Some people spend many years honing their skills before they become wedding photographers; others pick up a point-and-click camera at a friend’s wedding and realise that being a wedding photographer is a fantastic job. Regardless of how they come onto the idea, many casual photographers consider this path at one time or another. But most of them don’t know about the realities of the job or the tools and skills required to do it successfully. Here’s a quick guide.
There’s no doubt that wedding photography can be an amazing and fulfilling job. Wedding photographers work with people on some of the happiest days of their lives. They get to shoot people at their best, dressed up in beautiful outfits, in stunning locations in and outdoors. They create poignant and lasting memories of joyful occasions. In addition, well-known wedding photographers can earn very respectable rates for their work.
However, there is a flipside to all this. Since weddings are so emotionally charged, making a mistake or missing special moments can cause a lot of disappointment for the clients. Weddings usually take place on evenings and weekends, meaning odd working hours and sacrificing personal family time.
The work is both physically and emotionally draining – long hours carrying heavy equipment, managing people, fitting into the whims of the clients and pushing yourself not to miss anything important. In practical terms, wedding photographers need a lot of expensive equipment (including backups), and the competition in the field is steep, which means having to market aggressively and lowering rates.
If you feel passionate enough about wedding photography to take the plunge, here is what you will need.
- Naturally, you will need a good quality camera, a versatile lens (ideally, you will have a few different ones), a flash and other lighting tools (like professional lights, diffusion boards and so on) and several large memory chips. It’s also vital that you have a backup for each of these vital tools.
- Many photographers shoot with an assistant, who helps to fill in extra shots or captures separate events happening somewhere else. Consider finding a helper for larger weddings.
- Since the bulk of digital photography work happens after the event, you will need a good computer and the necessary photo manipulation software. These element can get quite expensive, so be sure to calculate the costs in.
- It should go without saying that wedding photographers need to have excellent photography skills. Weddings cannot be repeated and moments cannot be paused while you prepare yourself. You need to be able to produce perfect shots under pressure. A wedding is not the place to test out new equipment or techniques.
- It should also be evident that you need to have good people skills and enjoy working with diverse and emotional people. Wedding participants can be nervous, overwhelmed, confused, elated and impatient, and getting them to pose in the correct ways can be tricky. If you don’t enjoy working with people, you may find the job very stressful.
- Finally, being a professional wedding photographer means that you are running your own business, and so you need the business skills to manage your schedules, clients, finances and marketing effectively. While the job is not all about money, make sure you price your services to reflect the quality and hard work you put in.
The University of Cape Town Digital Photography course starts on 25 March 2013. For more information contact Dominic on 021 685 4775 or email@example.com. Alternatively, visit www.getsmarter.co.za.
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