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How To Become a Successful Wedding Photographer

 

How To Become a Successful Wedding Photographer

 

Now that you’ve gotten your long-awaited camera, you feel confident enough to shoot every and anything and we’re almost as excited as you are. But hold on a minute; do you realize that being a photographer is quite different from being a wedding photographer…in Dublin? The skills, equipment, knowledge, and everything in-between are not accessories that come with your new camera. They are MASTERED.

Unless you’ve been wedded before, you’d know better than to mess up a once in a lifetime opportunity for two people who trusted (because they probably don’t anymore) you. Oh, and in case you haven’t realized, becoming a wedding photographer in Dublin requires a whole level of trust.

No one would pay just any photographer to handle some of the most amazing parts of their forever. So, if you believe that this is the path you want to tread, buckle up.  Because it’s going to be one ride that would take you places you never knew existed.

 

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WHY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY?

You probably expect us to delve straight into “10 ways to become a wedding photographer” without making you have a rethink about your decision but sadly (which is rather fortunate), we’re doing the latter.

Why do you want to go into wedding photography? Have you tried out other types of photography already but just feel like weddings are where your skill is needed? Or are you just trying to get your hands on every type of photography that there is?

These questions are necessary because wedding photography is not something you just stroll into and stroll out of as you please. It’s not like landscape photography or real-estate photography. Look at it like you would your life. It’s a moment that passes with time so any shot you miss is forever missed. You can’t rewind that moment, ever. This is why the couple NEEDS you. You are the superhero that can freeze those moments for them and preserve it in digital form for decades.

The smiles, tears, emotions, movements, dances, vows, connections and so much more are elements that cannot be retaken. If you have experience shooting models, that’s a good start. Shooting weddings are far different from all of those. You can pose models whichever way you want and take as many shots as you need to if you don’t like the first ones but you can’t do that with real-life couples.

Yes, you can pose them pre or post-nuptials bit you can’t do that when the ceremony is ongoing. Even if your pre and post-nuptial photos look good but the ceremony shots don’t, then all the work you’ve done is only as good as adding “no offense” at the beginning of an offensive statement.

So, why wedding photography?

Do you have the passion for it or are you just looking for a quick source of income? .  (because, to be honest, wedding photographers in Dublin make quite a lot especially the pros)? You have to sincerely answer all of the questions asked in this session and most importantly, ask yourself “why should anyone hire me to be their wedding photographer?”.  You know, these days, almost everyone has a smartphone with really good camera quality. So why should they spend money on you when they could simply use their smartphones?

 

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HOW MUCH DOES A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER IN DUBLIN MAKE?

There is no particular answer to this question but local surveys show that a wedding photographer in Dublin could make an average of about €1,000 to €4,000 on one wedding!

If you jump into wedding photography because of these figures, you may be disappointed.  Because, those figures are just an average. As a new photographer, you may earn way below that on each shoot and you may only get 5 to 6 calls in your first year so slow down and let your passion be the drive.

 

HOW MUCH DOES A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER IN DUBLIN MAKE?

 

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BECOME A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER IN DUBLIN?

You need a camera but beyond that, you need skills and virtues that would keep you in on the ride. You could call these the software needed in wedding photography because unlike your camera, lights, lenses and the likes, you can’t touch these. They’re the programs that come with the photographer (which is you) and without them, your photography career would crash before it even begins.

Without further ado, these are the “skills” you need to become a successful wedding photographer in Dublin.

For starters:

  • Train yourself on wedding photography

    For a minute, you would think that you’re good to go with all the skills you already have but that is just a mirage. Without any form of experience in wedding photography, your first wedding shoot would be nothing short of a miracle if the photos don’t come out looking sad.

    • Workshops are organized almost every month in Dublin by more experienced photographers.
    • YouTube tutorials are the handiest tools when it comes to learning wedding photography and they do fairly well with teaching the basics required.
    • One of the easiest ways to get this experience though is by being a SECOND SHOOTER. This is an inexpensive and faster way to learn and improve on your wedding photography skills. There are already many wedding photographers in Dublin. So you could closely follow anyone whose style interests you and ask if you could assist with any of their wedding shoots. They may turn you down (because you’re inexperienced) and that’s okay. Keep on studying their style while asking others if you could be their assistant.

 

Train yourself on wedding photography 

 

  • Patience

    Everyone needs patience but wedding photographers need them the most mixed with some bowls of empathy. Starting out as a wedding photographer is a bumpy ride so you’d need to patient with yourself and the universe. You may not get as many calls as you expect (which is quite expected in a city like Dublin which is littered with numerous photographers) but you have to keep putting out yourself nonetheless.

  • Find your style

    As a photographer, you should have your style. Photographers indeed mimic each other’s style but there is always an x-factor that distinguishes one from the other so, find your x-factor.

 

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  • A creative mind

    This should have probably topped the list but it is just as important as every other point outlined here. You see, wedding photography transcends shooting whatever tickles your fancy. Two photographers could shoot the same wedding with the same type of equipment.  And yet, a clear distinction would exist between both products. Why? Creativity.

 

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Do you notice how vibrant some photos look just because of the extra focus you put on the subject? That’s creativity but only a minute part of it. There are so many things you can explore in wedding photography with lighting, shades, colors, and angles but the magic begins in your mind. If the final result is not as mind-blowing as you imagined it, then you’ve just learned one way to not be creative.

Let your imagination wander but put a leash to it when you’re at the ceremony. You don’t have the luxury of time at someone else’s wedding.

Now that you’ve found your footing, these are extra points to help you get a firm grip on the industry.

  • As a photographer, you cannot afford to not have a portfolio. How would anyone trust you to do a good job if they can’t even see a beautiful photo of a tree you took in summer? This is even more critical for you as a wedding photographer. If you’ve never shot any wedding before, then try shooting models. Shoot anyone who permits you to and work on retouching the photos.

You most likely would not hire a wedding planner who has never planned an event in his/her life for your wedding so why would you expect others to do the same?

 

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  • Empathy

    You have to understand that as much as this is the happiest day of the couple’s lives, it is also one of the most anxiety-filled days of their lives.

Now, as the photographer, it is not your job to counsel them or offer first-aid therapy but often of your unwritten brief is to capture the best moments of the day. So, there you are, all kitted up and ready to shoot the life out of the procession but your client looks confused and unsure about where to stand or how to pose. What do you do?

You may want to start telling him/her to stand this way and throw their hand that way and show some teeth or raise their chin some more?  but this is where you need patience, empathy and a little bit of humor. Remember that besides being clients, these people are human like you who love to be understood. Try to put yourself in their shoes (even if they won’t let you because well, it’s for their wedding) and help them relax. Talk about how happy you are for them and listen to their talk about how much they’ve dreamed of this day.

Getting them to open up would do you so much good because alongside helping them feel better. You’d be able to capture some genuine smiles and occasional tears as they yap away about their big day. This, however, is not a fireproof solution. Some may feel you’re going too forward by talking to them about anything at all so once again, be patient. Don’t let the stress of the couple rub off on you otherwise, you’d be trending on social media as one of the worst wedding photographers of all time.

 

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  • Speed

    Patience makes it sounds like you have to be slow which is, in some sense, true but then again, you have to be fast. See a beautiful smile on her lips? Capture it! Did she just hug her dad? Shoot it! Wait, was that a tear? If it was, then it should be on your camera roll by now.

As we stressed earlier, weddings are (most of the time) once in a lifetime events.  So you don’t have time to get carried away by the happiness around. Be merry but remember that no one invited you there to rejoice with them. If it weren’t for your camera, you probably would never have known about the wedding in the first place.

  • Practice

    Knowledge is never enough so even when you start having 5 shoots in a month, keep practicing. Thankfully, cameras are now lighter than they used to be.  So you can always carry yours along even if you’re not formally asked to shoot a wedding. Keep in mind that having sophisticated equipment is a nice idea.  For a newbie like you who probably only has enough to buy a fairly expensive camera, such equipment may not be necessary now. Become a pro with what you have first before getting a truckload of gadgets.

 

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  • Connect with your colleagues in the field

    Wedding photography is not a contest and as much as you desire to outshine others.  You won’t come close to the sun if you don’t work the others. Find a community of photographers around you and get involved. Even if you haven’t started getting clients, connect with other photographers and learn from them. Photography is all about collaboration and not competition.

 

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THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S CHECKLIST

Just like the intending couples, you – as an intending wedding photographer – need a checklist too. There are items you MUST have and others you could consider getting before the wedding day. Additionally, there are factors you must consider because if the photos turn out badly, the couple would curse you out every day they take a look at the photos regardless of whose fault it is.

So, you have every right to see yourself as a wedding planner as well because you make up a big part of the wedding too.

  • Venue

    Which location did the couple choose for their ceremony? Is it outdoor or indoor? If they’re courageous enough to make the ceremony an outdoor event, then it is your job to check the weather forecast. If they decide to stay in, then that would be one less thing to worry about.  But you’d have to imagine (because you may not be able to see the decor before the D-Day) what the lighting would be like. To be on the safe side, take all your lights along with you. Better safe than sorry.

 

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  • Style

    By now, you already know that you need to have a style that makes you stand out from the Dublin crowd.  However, the couple also has a taste and you would see that in their wedding theme. Some brides prefer fairytale-princessy themes and others prefer something more classic and simple. Have a chat with the couple (especially the bride) before the wedding to know what their style looks like to help you plan out how to capture every single detail before you step out that day.

Before any client contacts you, they may have already looked at your portfolio.  So if they’re asking for something dark, then it’s because they have seen that you’re good with capturing “dark” moments. So, whatever their preferred style is, it shouldn’t be strange to you.

  • Portfolio

    If the client did not see your portfolio before contacting you, then get ready to show it to them after the call.

If you made it to this point, then that is one proof that you’re ready to take on the task of becoming one of the best wedding photographers in Dublin. You would have to make sacrifices and you know that sacrifices could hurt but this one would pay off. Practice all you’ve learned here and in your photography tutorials too and watch the calls roll in.

Keep in mind that you are not just any ordinary member of the wedding crew; you are a superhero. Don’t disappoint the world with shabby photos, please.

 

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Please also to check out this very valuable article How to choose the right wedding photographer in Ireland!