Becoming a Photographer Entrepreneur

July 24, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

 

 

 

STRIVING TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR IN THE WEDDING INDUSTRY AS A PHOTOGRAPHER 

 

Being an entrepreneur your work is never done. It takes a lot of Time, Perseverance, Desire to Grow, + EXTREME Flexibility. 

It’s a ton of work to run a photography business. Many people underestimate the huge amount of time and responsibility it will take behind a computer screen doing countless hours of editing, accounting, and emailing to run a successful photography business. Let’s not forget to mention vendor meet-ups, Styled Shoots and other ways of working towards the promotion of your photography business. 

You’ll go through up times and down times, and some days you’ll just want to throw in the hat due to frustration l, but if you want to be a successful wedding photographer you’ll have to keep moving forward. Running a business is hard work and requires a lot of education + dedication. 

An entrepreneur to me, by definition;  is a risk-taker. An entrepreneur is someone who pursues their passion and is willing to take risks to realize their dreams. To become an entrepreneur is to have a vision, and to have the guts, drive, and motivation to accomplish it. The great thing about being an entrepreneur in photography? You can absolutely make extra side-income from your photography on the side, or you can seek to pursue to make a full-time living from your wedding photography. I first worked part-time then after my education and after my last child graduated high school, I then had the ability to travel and become a full time wedding photographer.

In the beginning my approach was to educate myself first. I wanted to have extensive knowledge and experience with the camera. I started shooting landscapes. I have always been an avid hiker, and I love to trek to the nearest waterfall. Water is challenging because of motion and light. A knowledge of moving objects and light is essential in any type of genre in photography. I learned in detail each setting on a professional camera and how to utilize the settings to create amazing works of art. 

I then decided I seriously needed to further my education and get back in school. I have always been an artist, I started by sketching at a young age, to having a camera in my hands at all times during my childhood and in later years.

I did a lot of decision making on what  schooling would be beneficial for starting a photography business. So I enrolled back into college at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and pursued my degree in the Arts and Graphic Design, where I graduated at the top of my class with honors.

Graphic Design education is an excellent tool intertwined with photography. I undoubtedly needed the extensive experience with Photoshop and editing, also to design any logo’s or any type of design work I would need as a photographer, whether it be for promotional materials or for the knowledge of building my own brand and website.

I  started business school three months before I graduated at AI. I wanted to be able to run every aspect of my business model myself that I had created while writing my business plan in business school, where I had also graduated at the top of my class.  I was also selected to be a Guest Speaker at graduation and was featured on the local news about how I overcame tragedy (an automobile accident that left me seriously injured to where I could not continue my duties as a Phlebotomist on my feet 12 hours in an emergency room setting) and had worked many years to finally open my doors as a striving Wedding Photographer. Which was to me, was an excellent way to promote my business - being featured on the local news.

After I gained knowledge of running a successful business completely.  I was able to create myself, logos, flyers, promotional materials, including building my brand and website. My plan was to have no overhead costs while getting my wedding photography business up and running.

So again, a lot of time went into even becoming a business owner, let a lone the time and skill it takes to be a professional wedding photographer. We are speaking of YEARS. It takes years to get the required education and knowledge of every aspect of your soon to be growing business, your brand, style, look and feel of your business. So many things come into play that most never even think of when they say they want to pursue becoming a professional wedding photographer. 

During your years of building your brand, including your business name, model, and the many other things that is needed to run a business,  you will still be gathering knowledge by what works for your business and what does not. You will also learn the hard way by trial and error - just as you did gaining your skills as a photographer. Don't give up! No matter how many times you fail,  it takes a lot of determination to become a successful business owner and professional photographer. 

You can charge a lot of money for this service. Especially if you have a lot of experience. Having a lot of knowledge photographing weddings is transferrable. The skills you learn can help with other photography fields, while expanding your experience in every aspect of wedding photography. This will be particularly helpful if you own freelance business. Your downtimes could be used for photographing portraits or engagements, for example.

In no way is this an easy or stress free area of photography. A lot of time is spent trying to find and meet clients. Then, you need to listen to their wedding plans and wishes and execute them. You only have ONE CHANCE to get your client's wedding or event "right". There is no do overs in wedding + events. So be utterly prepared. Extra batteries, lenses, filters, tripod and additional gear. You can not be over prepared in wedding photography. You prepare yourself for the worst at all times. Weddings are unpredictable and anything can happen. Lateness to an event being rained out due to weather.

As a business owner, you will also want to create a contract to use for your booked events. Writing a contract can be confusing in what all to add to it. You will learn over time, your contract gets longer every year. By gaining experience in events, you will learn by trial and error of what you want to have in your contract. Researching photography contracts is a must. You will also want to be aware of what the laws are in your county or state. Search other photographers in your area, many have their contract online. Reading these will give you an idea and maybe even some ideas you may have never thought of adding to your contract.

So, in closing, I would like to share what I think the TEN BEST things about being a Professional Wedding Photographer;

The 10 Best Things I LOVE about being A Wedding Photographer

Wedding photography is an incredible profession. It’s how many have began as photographers, as a result we can learn an incredible amount in a short timeframe, and you meet so many fantastic people and vendors. Believe me when I tell you it's  not all sunshine and unicorns, there are many truly awesome things about being a wedding photographer. Here’s the top best things I think about being a professional wedding photographer.

 

1. It's Amazing to be a part of not only a highly Photogenic Event, but to be a part of someone's Life Event is Priceless!

Seriously, weddings to me are amazing events to have the opportunity to shoot. You will never get bored, since there is always something happening, and each wedding is completely different! Not only do they take place in beautiful locations,  or destination resorts, but they are also extremely full of genuine energetic emotion. You get to spend your day capturing happiness, laughter, joy, anticipation, excitement, many times stress and maybe even some sadness. It’s so full of photographic opportunities your mind will absolutely spin and make you dizzy in creativeness, sometimes even overwhelmed. But ,personally for me I love the challenge and how special it is to be asked to create a lifetime of memories for a client. Even the speaking to a potential client is exciting, to see their anticipation and readiness to start planning the wedding of their dreams. It is truly a wonderful experience being surrounded by joy.

 

2.  I learn a Wide Range Of Photographic Skills + Do's and Don'ts 

As a wedding photographer you’ll find yourself shooting in a wide range of styles and especially weather conditions. There’s a lot time spent in the photojournalistic mindset, then when you switch to being a portrait, maternity or engagement photographer, directing and posing you clients more than what you do within a wedding. You will shoot lots of details, putting on your still life/commercial cap. You may do some shots of the location or venues, drawing on landscape and architectural skills., or join a photo walk in your town. Light-wise you’ll need to learn to shoot in sunlight, shade, rain, snow (if you’re lucky!!!), artificial light, and practically no light. You wind up becoming a very well-rounded shooter, able to adapt to ever-changing scenarios and lighting situations! This is why I am so thankful I started as a landscape photographer, because it is a tricky type of photography, especially with water. 

 

3.  I learned how To Work Under High Amounts of Stress

When you take photos, you have to make a lot of decisions. When you take photos during a wedding day, you have to make those decisions very quickly, and with sustained attention. Anticipating the moment or the shot can be sometimes overwhelmingly stressful. Sometimes you will have to be 100% focused for up to 14 hours straight., may times not even getting a break. If you haven’t had to do that before, it may sound impossible, but it is doable. It is what you put into it and how you handle stressful situations. The photography itself may not be stressful, but your client may be. But as experienced wedding shooters can tell you, you’ll eventually get used to it. You will soon be able to shoot a wedding in your sleep. After learning how to deal with stress, and you become familiar with the logistics of shooting a wedding you’ll become quite capable working under high amounts of stress. Quick decision making will become second nature, creativity will flow more easily, because you won't be overwhelmed with coming up with a creative idea + the overall stress,  and most importantly you’ll learn to work, + shoot, with much more confidence.

4. I Tell their Story through my Photographs + my overall Attention to Detail

With a wedding you practically have a story built right in to your images. But you have to be up on your game of when to capture these images and emotions during your event. There are characters, scenes, action, emotion, and even wedding themes that are implemented into weddings. Having a story in your images helps to tie them together, and create interest and flow all along the gallery. It also helps when you go to design albums, they will flow flawlessly. 

 

pictured/ Joy from A Zen Event - Weddings with Joy + Sarah from Hilton Head Vows

5. I Meet Amazing Clients + Vendors

Wedding photography is a people profession, and you get to meet some pretty incredible ones. There are, of course, your clients, who often can become more friends than clients, many for me have became family. (or flients, as I like to call them). Not only do you get to meet them, but you also get time to establish really solid relationships with them and get to know them on a personal level, which makes my job so much more enjoyable. I love to meet diverse individuals. You will also establish relationships with other vendors in the industry. Having good vendor relationships is definitely one avenue you want to keep on the straight and narrow, you want to build relationships, building relationships leads to referrals. If you don't care for a particular vendor, it's best to keep it to yourself. You have a reputation to uphold and you don't want to become known as "that girl" or "guy", because there is a high possibility that you will have another event with them in the future.

There is also even more people you’ll get to meet! There’s the bridal party, who you spend a fair amount of time with, the guests + family members at the wedding. You will create relationships with other vendors you work with, like florists, planners, decorators, etc. You will also get to connect with other local wedding photographers when doing your networking or participating in a styled shoot. They can be an amazing source of support, advice, and friendship and possibly a referral or two when they are booked for a certain day. 

 

6. I am my own #GIRL BOSS  +  I CHOOSE my Schedule 

Self-employment is no day at the pool folks,   but it can be pretty damn enjoyable. You make all the decisions - although sometimes can be stressful within itself.  By chance, if you are the faint hearted when it comes to stress. Wedding Photography may not be your calling. I also get to set my own hours. I get to decide whether I sit in my PJ's and edit all day, whether days off are Mondays or Fridays (or both!). And if I work really  hard, and succeed, I will reap all the rewards. Extra bonus: you can even work from  your own home! No need to have a brick and mortar business, or the expense. Pretty soon you’ll completely forget what “rush hour traffic” is, and I guarantee after not doing that commute every single day, you will one day go out into 5 pm traffic, for whatever reason, and say to yourself, "wow, I don't miss this - AT ALL"...
 

7. It allows me to be CREATIVE!

Wedding photography rewards creativity and gets others starting to look at your hard work.  Doing something totally different will get your work noticed among the many other shooters and potential clients. Remember,  doing the same old, same old doesn't get any attention. And since I am the one in charge, I can do whatever inspires me, just as you will. That sort of freedom is just what many creatives need to really let them explore and create something original, in some cases, many like myself have to have some sort of creative outlet.

 

8.  Your Wanderlust is for FREE!

Weddings happen all around the world, and brides are becoming more and more willing to hire someone out of state or even across the globe if they really feel that they have connected with you. Being a wedding photographer means that you could be exploring the map while shooting amazing events! It certainly takes a lot of work to get your name out there enough to be hired for international or out of state weddings,  but it’s completely possible, and many top shooters seem to be in a different  resort, state or a different country every weekend! Can you imagine? Traveling for free?

 

9. You get to Photograph a client's Fairytale

People spend countless hours preparing and planning for their wedding day, and a lot of that effort goes into ensuring that they will look their absolute most beautiful. That makes it pretty darn fun to photograph them! They are wearing fantastic outfits, their accessories are carefully chosen, their hair is perfect, and their makeup enhances their features. It’s like they are models for a day, but you still get all the fantastic real emotions. Win-win!

 

10. Create Work to Add to my Portfolio + Increase my Sales Potential - Setting my own Business Goals

Many wedding photographers can not guarantee that the work they produce will be looked at in 50 years, although I personally would like to think that. The images + timeless albums that you create for your clients will instantly become treasured family heirlooms that will be  passed down from generation to generation. Grandchildren love to look (and maybe giggle) at their grandparents in their wedding photos. I remember as a young girl looking at my parents wedding, and how vintage it looked to me. It was a different time and a different world. It was so enjoyable for me to share that to my children as well.  It means that you get to impact clients and families for generations.

This value is becoming more and more recognized, as wedding photographer is evolving your focus on capturing the feeling of a wedding day, and the real personality of your clients. Many brides now say that the photographer is the most important purchase. That’s pretty rad, isn’t it? You are the most important vendor at their event. You are being counted on and cheered for - to do an amazing knockout job that they know they are going to love for a lifetime! 

 

Good Luck and Happy Shooting! You got this! You can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it!

 

 


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