Going from 0 to 1 is always the hardest move in any venture. However as the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles starts with just one. Wedding photography is no different. You may already have photography experience even. Yet I am talking from experience when is say, there are no shortcuts when it comes to getting bookings and building a portfolio. You have to start somewhere, and this blog is going to explain why working for free is your best option.
Now I am not saying you should do a whole 12 hour wedding for free when you start out. Although this would help. I would have to say that you do need, however, a certain amount of photos on your site to pull a crowd. These photos need to be of different brides and couples. It is no good having the same one bride on your site through-out, as this is a dead giveaway that you probably have only done one wedding.
Now this will be a convenient time to explain what I think is a crucial top tip; understanding the 7 Hour rule. The 7 hour rule is a rule used by marketing professionals to assess the amount of time it takes someone who is considering a large purchase. This is the amount of touch points, target points or links that you need on your site in order for someone to become familiar with you or your product. To begin with you will not have this many pages or photos – however you can beef up your site with Bios, blogs and venue pages – although what people will really be looking for is the gallery page. So what options do you have if you haven’t taken a picture of any brides? There are several things you can do; if you are already going to a wedding, take your camera, if you have a friend of a friend whos wedding it is then take a camera. Another option is for you to go to a paid course where they will have actors dressed in bridal outfits. Finally ring your local DJs/band who do weddings and ask if you can photograph them and then take some shots of the bride and groom. Either way you need to get some bride pics.
Once you have these pics – the next best thing to do is arrange a free engagement shoot.
Why are free engagement shoots a great opportunity? Because they help you:
Gain experience meeting couples
Gain experience with portrait photography
Learn the best areas around you to go for engagement shoots
Learn the best lenses to use for portrait photography
Expand the amount of time up to the 7 hour of communication you have with the clients
Now the last bullet point is key. No amounts of clickable links on your site are going to give your potential client the level of familiarity that is needed to commit to booking you. Some of photographer may not even be as good as you, however if he has a greater track record that is the person they are going to go for. However if you can get a meeting in and the couple likes you, this will be enough to clinch the booking.
The aim of the game when you are getting started as a wedding photographer is to build confidence in your clients that you are able to take a good picture. Since you wont have a large portfolio working for free and doing an engagement shoot is going to be your best bet. Maybe you don’t get a booking from this. However you will definetly be on your way.