The Three Core Skills You Must Have to Be a Professional Wedding Photographer
Working as a wedding photographer is a big responsibility, and there can be great pressure on you to deliver an impressive set of pictures every time you accept a booking. Professional wedding photography can also be very rewarding, and there are creative as well as financial rewards. Many enthusiastic amateur photographers see weddings as a way to earn a living doing something they love. However, wedding photography is about more than being able to operate a camera.
Becoming a great photographer is a constant learning process. There are always new techniques and styles to experiment with, and advances in technology mean photographers have to learn new technical skills all the time. A wedding photographer also has to keep up with changes and trends in wedding fashions and styles, and this adds a further challenge to his role.
The following are the three core skills of a professional wedding photographer. It may take you several years to develop them, but the effort will be worthwhile. A person with a good balance of these skills will be in constant demand as a wedding photographer, and will be able to make a full time living from photography.
1) Technical skills.
Technical camera skills are the foundation of making a living by photographing weddings. Knowing what equipment to use and being able to operate your camera must be second nature to you. You should be able to select the appropriate camera settings and take a perfect picture every time. It’s fine to operate your camera in automatic mode sometimes, but you should have an understanding of the aperture and shutter speed settings required to get the most from every picture.
Professional photographers generally shoot in the more advanced RAW mode, rather than JPEG mode used by amateurs. Shooting in RAW involves work in the digital darkroom to process and get the best from every image, and this is an additional skill you may have to develop. Excellent camera skills mean you will be able to work in all weathers and lighting conditions, and make the bride look her best in every picture. If you think your technical photographic skills need sharpening, concentrate on this before considering a career as a professional wedding photographer.
2) Creative skills.
Couples will generally have expectations of a standard set of pictures of their wedding day, such as the arrival of the bride and the cutting of the cake. However, a successful wedding photographer must always look for creative and original ways to take these standard shots. Shooting to a formula will result in dull pictures and disappointed customers. A creative photographer will look for ways to capture the personalities of the bride and groom, and capture the emotion of a wedding day.
An effective set of wedding photographs should tell a story and serve as a reminder of the day for decades to come. It’s important to get to know the couple to achieve this, and to understand their values and what’s important to them. Some couples simply want their wedding to be a celebration with family and loved ones, but for others it’s more about the religious aspects and their commitment to each other.
3) People skills.
With very few exceptions, weddings are about people. The wedding party and their guests can be highly stressed and emotional on the day, and they can be difficult to deal with if things don’t go to plan. Most wedding guests don’t want to spend hours having their photographs taken, but it’s the professional photographer’s job to do this. A couple won’t thank you after the day if you explain that their guests didn’t like having their pictures taken so you gave up.
The professional photographer must always be polite but firm. You must be able to persuade people that your job is to produce a creative record of the wedding, and that you need them to co-operate with you to achieve that. Some people’s focus will be getting to the bar for a celebratory drink, but you must be able to convince them they are needed for the wedding pictures.
Every wedding photographer develops his own style and approach, but these core skills are essential to success.