I'm Joelle, an international Lifestyle and Wedding Photographer based in St. Joseph, MI. I'm also an educator and Photo Editor for photographers interested in growing their business and living life more.
Photo by: Nicole Balsamo Photography
So you’ve decided that you’re interested in pursuing wedding photography, but you have no experience and you’re not sure where the right place is to begin. How do you get your foot in the door? What’s the key to attracting brides when you’ve never photographed a wedding before?
Well first of all, welcome to the wedding industry! I’m so excited that you want to join this fun tribe, and I can’t wait to see what you create. Secondly, I’m going to walk you through some key ways to begin getting your name out there to brides, and to nurture the talent you already possess.
If you’ve never photographed a wedding before, you can improvise by photographing a styled shoot. Ask a married couple who still has their wedding day clothes to model for you. Or, go all out and connect with vendors in your area to create a one-of-a-kind styled shoot! You can reach out to bridal gown shops, florists, calligraphers, and hair + makeup artists to name a few. Usually the end goal with these kinds of styled shoots is to get published online or in print, but it can also be to showcase each of your skills to the brides in your city.
I reached out to so many photographers about second shooting! I remember googling and googling for professional wedding photographers in my town and the closest cities to me. A couple of them responded back and I was able to second shoot for one of them. Another invited me to meet her for coffee and shared her expertise with me in person. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Not everyone will respond, but there will be some who do!
There is so much power in community. I’m a part of a few amazing photography/entrepreneurial communities on Facebook and would definitely suggest you check them out! Sometimes you can find referrals for weddings or elopements in your area. It’s also a great place to ask questions you have, and you’ll get answers.
Honeybook Community is also a great source for finding second shooting opportunities and wedding referrals in your local area.
When I made the decision to pursue wedding photography, I booked a mentoring session with another photographer who was more experienced than me. She gave me so many good pointers, and it was incredibly helpful for me. Later that year, I also attended a workshop about wedding photography which was another game-changer! I was able to learn even more about being a wedding photographer, I gained so much new work for my portfolio, and I left with so much passion and reaffirmation that this was what I wanted to do.
If these are options you’re interested in, I offer both! You can find out more about my mentoring sessions here, and my upcoming workshop from May 6-9 here!
Because you are just getting started, brides probably don’t know about you yet. Don’t be afraid to contact them first about being their wedding photographer! I would message friends on Facebook, and both friends and strangers on Instagram when I was just getting started. Also, don’t be afraid to follow up with them. It’s so easy to forget little things when you’re planning a wedding, so a follow-up can be helpful!
If you want to book more weddings, then you have to consistently show wedding-related imagery. Whether that’s on Facebook, Instagram, or another social platform. Photos of the bride, the couple, detail photos of the dress, ring shots…the possibilities are endless. Get creative in your styled shoots, and start posting!
I’m all for highlighting your personality in consultations and on your social media pages, but I also believe that professionalism plays an important role in booking a wedding. Don’t get so caught up in the excitement of it all that you forget about contracts, payments, and model releases. Agree is a great platform to use for contracts; it’s user-friendly, and already has the standard clauses written for you!
Becoming a wedding photographer takes a lot of faith + hard work, but if you’re serious about it then you are in for such a treat! If you implement these strategies, you will begin to see results. But, it does take time. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t begin to book weddings after only a few months. It took me about a year to build up a good portfolio that began to attract brides I truly enjoy working with! If you’re feeling stuck at all along the way, it’s helpful to have a mentor to bounce ideas off of and ask questions (hi, hey, hello – that could be me)!
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