DPChallenge: A Digital Photography Contest You are not logged in. (log in or register
 

DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Wedding Photography business update...
Pages:  
Showing posts 1 - 25 of 27, (reverse)
AuthorThread
05/27/2012 06:55:32 AM · #1
Hi guys. Some of you might remember that at the beginning of the year i posted about my intention of trying to make it as a wedding photographer so i thought it was about time for an update.

Basically it's been going really well. Surprisingly so in fact. At the start of the year i made my 5 year business plan and i was quite realistic i thought. My idea was to start slow and hopefully build proportionately year on year so i hoped for 5 weddings in the first year moving up to 10 in the second and so on with the goal of reaching around 30 or so by year 5. Happily it seems i was a bit too conservative with my predictions and by the end of April i had already 10 bookings for this year and 5 for 2013. This was great but it also kind of put a spanner in my plans as to cover them all i needed to give up my part time job in a print shop. I basically didn't have enough holiday to do it so i handed in my notice early May and went full time. This wasn't really as drastic and risky as it sounds as the part time job was really there to suppliment other bits of photography jobs i do throughout the year and i'd only been there 6 months anyway so if the wedding photography suddenly fails then i'm not really in a worse off position.

So, it's going really well and i'm loving doing it. I've had some nice sample albums produced and if i can i meet couples beforehand for a consultation that's great. These have been going really well- out of five consultations i've done four have gone on to book me either that same day or later that week. I'm hoping on the fifth but they haven't actually finalised the date next year yet. The consultations are great for discussing my style and what they will get. Happily i'm getting lots of comments on my 'quirky' and 'natural' style which people seem to like so it's something i'm going for as my style develops.

I've made a few mistakes of course. One was with pricing. During February and March i had an offer on of 25% off weddings if booked before the end of March and this went well but i worked out that the 25% off on a 'short-day' coverage didn't leave much profit if the wedding was some distance away considering the cost of fuel etc. I'll do a similar offer next year i think but keep it to 'full-day' coverage only.

I'm learning loads on the last few i've done. Particularly under tricky conditions - heavy rain during a wedding in a castle but luckily it eased off for some outdoor shots but the indoor images were tricky. Also very bright mid-day sunshine was a challenge for some group shots with no shade.

You can see some recent images on my blog here... Any comments and critiques very much welcome of course. I'm planning on updating the website this week as well.

Some thoughts on equipment. I started the year with my Nikon D300 and planned to use that as my main camera for the first year. I bought an old Nikon D2H for a back up (lovely camera). When the bookings started coming in though i decided to upgrade early and got a D700. The lovely Nikon 85mm f1.4 is fantastic for portraits and i'm more than happy with that and as i'm far happier using primes i figured that was the way to go. Currently i have the 20mm f2.8, 50mm 1.4 (manual focus), 85mm 1.4, 135mm 2.8 (manual focus) and the 55mm 3.5 macro (manual focus). My thoughts were that that gave me a good range on both cameras and i'm quite happy with manual focus and think i'm pretty quick at it. I use both camera at the same time and find thats the way i'm happiest to shoot. The last couple of weddings have made me re-think this a bit though as i think a wide zoom would be far better. I like the landscape-photojournalist range of the 16-35mm f4 and think that would suit me. That on the D700 and maybe a 50mm on the D300 and swapping the zoom for the 85mm for portraits would work well. Many people say that the 16-35mm f4 would be useless for weddings due to its f4 maximum aperture but my thoughts are that if i am going to need a fast lens in dim light then f2.8 is often not going to cut it anyway so i'd go for the 50mm 1.4 or get the new 28mm 1.8. I also see the VR being very useful and interesting for low light interiors. I'm even getting excited about using the VR with people in a kind of sharp environment/blurry people kind of way. As you can see from my DPC images i like blur and i'm planning on developing a lot of that style with wedding photography if i can (it works in my head). I think one of the ways to be successful as a wedding photographer is to have a strong personal style and i hope to develop that more.

Anyway, long post but i hope it'll be of interest to some of you.

Message edited by author 2012-05-29 15:05:48.
05/27/2012 07:04:03 AM · #2
Originally posted by rooum:

I think one of the ways to be successful as a wedding photographer is to have a strong personal style and i hope to develop that more.

Great post Clive, thanks for sharing. I would think this is one of the key elements in developing a successful business. Oh, and of course, making sure you get paid :)

Message edited by author 2012-05-27 07:04:52.
05/27/2012 07:14:17 AM · #3
Originally posted by salmiakki:

Oh, and of course, making sure you get paid :)


Yes, and that indeed! The way i'm planning to manage income and the whole seasonal aspect of wedding photography is to manage the deposits. Currently i ask for 50% deposit on booking and the remaining 50% two weeks before the wedding date. People seem fine with that so far. Hopefully by doing it that way i can organise the income better over the year. Assuming, of course, that i get bookings during Nov-March. Early new year seems to be a prime time for wedding bookings though so hopefully that'll go well.
05/27/2012 07:16:52 AM · #4
Brilliant stuff Clive, imaginative and professional. Certainly have some lovely locations to shoot. Do you take as many shots as possible or do you have time to be selective? Certainly have that special dof and focusing nailed, very envious, you're a natural with sensitivity.
05/27/2012 08:01:17 AM · #5
excellent, clive!

Originally posted by rooum:

The way i'm planning to manage income and the whole seasonal aspect of wedding photography is to manage the deposits.

one thing that my more successful wedding photographer friends have done to deal with the seasonality of weddings is make the most of their newly forged relationships with their happy clients. they make sure their clients know they do maternity shoots, new-baby portraits, family portraits, etc. the hard part is the first sale; if you've delivered the goods on that first job, it only makes sense to make them clients for life. and if they like you enough and you stick with them, you might get to shoot their second and third weddings...

cheers to your continued success!!
05/27/2012 09:40:37 AM · #6
So good to hear such a great success story! Well done indeed!
05/27/2012 12:22:08 PM · #7
Very informative, thanks!

One thing I noticed, in the photos is that a few people had their legs chopped off, is that intentional to have a landscape format?
05/27/2012 02:00:23 PM · #8
Very interesting Clive, well done for making a success of it all and thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Are you a member of any of the wedding photographers organisations, or do you plan on becoming a member? I'd be interested whether you, or anyone else here, considers it worthwhile.
05/29/2012 07:48:53 AM · #9
Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement people. Very much appreciated!

Originally posted by daisydavid:

Certainly have some lovely locations to shoot. Do you take as many shots as possible or do you have time to be selective?


I do take a lot of photograph- around 1000-1400 or so, both cameras combined, per wedding so far. I then edit these down to around 200 - 400 or so to give to the couple. I don't want to overload them with a huge amount of images but i do give them the choice of similar portrait shots in B/W or colour. It can be tricky nailing the focus on the very shallow DOF images though so i do tend to take a lot during the couple portraits. I am working on being more selective with the general documentary style images throughout the day though. Really slow it down and plan each shot as opposed to shooting everything. My inspiration for the whole documentary/photojournalist approach is the fantastic Jeff Ascough. In interviews i've read with him he talks about his approach and it's very inspiring how he'll study the light and composition first and trust that decisive moment to happen.

Originally posted by Skip:


one thing that my more successful wedding photographer friends have done to deal with the seasonality of weddings is make the most of their newly forged relationships with their happy clients. they make sure their clients know they do maternity shoots, new-baby portraits, family portraits, etc. the hard part is the first sale; if you've delivered the goods on that first job, it only makes sense to make them clients for life. and if they like you enough and you stick with them, you might get to shoot their second and third weddings...


Yes, that's definitely something i'm going to work towards. I've got my Facebook page set up and the blog and hopefully some couples will stick around and recommend me to others. I've got family and other portraits advertised on my website but no takers yet but if i can develop existing client relationships as you suggest then all the better. Word of mouth being the best marketing tool around and becoming known as a photographer in the local community is the goal. We're actually planning on moving next year though- we're in south wales now and plan to moved up to more rural mid-wales. This will be a good thing i think as it'll be a smaller more village type communities to get involved with. It'll also give me a good geographical base to cover the rest of Wales and over into England.

Originally posted by heatherd:


One thing I noticed, in the photos is that a few people had their legs chopped off, is that intentional to have a landscape format?


Oh, i don't know about that. Perhaps i have an odd compositional eye. I try to get a mix of full body. half body and close up portraits but i do think that i'm more naturally inclined to get in closer and perhaps cut too many toes off. I'll have to keep an eye on that. One thing i have started doing a lot more over the last 6 months or so is keeping to the 6x4 aspect ratio. I used to crop my images into all sorts of ratios but i find i'm keeping it a lot more simple these days. It's not really a conscious, thought out thing but i tend to crop far more with the camera. I also still like a square croup though and i'd quite like to do a whole wedding with a square crop some time.

Originally posted by james_so:

Are you a member of any of the wedding photographers organisations, or do you plan on becoming a member? I'd be interested whether you, or anyone else here, considers it worthwhile.


No, i'm not a member yet. I have looked into it and am thinking about it but i've decided i'll wait until next year. Looking at the websites of all the wedding photographers that i like and seem successful it certainly doesn't seem like a prerequisite anymore. Some do, some don't. If it can be good for marketing then that can only be a good thing i guess. One think i do want to do though is get some features on a lot of these wedding blogs, particularly the ones that are a bit alternative. They look like a good way forward and to get the business out there. I spent quite a bit on some of the wedding directory sites but i'm not sure how well they are working out. Most of my clients have either found me through web searches by area or through a wedding site which you can send quotes through which i find really good.

Message edited by author 2012-05-29 15:08:17.
05/29/2012 11:07:20 AM · #10
Thanks Clive, very reassuring and informative. Jeff Ascough - absolutely brilliant stuff. They'll be saying similar about your blog soon enough.
05/29/2012 11:21:16 AM · #11
Clive, I am very impressed with your wedding images -- especially so given how long you have been at it. You are an inspiration yourself.

Thanks for the Jeff Ascough link. Wow. I think my motivation to take pictures is the hope that I will occasionally capture a moment as well as he does. Amazing stuff.
05/29/2012 12:34:40 PM · #12
this is good stuff as i would love go semi pro. i enjoy doing portraiture and would love to get into going doing informal engagement photos or anniversary shots.

no kids, i dont have he patience... and a wedding seems to be way too overwhelming, i need to build up my confidence.

my main question is, how did you advertise yourself at first? i thought about doing a few freebees, advertising such on Craigslist and doing some stuff for my family just you get a small portfolio built.
05/31/2012 05:33:00 PM · #13
Originally posted by mike_311:



my main question is, how did you advertise yourself at first? i thought about doing a few freebees, advertising such on Craigslist and doing some stuff for my family just you get a small portfolio built.


I started off doing some weddings for friends. I think i did about 3 or 4 in the last two years or so. Then i was asked by friends of friends if i would cover their wedding and i was quite hesitant, but they seemed keen so i did them for a small amount. That's when i kind of realised that i really enjoyed doing them and it could be an option to aim towards a career as a wedding photographer. I didn't go into it lightly though, and one of the things i did was do a short course on the business of wedding photography. I am totally rubbish at business, being the more arty, bohemian, layabout that i usually am.

This really was hugely valuable to me as it gave me the confidence i needed to push on with it. That course was late last year and i planned a lot to kind of launch it in the new year. Those weddings that i had previously done though had given me a portfolio i was happy with. The wedding i did in early January really sealed it and a lot of the images i took from that i was so pleased with that i went on and designed my whole 'brand' around. Really, much of the design and font and colour scheme that i use is from one single image i took from that wedding and i use it as the first photo you see on my website here. My branding and marketing mostly uses that image and i do think it stands out when lined up with others on wedding directories and such.

One of the things i learnt from the wedding business course when it comes to advertising and charging is 'Start as you mean to go on'. There is no point in starting in a low price range with the aim to move up a notch as you progress. Start with a price that you can live with as a full time photographer. I don't want to compete with the Craigslist/Gumtree cheaper offers. I don't think there is anything wrong with them but if you aim to be full time then start with full time prices from the start. Also, and this ties in with the idea of the best marketing being word of mouth and being known in your community, there is no reason to get known as the 'cheap'' photographer unless you mean to be one.

As to advertising, my first initial prongs of attack were...

1. I spent a bit of money buying advertising space of wedding directories. Places like here... and here..., Not sure if they've been worth it yet. I'll see at the end of the year but i figure if i get one booking through them them then i have made that advertising cost back a few times over. I also joined up to another site which has been fantastic and i've had a handful of bookings from. This is a different system where couples post their wedding date, their budget and what they are after and you buy credits to be able to quote to them. Bear in mind that this is all in the UK so i'm not sure if you have anything similar in the States.

2. As i said in a post above, i worked the previous 6 months in a photo print shop and whilst i was there i took advantage on good discounts ted to make a large number of cards made up. These were 6x4 and had a variety of my wedding photos on them as well as contact details. Much better than business cards and the variety of images was a good thing. I've been going round local bridal wear shops and talking to the owners and leaving cards with them. All have been happy to take them and most have been very complimentary about the images. I've not yet had any booking through this but it is something i'm very much going to carry on with, moving further afield into other towns and villages and also going to other wedding related businesses such as florists and wedding cars etc

3. Website really. I need to get on and push the social networking thing and start Twitter etc but i think this is where 50% of my bookings have been from. People doing a search for local photographers and finding me. SEO and all that is something to keep up and the ongoing blog is important i think.

Anyway, hope that helps Mike.

Message edited by author 2012-05-31 17:37:48.
05/31/2012 05:35:15 PM · #14
I really like your portfolio. I like that none of it seems cliche or boring. It must be very taxing to keep coming up with unique ideas for weddings. Good job and continued success.
05/31/2012 05:50:07 PM · #15
Thanks Kris. I'm really glad that it comes across as non-boring. It is a real challenge but i'm fired up! To be honest, it's the most terrifying thing i've ever done and with each wedding i've done i've started as a bundle of nerves. Then i seem to relax into it and it goes well. So far. I do think there is only so much you can do with wedding photography to a certain extent but i made sure that i was at the photographic ability so i could be sure of myself to get the shots people expected first. Then i can try and stretch what i'd like to do with it. Like i said up-thread, i've got a lot of ideas of where i'd like to take it and it all looks good in my head! We'll see.
05/31/2012 06:24:15 PM · #16
BTW Clive, I just got the latest issue of American Photo magazine they did an article about their list of the Ten Best Wedding Photographers. Here's the link to an online version //www.americanphotomag.com/article/2012/05/top-10-wedding-photographers-2012

You might find some useful ideas, tips, or at least a little inspiration.

Message edited by author 2012-05-31 18:25:05.
05/31/2012 08:11:17 PM · #17
Cheers Kris. I'll have a good look at that. Something to aspire to!
05/31/2012 08:20:19 PM · #18
Originally posted by chazoe:

BTW Clive, I just got the latest issue of American Photo magazine they did an article about their list of the Ten Best Wedding Photographers. Here's the link to an online version //www.americanphotomag.com/article/2012/05/top-10-wedding-photographers-2012

You might find some useful ideas, tips, or at least a little inspiration.


It's very 'environmental' isn't it. Which is great. Before i clicked on the link i was expecting to find big, strobist, glamorous production. Instead it is quite sweet and low key. Making use of interesting things around you. I like that.
05/31/2012 08:24:36 PM · #19
Thanks Clive that's great info. I actually now have three photo sessions booked with friends and family. Im doing them for free and using the images in my portfolio and to practice to make sure I know what I am doing. I figure I can make the mistakes now since no one is paying me. I gave been showing off my family photos for a while now and one couple approached me to do them, This kind if kicked me into gear. I have a fulltime job i love, this is just a side gig, but i enjoy taking these kinds if photos so if i can get paid and make a couple happy its worth the effort. My wife would also love if all this cash i pour into my gear to start paying for itself.
05/31/2012 08:32:29 PM · #20
Awesome pictures, Clive! I greatly enjoyed perusing your website!
05/31/2012 11:43:14 PM · #21
Originally posted by rooum:

Originally posted by chazoe:

BTW Clive, I just got the latest issue of American Photo magazine they did an article about their list of the Ten Best Wedding Photographers. Here's the link to an online version //www.americanphotomag.com/article/2012/05/top-10-wedding-photographers-2012

You might find some useful ideas, tips, or at least a little inspiration.


It's very 'environmental' isn't it. Which is great. Before i clicked on the link i was expecting to find big, strobist, glamorous production. Instead it is quite sweet and low key. Making use of interesting things around you. I like that.


I really like Max Wanger and Todd Laffler. They're all good but those two were the ones whose styles I really liked.
06/01/2012 06:55:32 AM · #22
One other thing with regards to advertising, Mike. I also added my business to Google and they sent me a free voucher for £50 on Adwords. This lasted a couple of months and seemed to go ok-people seemed to be going to my ad anyway. I'd been planning on buying some more Adwords but then, just this morning, they sent me another free £50 voucher so that's good.
06/01/2012 06:58:35 AM · #23
Originally posted by chazoe:

Originally posted by rooum:

Originally posted by chazoe:

BTW Clive, I just got the latest issue of American Photo magazine they did an article about their list of the Ten Best Wedding Photographers. Here's the link to an online version //www.americanphotomag.com/article/2012/05/top-10-wedding-photographers-2012

You might find some useful ideas, tips, or at least a little inspiration.


It's very 'environmental' isn't it. Which is great. Before i clicked on the link i was expecting to find big, strobist, glamorous production. Instead it is quite sweet and low key. Making use of interesting things around you. I like that.


I really like Max Wanger and Todd Laffler. They're all good but those two were the ones whose styles I really liked.


Yes, Max Wagner is definitely my favourite there. Wonderful tilt/shift kind of style. I like that very much. Sergio Lopez i also like a lot.

Message edited by author 2012-06-01 07:00:40.
06/01/2012 10:14:58 AM · #24
Originally posted by rooum:

Originally posted by chazoe:

Originally posted by rooum:

Originally posted by chazoe:

BTW Clive, I just got the latest issue of American Photo magazine they did an article about their list of the Ten Best Wedding Photographers. Here's the link to an online version //www.americanphotomag.com/article/2012/05/top-10-wedding-photographers-2012

You might find some useful ideas, tips, or at least a little inspiration.


It's very 'environmental' isn't it. Which is great. Before i clicked on the link i was expecting to find big, strobist, glamorous production. Instead it is quite sweet and low key. Making use of interesting things around you. I like that.


I really like Max Wanger and Todd Laffler. They're all good but those two were the ones whose styles I really liked.


Yes, Max Wagner is definitely my favourite there. Wonderful tilt/shift kind of style. I like that very much. Sergio Lopez i also like a lot.


It's funny you say that because the first time I looked at your blog was right after I had read that article and I was thinking "this reminds me of that Max guy's work from the article I just read". LOL

BTW looking at your blog the two stand out weddings for me anyway were Dave & Chenelle as well as Magnus and Bella. The portfolio from Dave and Chanelle's wedding is just brilliant. Some very well done traditional stuff and some stuff that I'm sure none of their friends have, which is key in wedding photography. You have to be good enough to give them the traditional stuff that almost everybody has from their wedding but to really stand out you need to be able to give them a handful of shots that they look at and say "Wow! None of our friends have a wedding shot like that" That is where I think you'll make your mark Clive.

The Magnus and Bella really stood out to me. There are some absolutely beautiful images in that one and the best ones were done in very tricky lighting situations. That particular set of images is one that I would definitely show off to perspective clients. Well done.
06/12/2012 01:16:24 AM · #25
Hey, all the best Clive, big things weddings, did one for my brother a couple of months ago, of course I didn't charge him, but I had a lot of fun.

I like your style very relaxed and warm.

I'm sure you will do well.

Seems a few people want to now pay me now, so I might have to start up a business soon myself.

Message edited by author 2012-06-12 01:18:06.
Pages:  
Current Server Time: 02/24/2020 09:20:36 PM

Please log in or register to post to the forums.


Home - Challenges - Community - League - Photos - Cameras - Lenses - Learn - Prints! - Help - Terms of Use - Privacy - Top ^
DPChallenge, and website content and design, Copyright © 2001-2020 Challenging Technologies, LLC.
All digital photo copyrights belong to the photographers and may not be used without permission.
Proudly hosted by Sargasso Networks. Current Server Time: 02/24/2020 09:20:36 PM EST.