Can I make a successful living as a wedding photographer?

Can I Make a Successful Living as a Wedding Photographer?

Feeling down because your business is a little low?  Maybe you have some wedding inquiries, but you don’t have as many bookings as you need. You start to feel like your prices are too high, so you lower them a little, you question yourself and your work, you wonder why you started this in the first place, you question if you are doing all that you can, posting the right photographs/comments to social media.   You wonder if your brand is not lovely enough and then, the earth shattering question arises.  “Should I just call it quits?”

You are not alone, because it has happened to all of us! 

We live in a time when photographs are worth less due to mass media and oversaturation.  Your competitors are popping up each year, easily starting up with a camera (maybe even without knowing how to shoot well) merely putting up a website and a Facebook page.  It’s that easy.  That said, these same new owners soon discover that they are in for a tough time, just as you are and they may fall to the wayside eventually.  I read a stat that states the average photographer stays in business for 3 years.  I’m now into year 8 of wedding photography (18 years total in photography) and still going…and believe me, I have had tough times!  So tough, I was working my business and dipping into my grocery money and feeling terrible about it.  One day, many years back when I felt my business was ultra-low, I decided to google “photographers” in my city of 1.5 million and discovered a map listing of over 10,000 photographers.  10,000!!  How do you compete with that, I told myself.  I did a little more research and yes, I decided to keep going, despite the tough times discovering there was more I could be doing.

There are some ways you can build up your business such as your website, marketing strategies, legal and contracts, pricing, accounting but I want to list a few other ways to help you keep your chin up through the hard times that helped me!

Master Wedding Photography (TM)

  1. Keep working on your photographs

This might seem obvious, but work on your photography.   Work on it every day.  From shooting details around your home and your studio, to outings and wanderings, to taking workshops with photographers you admire and shoot, shoot, shoot, every day.  Never leave your house without your camera, you never know what you will see.  Make your images second-to-none; literally.  Develop your own style, not just the soft, lovely high-key typical wedding imagery you see every day.  Watch other artists, not just other photographers and become ultra-unique in your images.  Create a bridal production by collaborating with wedding gown designers, local shops, vendors and create a stylized wedding shoot adding to your portfolio.

At the very least, (and I hope this is not too candid) should your business not make it, you will know you did your best as an artist, as a photographer.  When you are shooting it gives you a little joy – you know you will have that and nobody can take that away from you.

2. Talk to people

Uug.  As an artist, this may not be ideal, but if the phone isn’t ringing then get on the phone and make some calls! Talk to wedding planners, dj’s, wedding venues and so on, give out your card and don’t just uses social media and the internet as your go-to word-of-mouth.  Get off the internet and get on the phone!

3. Give Your Time

Well, things are slow, so why not give to others?  Grow your network and get others talking by offering local affluent vendors, wedding planners and caterer’s headshots, while photographing them and their product.  Create a blog post about the work you did for them and make the photographs magazine-worthy!  This will not only show your diversity but it will get folks talking about you!

My goal with these tips are just to get you through the hard times.  You can make a success as a wedding photographer but it takes a great amount of effort.  It may be easy to start up but after that it will get difficult, especially in a low economy.  Remember, what goes down has to come back up.  Until then, do what you can, giving it your all, shoot what you love and a long road in the same direction will lead to your goals.

Have an experience or comment about your own business?  Let us know!