Getting started in Wedding Photography

NicoleMaui Photography

Getting Started in Wedding Photography Many people may not consider wedding photography as one of many categories to explore when getting into the field of photography. Shooting weddings should not be considered to be anything less than a serious form. In fact it is one of the most demanding disciplines of professional photography. If you are an aspiring wedding photographer, then there are certain areas you will have to develop to be successful. One of the key areas is strategy. Before you can think about mastering the camera, the lighting and the background, you need to work on a strategy. The word, strategy, is a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. As a wedding photographer you will have to not only look at the technical side but, also take a look into the business side. In this article I will focus on getting you pointed into the right direction. Then in future articles, I will discuss the business side. The first place to start is working on your technical skills. When I first began photography, I started with a basic manual 35mm camera, a Pentax K2000 and a few fixed lenses, a 28mm, 50mm and 135mm. I took pictures everyday and practically ran my parents bank account dry developing all the film. In this digital age, you can see the results right after taking a photo and you can easily delete bad results. What your going to need as far as basic equipment is a decent Digital 35mm SLR and a few good lenses. I would recommend a 28-105mm, but 70-200 mm might be a good range to start with. You will also need a good computer and editing software. Most photographers use Mac based computers. However, a good PC will work just fine. As far as computer software, if you are just starting off and on a limited budget, I might suggest beginning with Adobe Lightroom as an editing software. It’s fairly affordable and easy to learn. Presently, I begin the editing process in Lightroom and then finalize in Adobe Photoshop. The photography profession is not a cheap investment. The tools of the trade are very expensive, so my advice is to purchase a decent camera body and invest in great lenses. I recall one of my first internships was with an Orange County Newspaper and I had the privilege of working with the paper’s lead photographer at the time. One of the things he taught me is that it’s not the camera but, it’s the lens you need to invest in. You can have an inexpensive camera body to begin with and then later upgrade. Now days, you can purchase a decent 35mm Digital Slr for about $600. and then your lens are going to be about double that depending on the size lens you purchase. I buy most of my equipment on–line through B&H Photo located in New York and various other pieces from my local camera shop on Maui. To get started I would recommend you start shooting to work on your technical side. I would begin shooting friends, family, candids of people on the street and use natural lighting. The time to shoot is early morning hours just after sun rise and then just before sunsets. A photo editor from the Orange County Register once told me when I was beginning to shoot everyday for at least two hours. His advice to me was to shoot ten rolls of film a week. So, my advice to you is to fill a 4 gig card a week and spend at least six hours a week practicing your editing techniques. Once you begin to get a collection of good images, the next step is to work on your portfolio. Building your photography portfolio. As a photographer there is no greater joy than being recognized for what you love doing. One way to ensure you get that recognition is to create a photography portfolio, which is second to none. Step 1) Choosing your theme You may already have the pictures to create a themed portfolio or you may be planning on capturing them over a period of time. Either way, your portfolio, like a well written book, should have some unifying themes. This theme can be conceptual or it can be technical. For example, your theme could be about courage, love, urban life, fear or something else you create. Alternatively you can create a theme based on photographic technicalities. For example, you could create a portfolio showcasing all of your best wide angle work or one which displays your best black and white work. The themes for creating a portfolio are only limited by your own imagination. So take your time and create a themed portfolio which means something to you. Step 2) Choosing the photos Choosing the right photographs to put in your portfolio will be a time consuming process. By the nature of the portfolio itself, only your best pieces should be placed within the portfolio. If you don’t’ have too many top picks spend some more time photographing until you get those desired results. Your portfolio is something you should be proud of and not something thrown together out of impatience and haste. Your portfolio should be manageable for the viewer to get through. Too often photographers fill pages and pages with photographs that the viewer will skim through to get to the end. The key is not to take it personally when someone reviews it. Everyone’s eye is different and the key to a good portfolio is choosing your best work, which includes classic as well as avant-garde work. The one thing I recall when working with the photo editors in my past is they would say the picture must tell the story without words. When your images can say something or tell a story, without your having to share a story about it, you’ve done something right. Narrow your portfolio down to 20-50 photographs. There is no hard set number you need to follow, but this seems to be the range that most audiences would prefer. Step 3) Showing your work Now that you have put together your portfolio, it’s time to show it off. Begin by sharing it with your friends and family. Next, display your work on-line, there is many on-line photo sharing sites, where other photographers can share their comments with you about your work. Take your time putting it together, but make sure you complete your project. Too many photographers shoot all day long and fail to present their work properly. If you have one of your friends that is getting married, ask if they mind if you take some photos for them. Once your feeling comfortable with your work, the next step is to get out there and work under a professional photographer. If you are going to school, ask your school counselor about internship programs. If they don’t have any presently maybe it’s time they did. Most schools are happy to give you school credit for internships and will even let you out of school early to do it. Contact local photographers in your area and ask them if they are open to internships. You’ll be surprised at what can happen and what you will learn just by asking. I will discuss internships more in a later article. However; I have to tell you persistence also goes along long way. If I had not bugged a photo editor at a major Orange County Newspaper when I was in college, I never would have gotten to work as an intern there. Because of my persistence, I was chosen first over 2,300 other people wanting an internship, due to my continuous calls and showing up with rolls of film to be critiqued.