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Wedding Photography – Don’t Underestimate What It Takes To Get Started!

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Photo Copyright Scott Bourne

Post By Skip Cohen

Every time I’ve spoken at a photographic school I always open by asking the same few questions.  I ask for a show of hands of how many people want to be fashion photographers?  How many want to photograph cars, Harleys, etc?  How many photojournalists?  Then portrait, outdoor/landscape and finally weddings.

The big winner is always the commercial fashion and product group and wedding is always in last place.  But, the best part of those few lonely hands of people wanting to be wedding photographers is what I say next.

“Okay, everybody get the names and addresses of these few future wedding photographers, because they’re going to be able to buy you dinner while you chase your dreams!”

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of all the photographic specialties and an even bigger fan of chasing dreams, but so many people still fail to see how great wedding photography can be.  So, like any career path, if you’re going to do it, then do it right!

1)    Photographic Technique: Great wedding images are absolutely driven by photographers who understand photography.  You don’t have time to re-take the shot if you miss it.  You have absolutely no control over your environment.  And, you don’t have time to take a break or rethink your approach. Your foundation for success needs is based on a solid understanding of photography: composition, lighting and exposure!

2)    People Skills: If you’re lousy with people, give up any idea of being a success in wedding photography.  A great wedding photographer has the combined skills of a psychologist, artist and priest!  A typical wedding day is loaded with stress and it’s often going to become your job to help keep the bride and groom mellow and having fun!  The trust a bride and groom put in their photographer often goes well beyond just capturing memories.

3)    A Mind’s Eye:  In his new book, Wedding Photography from the Heart: Creative Techniques to Capture the Moments that Matter, Joe Buissink talks about how he’s worked to develop his “mind’s eye” and visualize the images he wants to capture, before he’s clicked the shutter.  I’m not sure if it’s artistic talent or his ability to understand his clients, but the result is simply an amazing collection of images at wedding after wedding.

4)    Confidence: This isn’t just about understanding photography and your equipment. It’s about understanding people.  Photographers like Joe, Bambi Cantrell, Jim Garner, Dawn Shields, Jerry Ghionis and Yervant, just to name a few, know exactly how the final images are going to look and they especially know how their confidence plays a roll in developing trust with their clients.  Their confidence contributes an almost Zen-like calmness on the day of the wedding.

5)    Asking for Help: I’ve seen commercial photographers work on a product shot for hours until they get the look they want, but a wedding photographer only has one chance at each wedding.  However, wedding photographers seem to know when to ask for help.  Just take a look at the questions that come up on the Digital Wedding Forum, (DWF) www.digitalweddingforum.com and the responses when somebody is in need of advice. You can’t be afraid to ask for help.  Even more important is taking advantage of opportunities to be second shooters and assist other more established wedding photographers in order to keep learning the best ways to cover a wedding.

6)    Be A Storyteller: A great wedding photographer is the best of storytellers with the ability to edit the images from a wedding and produce an outstanding album.  That album is the first family heirloom of a brand new family and done right, it can open the door for hundreds of future opportunities.  Remember, the younger the bride the more friends she has who are going to get married!

7)    Never Compromise on Quality:  From the quality of your gear, to the images themselves – a good wedding photographer NEVER compromises.  No photographer should ever compromise, but because of the time constraints and the trust bridal clients put in their photographers there is absolutely no room for mistakes!

And the most important quality is that all of the great wedding photographers have an incredible sense of pride.  Think about that for just a second.  What would a wedding album look like without great images?   We’d all be looking at sketches that made the album about as exciting as the jury artist who did the OJ trial!  Bridal clients put their complete trust in their photographer – not to just tell the story, but to be their eyes for all those moments of joy they might miss.

Monte Zucker, one of the industry’s most amazing legends, as a portrait and wedding photographer, was once given a lifetime achievement award at a luncheon at the UN.  Along with him on the platform were several photojournalists who were being awarded for their coverage of various wars and 9-11.  Monte accepted his award and then said, “I’m so honored to be here.  All of you have to photograph the world the way it really is, but I’ve got the most amazing job.  I get to photograph the world the way it should be!”

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a fan of all the photographic specialties, but without question, wedding photography is near and dear to my heart – it’s an incredible career path, but only if you do it right.

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Written by scottbourne

May 18, 2010 at 7:59 am

Posted in Business

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