So, you’ve decided that you are interested in becoming a wedding photographer. You have a nice camera and you love taking pictures of family and friends. So, you have everything you need to quit your job and become a wedding photographer. If only it was that easy. I think that is one of the biggest problems with the wedding photography industry today. You have too many photographers who think because they have a camera that they can call themselves a wedding photographer. There is a lot more than just taking great pictures to succeed in running a wedding photography business. If you have the talent, but feel a little uneasy about starting a wedding photography business. I’ve come up with a few tips that should help you get your wedding photography business off the ground.
The biggest challenge in getting any business off the ground is start-up cost. A camera would be a good start. The problem is that the majority of professional quality cameras start at about $1,800. Why that might not sound like a lot. That’s just the camera body and does not include any lenses you will need. The lenses you will need to start can vary in price range, but a good start would be around $500.00. This would be the bare necessities to get started. Flash equipment and off camera lighting are a need, but not from the start. You can work on building up your equipment as you grow.
Setting up a home office is very important. This is where you will keep tracking of your clients as well as other important paperwork. For tax purposes you will need to keep all of your receipts. A home office provides a centralized location to keep it all together. It also provides you a place to edit your photos and meet potential clients. I will get into editing your photos a little bit later.
You will need to apply for a business license. Check the area you are in to see if a business license is even required. It’s not really difficult to get one and in most cases can be done online. You just have to make sure that if you shoot a wedding in another city or state to obtain a business license in those locations as well. It gives you credibility as well as protects you from fines if you are caught doing business without a license.
You will need to open up a business checking and savings account at a bank. It’s best to keep your personal and business accounts separate. For one it makes it difficult to keep up with personal and business expenditures. It also can cause major headaches if a tax audit is accessed against your business. The fees are usually minimal so that shouldn’t discourage you from opening one up. Shop around and see if the banks have free business checking or some other programs for small businesses.
You will need to obtain insurance. This will cover you from any liability and malpractice suits. Malpractice would come from a client suing you for not full filling your obligations. Liability will protect you from any damage that may occur while you are shooting a wedding. You never know when your equipment could start a fire or someone trips over your equipment. These are things you don’t think about until it’s too late. There are many professional photography organizations out there that offer very inexpensive insurance.
In the past you could get by with a business card and word of mouth. The reality is that today the internet and social media marketing are an important part of any wedding photography business. You will need to have a website setup and make sure you have e-mail as well. You don’t want to use a yahoo or g-mail account as your business e-mail. This doesn’t look professional for one and also may scare aware potential clients.
Put together a marketing plan that includes sites that you want to advertise with. There are wedding sites that cater to brides looking for wedding photographers. These sites do charge you to advertise, but your return on investment can be rewarding in the long run. If you haven’t already joined twitter or Facebook you should. This is a great way to drive potential clients to your website and give you even more exposure for free. You should also familiarize yourself with linking your website to other wedding professionals. This will also get you out in front over potential brides for little to no cost.
Part of your marketing plan and one of the most important parts or having a profitable wedding photography business is referrals. You probably haven’t shot any weddings or if you have your portfolio probably doesn’t contain much material. So, you are going to have to take advantage of each wedding you do have by making your customers happy. This will allow you to get referrals and even obtain repeat business. You would think making your customers happy would be obvious, but not all wedding photographers care. In most cases quantity over quality is the norm. Your quality will translate into happy customers and repeat business.
One of the last items you will need to start your wedding photography business is part of the quality process I just spoke about. Computer software is a must in today’s wedding photography. Software such as Photoshop will allow you to take a raw image and make adjustments to them. You can use these programs to fix a spot on a dress or adjust tones in the photo. You have the ability to crop out unwanted parts of a picture with this software. The software can’t be run without a computer. So, you’ll need to purchase a computer that has the specs to handle your software. If you already have a computer you want to use. Make sure you check with the software maker to see if your computer specs will allow you to run their software.
The most important aspect you have to keep in mind after starting a wedding photography business. It took you awhile to develop your photographic skill. So, it’s also going to take you awhile for your business to get going. If you ask anyone who has started a business the first thing they will tell you is that it takes lots of hard work. You may fail even after all your hard work, but it will definitely fail if you don’t put any hard work into at all. If having a wedding photography business is your dream then you have to give it all you have from the start. There are probably a lot of areas that will be new to you. Just take it as part of your learning curve and doing everything you can to make it work. If you give it all you have and work hard. Your reward will be a successful and profitable wedding photography business.