How long does it take to become a wedding photographer?
“How long does it take to become a wedding photographer?” This is a question I asked myself not that long ago. My brother had recently made the transition into wedding photography and had 30 bookings within only 2 years!!! Having seen the results that had come from the motivation and commitment that my brother had shown I felt like I could do it myself.
Now I have to admit, my brother is self-employed and runs his own online business that has given him the luxury to be able to dictate his own hours. This in turn helped him to be able to flex his time a lot more to work on the project. I on the other hand was working as a chartered accounting working as a full time financial analyst and so did not have as long to work on it. So, I was a little bit sceptical on whether I could achieve the same results. Even still I am a firm believer that if you set your mind to something and you are prepared to give yourself and hour a day to work on it you can achieve amazing result in a fraction of the time.
What is crucial to understand before I continue is you have to be able to designate some time every day to work on this. Whether this means getting up an hour earlier than you do, or going to bed an hour later, maybe you don’t watch that second hour of TV. Note: some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business leader either limit themselves to one hour of TV or none at all a day. Most of them instead work and focus on self-improving factors, whether that be business, health or relationships.
Who is blog for and what will you be discussing?
Obviously, this blog is for someone who is keen on photography, with some experience. Having said this everyone is a photographer these days with the invention of the iPhone. However, this is blog is suited for someone who wants to earn some money from it and take the profession a little more seriously.
I will hopefully be able to give you an idea of what is necessary to become a wedding photographer, how long it will take as well as provided some inspiration and pointers.
Starting with a plan
I remember reading a study that said that a number of Harvard College students, say 100, were asked what they wanted to do with their lives once they left. Of the hundred that were asked 50% did not know, 30% had a plan but didn’t know how to achieve it, 15% had a plan and a way of executing it, and only 5% had a plan understood how to achieve it and wrote it down. They looked at those students 5 years later and as you can imagine the college students that had wrote down their plan had far exceeded the success, salary and goals that the students that had not.
It is so important to have a plan and know what you need to do to achieve those goals. Moreover, as it says in the book, The Magic of Thinking Big, make the goals exaggerated and challenging. Aim for the stars and if you fail you will land on the moon. What’s more – WRITE IT DOWN.
So before starting this wedding photography project aim to be ambitious and set yourself a manageable but challenging goal. Force yourself to work on the project on a daily basis. With this will come the compound intellect and experience that others will not achieve that makes their goals stretch for timeframes that we cannot afford to do.
I will go into a bit more detail below on the short, medium and ‘long’ term goals that you can set yourself to set up your own photography business in no time at all.
So how long does it take from starting out, not having a camera, to going on your own wedding photography shoot?
This will largely depend on the time that you spend each day working on developing your business. I believe that a reasonable target would be just 1 year! This may seem completely unreasonable however this is what you should aim for, because why not? You don’t want to end up with exclusivities (the disease that causes us to see the reasons why you cannot achieve what you want).
The following breakdown is what I believe YOU need to complete and achieve for you to be able to get a client and actually start wedding photography, including the timeline that you should be aiming for.
Building a website
Your first step is to buy a domain name and the start developing a website. Technology has now moved on from the days when you would need a computer programming degree in order for you to program a website. There are plenty of website out there that make this really simple – where there are pre-set formats and you can simply drag and drop the photographs to.
The site I use in order to buy your first domain name was Godaddy.com. I suggest buying a low-cost option which should be around £20 for 2 years. I would also suggest that you also choose a domain name using “.com”, moreover the domain itself should include “weddingphotographer”, “weddingphotography”, or “photography”, as it will help your ranking on google as there will be a similar term within your domain when people search for this in your area. This is not the be all and end all, however every little help.
For designing your website, I would recommend using the website Wix.com. This site has pre-set wedding photography formats that makes it supper easy to edit your site. Although this site is very easy to use it may still take a bit of going before you are in a position to publish and show to the world.
I would say that in total this could take up to a month or two. This is because there is a minimal amount that you will require to be updated before your site can look established.
The minimal amounts that you require:
Home page – including details of your photography style
About me section
Venue page showing venues in the area you like, including a detailed description of the venues features (again this will help with SEO – later explained)
Blog (for SEO – 10 blogs initially)
Prices page and or questionnaire
Contact me section
All in all, this is a significant amount of work to do in and around a full-time job, and isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. I would just set yourself daily goals for completing and little by little you should find your way there. For inspiration please feel free to visit the rest of my website for examples.
Buying photography equipment and Learning how to use it
Now I am aware that if you are reading this you may in fact already have the equipment needed in order to start your wedding photography journey. However, if you do not, please visit my last blog, on the only “5 lenses that you would need to be a wedding photographer”. In this site, I explain what I feel you need to get started. Even if all you have is a small budget and want to just get one lens. Once thing I see a lot of photographers doing is buying every piece of equipment available thinking that if they have the equipment, they cannot be caught in an awkward position on the day, which is somewhat true, but also not necessary. If you think about it you will only ever have two camera bodies on you, and therefore you only have the capacity to have two lenses at any one time.
In brief, I would suggest getting something like the Canon Mark III and 85mm and 35mm prime lens.
In terms of learning how to use the camera, the time frame for this will depend on first how technically minded you are as well as how often you use the camera.
I would say that the initial stages of learning how the camera works will be quick. But mastering all the features from learning shutter, ISO, exposure, depth of field and more may take you 6 months to get the hang of. You will not learn this quickly unless you are using the camera in all types of lights and occasions. Really get into the habit of taking the camera everywhere that you go – this will also ensure that you feel comfortable using the camera in front of people. In particular street photography, I found helped me a lot!
I will feature in later blogs a more precise account of all things photography and technical. As it would be too extensive to include here.
Building a Portfolio
One thing you may be wondering is how are you able to create a website if you don’t have any photos to put on it. Moreover, if you don’t have any photos to put on your website then how can you imagine that you will be able to attract any future business. This is a sort of catch 22.
Now this is a tricky thing to get around, but you do not necessarily have to partake in a full wedding in order for you to be able to get some photos. There are plenty of wedding photography courses. However, if you can email all the photographers and wedding DJs in your area you may be able to attend as a secondary photographer and therefore take some live wedding photography shots, which would also be able to give you some training on site and how to deal with wedding attendees, capturing shots in difficult times.
This could take you several months before you can attend a course or that you can finally convince someone to take you along for aw q w3doneq4y pho5ot4qph34. But once you do have a gig you can maybe get 600 brilliant photos to pursue your site and then you are firing on all cylinders and start attracting clients of your own!!
Learning SEO and start advertising
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of ranking your website on search engines, namely Google. Learning all the techniques to rank your website can take a significant amount of time given that it is almost a science. Google constantly changes its underlying algorithm which means there are edits to your websites.
The importance of ranking your website on the first page of google is massive. For instance, if you are ranked number one on google you will achieve more clicks that the next ten searched links combined. So just imagine how few people click onto the second page. Clicks are so important as they provide you the opportunity to make conversions. Conversions can then turn to business!
Once you have designed your site I would start blogging at least one blog once a week. Blogging about wedding photography gives google the opportunity to find key words in your searches and therefore start ranking them for searches that people may be looking for.
There a significant number of other factors such as;
Time spent on website
Click through rate
Whether people have found what they are looking for by not making further searches after the first search
Social media presence
What helps with the searches above is to also advertise on google. Again, this will be something for a later blog. There is also a huge amount of information on this topic as well.
Two books and blogs that helped me immensely with both these topics would be as follows:
Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords (4th Edition)
SEO 2017 (by Adam Carke)
Blog Millionaire (Podcast)
There is almost an unlimited amount of resources to use. However, to get the gist of the principles should take you a couple of months. The most important thing is to keep improving and keep producing more material every week. If possible start writing two blogs a week. As Tony Robins says “knowledge is not power – action is! Execution trumps knowledge every day of the week!”. As long as you keep producing material, your site should continue to grow. All in all, it is possible to rank your site on or near the front page of good organically for certain searches within one year if you play your cards right.
Hopefully this blog has been of use to you and has given you some guidance of the steps it would take for you to become a wedding photographer as well as how long it would take to start generating business organically.
I think the key is to continue to pursue your goals on a daily basis. Write down at the end of each day what you want to achieve the next day - so that when it comes you can start working straight away. Being a wedding photographer is not something that is out of your reach. Thousands of people doe it everyday - the difference between them and you is that they had the gumption to pursue it. Moreover if I could do it on the side of a 60 hour working week than you should be able to.
I started as a photographer because of the love for capturing pictures. I love editing photos. I love the stories that a single photograph can tell. I was someone who loved to be productive... I got to the point where I didn't like to just spend my evenings infant of the TV. This was the perfect outlet for me. It wasn't about the money. I was happy to work for free to start with. Now that I am a photographer and setting up my own business I love the feeling that I have created something on my own from scratch. You can get the thrill of this too!
To find up more information on photography and wedding photography than please visit my blog site!