Well, I know how hard it is to become a wedding photographer. Because I am one already and it feels not just okay- ish, But awesome! I keep getting a lot of requests from media students and amateur photographers aspiring to become a professional wedding photographers asking me for tips to become a wedding photographer. I am still not an expert.There are still seniors in the market who are doing a tremendous job and I see myself there in a very few days from today. but with an experience of shooting 200+ wedding ( as on July , 2016 ) i am quite sure i know a few pros and cons and can help you break some barriers you have in your head.
I would like to start with somethings you need to NOT DO if you want to become a wedding photographer. Lemme write some random dont’s that you definitely gotta understand well in the initial stages of your career itself. These will not make you a billionaire in a day, but trust me this will definitely help you in your journey of becoming a wedding photographer!
So here are they
DO NOT FEAR:
Fear is the biggest enemy when we think of becoming a professional. Definitely almost all of you there with basic knowledge of shutter speed,aperture and ISO aspiring to be a wedding photographer is already a photographer. But the fear comes only when you want to become a professional wedding photographer. The love for the art is the biggest reason for where i am today. If you think you love photography just go ahead despite fear and that love and craving will take you to your destination.
Do not fear the competition prevailing in the market. Every business for that matter has a lot of competition.Stop seeing them as competitors and start complimenting them. Yes, you can learn a lot from them. You can help each other with equipment and knowledge. No one can grab your business, because what is a picture to your eyes isn’t the same for another photographer. People come to you for your style and for the kind of person you are. Competitors can never take away the business that belongs to you.
I do have a lot of great photographers who are my good friends and we share a lot of knowledge with each other. Growing together, sharing knowledge is all fun, always.
DO NOT GO AGAINST YOUR HEART:
Yes! If you think you love to shoot food, become a food photographer. But know what you love and what you really want. At least in the initial stages, focus and specialize in one particular field. One day you do food photography, the next day you do portfolios and next day you do commercial and the other day wedding; you will not become a specialist in any of the above. I know a lot of my friends who failed exactly because they did not know what they wanted to do. They had sound knowledge in the basics but took up and tried all possible photography styles and landed nowhere. It is always good to start with one kind, become consistent and then shift the genre. You get enough experience in each of your focus area.
DO NOT RESTRICT YOURSELF IN A COMFORT ZONE:
Do not try to replicate. Yes you can, at the later stages. There are a lot of sites that helps us with images of wedding photography. But initially create your style. Come out of the comfort zone. Completely. Take references from various sites but use it as a spark to build your idea. You might not be creating something completely new everyday, but when you do not replicate you are happy about your own self. Replicating an image is just easy. But anything that comes easy is not gonna really last.
There is nothing called a bad picture, may be bad composition, bad lighting or bad reaction of the subject, if its a portrait. But it is all about liking and not liking. Photography is not maths that everyone will arrive at the same answer. Its an art that is interpreted differently by different eyes. Some may like and some may not. So it is okay. Do not stress yourself with the negative comments you get. Hear it but never take it to your heart. If you think a criticism will help you learn, learn from it. Do not lose hope. There are people who will only criticize but do nothing else. Know where to keep them.
“valid criticism does you a favor“ . Do what is personally fulfilling. Be unique. Do what feels right to you regardless of what others say.
DO NOT BE RUDE:
Indian weddings are mostly clumsy, unorganized, and unplanned. I have never attended wedding before i became a wedding photographer. Who will want to wake up so early? We may hardly have an idea how the weddings happen. Patience is the key here. With the guests, with the grandparents, with the bride and the groom, never be rude. It will take time to understand what i mean by this. You will have troubles from the athai and mama who will say they cannot see the rituals because you are hiding their view. You will have a best friend of the groom with a DSLR, coming and standing just in front of you all the time trying to take some fabulous pictures. You will have a little kid who will unplug or switch off the wire exactly when the knot is tied. But never be rude. Never show it on the face. Keep a big smile on your face. If you are not a friendly person, think over again to become a wedding photographer. Because it may not work out for you as you will have to smile to a lot of people and just be nice to the unknowns too.
DO NOT UNDER QUOTE:
This is one biggest mistake which even i did when i started. And i see a lot of photographers quote really less. Consequently the standard of your work will also come down.If you think you don’t deserve a decent price then improve your standards. Photography is an art. Not everyone with a camera can become a photographer. A true photographer knows his/her value. Know the market price, your expenses, over heads and fairly quote. You cannot do candid photography at Rs.3000 when another photographer starts with Rs.35000 or even more.When i quote, I really feel i do not take anything more or less than what i deserve. Become deserving. Or else do it for free and say its a compliment but never do it for less price. Your quality of work will double, triple eventually but you will be forced to quote the same.
DO NOT DEPEND ON FRIENDS & FAMILY:
When i wanted to become a serious wedding photographer, i was so confident that my friends will help me in getting business. I am a very social person and have 1500+ friends on my social media sites. Surprisingly for the first two years of my business neither my friends nor my relatives gave me any business. It is only when you grow to a level , your circle will notice you and be proud about you. When you are a beginner they will not. Not to blame them too. It is after all their once-in-a-lifetime event. Never feel hard about it but try doing complimentary shoots which you can use for your portfolio. The first 10 customers are the most difficult ones to get. Do a good job for them and see how it gets into a chain reaction. 90% of my business is through referrals and you know you are doing tremendously well when you start getting referrals. Friends are fun to work with but never completely rely on friends for business.
I guess i already wrote a lot of DONTS and there are still a lot more… But i felt these are some major donts to be considered at the initial stages. I will keep writing a lot of similar ones that will help beginners to develop both in terms of business and technique.
Chill out because its the right time to become a professional wedding photographer. DONT WAIT FOR TOMORROW .Today is the best day to become one. Best of luck
Sharadha Gopalakrishnan & Mani Kandan
Spreading Smiles (: (: