How to become a wedding photographer

A professional wedding photographer shooting at a wedding

It is estimated that there are over 278,000 weddings each year in the UK. With almost every wedding comes a professional photographer who’s been hired to capture the best and most beautiful moments of the day.

This is why there will always be a market for wedding photographers, making it a great opportunity for you to set up as a freelancer and become one yourself.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as buying a camera and finding a few couples that want to hire you.

How do I become a wedding photographer?

In order to become a wedding photographer, you may need to build up a portfolio, gain some experience, invest in the right equipment and learn the best ways to use it. We at Markel Direct believe in small businesses, and so to help you, we explain below exactly how you can become a professional wedding photographer and gain some clients of your own.

Assist as a second shooter

The best way to start out as a photographer is to begin by assisting an already-established wedding photographer. Someone with their own booming wedding photography business may well be in need of an assistant during the peak wedding season (usually June to September). It may be that this is on an unpaid basis, but it’s a great starting point and you could pick up some beneficial hints and tips from the first shooter.

As your confidence begins to build, you could gradually work up to being a second shooter. This role generally involves more than an assistant job, and you’ll have more responsibility and may even be in charge of capturing certain moments yourself. To be a second shooter, you will probably need some kind of portfolio to show the main photographer, and it’s even better if your styles align to keep some coherency between the photographs for the couple.

Practise, practise, practise

Practise is imperative as a photographer, and you need to be able to direct people, shoot in all lights and settings and get the photo you need quickly before moving on.

But you don’t necessarily just have to practise at weddings. If you want to get experience taking photos of people, you could practise on your family members and perform home photoshoots.

Know any friends having birthdays or gender reveal parties that they require a photographer for? Offer up your services for free, and you never know who will approach you on the day about another event they have in mind. These kinds of events allow you to practise photography in all weathers and settings and will give you plenty of experience when it comes to shooting weddings.

Join some professional bodies

When trying to get your first few clients, it’s important to show that you’re trustworthy and reputable. A great way to do this is by joining a few professional bodies, such as the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers. This is the largest independent association for photographers and with a subscription, you can get a website listing, the use of their logo to add to a website or portfolio, forum access to connect with other wedding photographers, and more.

Learn about your equipment

Life as a wedding photographer can be fast paced, and sometimes, you only have a few seconds to capture that perfect moment before it’s gone. This is why it’s so important that you know everything about your equipment and can use it confidently, correctly and quickly. Are you sure you’ve been through all the settings, know how much or little exposure you need, have a couple of lenses depending on whether you’re shooting up close or from afar? Would you be able to find the settings you need and take the photo, all while under pressure? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may need some more practise as a second shooter before doing a full wedding alone.

How do I get wedding photography experience?

Gaining experience as a wedding photographer can be challenging, but this experience will likely be necessary in order to attract clients and go it alone.

The first thing you can do is offer your services for free as a second shooter. We’ve already discussed second shooters in this guide, but it’s the best way to shadow an experienced wedding photographer while shooting your own pictures that you can add to your portfolio for the future. Any images you take will be owned by you, so while you can’t claim another photographer’s work as your own, you can include your own images and show these to future prospective clients.

You should begin to build a solid portfolio that really reflects your photography style. The way in which you shoot won’t appeal to every couple, so don’t feel disappointed if you don’t snap up new clients immediately.

You could also take an online photography course, particularly for wedding photographers. These courses can generally be taken in your own time and at your own pace, and could help by providing you with genuine qualifications and accreditations from a professional body. You should be sure before purchasing a course that it is from a reputable provider.

Take out the right insurance

For any photographer, wedding or otherwise, we advise considering business insurance to protect themselves and their equipment. We believe the best insurance for photographers to consider is professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance and portable equipment insurance.

Professional indemnity insurance covers you against professional negligence, unintentional breach of confidentiality, unintentional breach of copyright and loss of documents or data. Protection against each of these scenarios is strongly advisable, and the insurance would cover you should you receive a claim as a result of an error or omission in a piece of work, or if you share client information without their permission (such as their wedding photos) or lose the photos from their day. This insurance doesn’t cover your equipment.

Public liability insurance is important if you work on location or at a client’s premises. As a wedding photographer, it would be impossible to work fully from home, as you’re required to attend the weddings you’re shooting, so we think this kind of insurance should be high on your list of priorities. It’s also possible that the venue may require you to hold this. Public liability provides cover should you accidentally damage someone else’s property or injure one of your clients (should they trip over a photography tripod, for instance).

Portable equipment insurance can cover your cameras, tripods and expensive devices (such as laptops) that you use in the course of your work. Portable equipment insurance can protect your valuable kit against theft or accidental damage anywhere in the world – where we think is vital for wedding photography professionals.

Markel Direct offers specialist insurance for wedding photographers, with cover available online in a matter of minutes. Get an online quote now to protect your business.

Business insurance from £5 a month