her. But had I done some research and been patient, for the price of those two cameras, I could’ve purchased a used full frame in pretty good condition. I actually could’ve purchased a used full frame for the price that I paid for the D7100 brand new. My other cameras were great and they served me well, but had I been smarter, I would’ve went with a full frame from the begining because their capabilities are outstanding. Now I shoot with two D750s and they are some serious powerhouses.
2. Class 10 SD Cards. You already know, I clearly didn’t do much research starting out. I thought a camera was a camera and so you can assume I thought an SD card was an SD card. I’m an over shooter (I’m working on that), and before I would just take picture after picture and then after a few I would have to wait before being able to take another. One day I borrowed an SD card from someone and was shooting and guess what?! No wait! No buffering, I learned what it’s called now! I looked at the difference.. and apparently there’s different classes of cards! Who knew?! Obviously, not me.
3. Back Button Focus (BBF) & Choosing your focal point. I want to say that I was about 2 years into my hobby before I discovered back button focusing. It was around early 2014 that I discovered tons of Facebook groups for photographers. I started following the feed of these groups and learned a lot by just seeing other photographer’s questions and snooping on the responses. Back button focusing came up a lot. What it was, how to do it and how awesome it was. So I hopped and YouTube fiddled with my settings and yup, instantly in love. It was when I switch to BBF that I realized that my focus point in my camera stopped changing and that had to move it in order have what I wanted in focus. I had no stinking clue that I could do this. The camera always chose my focus point for me and I would be so distraught when I would go through photos and realize that something other than what I wanted was in focus. But now, I was suddenly BBFing like a champ and telling my camera what I wanted to be in focus! What?!
4. Wedding Photography is a thing. I didn’t grow up looking at old wedding photos of my parents or grandparents. There’s some old photos of my grandparents when they we’re younger but none of them were wedding photos. And in my circle of friends, I was the second to get married. One of my besties, Olivia of Olive Events & Florals, got married right before I headed off to Afghanistan for seven months and I never saw her wedding photos. I knew there was a photographer there, but I wasn’t actively interested in photography at the time. Of course, I brought a camera to the wedding to take photos but the fact that there was a professional photographer there to document the wedding didn’t really register with me. When I was getting married, (let’s remember, I was never engaged) I of course started looking for a photographer to document my day. I had no idea what this cost and looking back, I must’ve been a horrible client. I emailed a photographer saying that I’d like to spend about $500 dollars. Whoops. I ended up with 3 hours of coverage for around $800. And since I had such a small brunch wedding with not a lot of details, aside from our wedding rings, the photography was still the most expensive thing about my wedding and I’m glad that I have some really nice photos even though I had a small budget. But had I known sooner that wedding photography was a big thing, I wouldn’t have spent two years TRYING be a family photographer. I didn’t like it. I left every session stressed that I didn’t have one good picture of the entire family. Not to mention, that in two years, no one hired me. As soon as I decided that I wanted to weddings and only weddings, I dove right in. I started LEARNING and pursuing photo education. As you can tell, from the previous four things, I wasn’t that excited that I didn’t really bother to learn much. But over the last year, I have grown so much in both my artistry and my knowledge base. I’m so excited about my business growing and I cannot wait to capture all the love in my weddings this year. It truly makes me happy to deliver couples their memories of their big day.
Those are just a few things, I wish I had known when I started this journey. I’d love to hear about things you wish you had known!