Have you considered becoming a Central Coast wedding photographer? I was giving some thought to this prospect when I was recently asked what was the best way to “Get into wedding photography on the Central Coast”.
My initial response was an internal groan and a pleasant “Don’t do it”.
I realised that wasn’t really a fair answer and went onto make the following suggestions considering what I know now, after having photographed weddings for a while.
For the record, the initial groan and ‘don’t do it’ comment were for purely selfish reasons. With so many Central Coast photographers vying for work out there, just the thought of another one is enough to make me groan – in a recent post, I googled the term Central Coast Photographers and came up with 467,000 hits!
That’s life and it’s always been the same. I remember starting out, the older more established photographers were always complaining about the number of new ads in the Yellow Pages each year for wedding photographers. I don’t want to become one of those guys!
If I had of listened to them, I would never have started and there wouldn’t be an Impact Images today – what a shame that would be and what a life I would have missed! Speaking to Natalie, it is exactly the same for Newcastle wedding photographers and I dare say, in every part of Australia – there will always be plenty of competition.
Competition is good. It’s good for all the photographers as it pushes each of us to be better. It’s good for couples as they get more choice, better photographers to choose from with more skills. Competition can be scary though, if you aren’t willing to work hard and learn the craft and art that is wedding photography.
So, back on topic – my 5 tips to becoming a wedding photographer:
1. Go out with another photographer to see if you actually like the idea of photographing weddings. This is a biggie as there’s no use chasing a dream if the reality is a job that you consider to be crappy. You have to love working weekends, you have to love people and you will need some personality – unless you intend on being a purely photojournalistic photographer (the fly on the wall type that doesn’t need to interact… much). Getting out with a wedding photographer will be pretty tough in itself but if you want to give yourself a damn good chance, have a look at my video by clicking here. For $10, it will save you a lot of time, effort and heartache if you want to get that foot in the door.
2. Learn how to shoot in manual. I believe this is important, even if you end up shooting in Auto or semi auto (aperture or shutter priority) at weddings because there will be times when you will need to take control of the situation and override what your camera is telling you is right.
The other benefit of manual shooting is you will get consistency and you need that when shooting a wedding – especially if you are providing an album.
Here’s an example: You have the bride and groom walking toward you along a beach and you are shooting a sequence in aperture priority (f5.6). You start with a wide shot to take in the scenery and the couple – your camera gives you a shutter speed of 1000th of a second. As they draw closer, you are zooming in to fill the frame for a closer shot. As you continue to shoot, the tighter you crop, the slower the shutter speed (because there is now less light reaching the sensor) until you end up at 250th of a second. That’s a two stop difference between the first and last image and a bunch of combinations in between.
All this is fine if you are picking single image for a print but for an album spread with say six images, you will have some work to do if you want the images to look similar. There will be countless situations like this throughout a wedding day… countless.
3. Know how to shoot well in JPG mode. If you want to be a photographer, then you have to be able to get it right in camera. Yes, you will have much more latitude shooting RAW which is fine if you want to spend more time in post processing. If you can get good exposures shooting JPG then shooting RAW at a wedding will become a choice not a requirement to ‘save’ your images.
4. Become a good assistant. If you want to learn, it will be much easier with another photographer showing you the ropes. The secret is to make yourself invaluable to the photographer that is teaching you – forget about shooting yourself!
How do you make yourself invaluable?
- Get to know the way they shoot and anticipate what they need (probably the most important point)
- Know which lens is which in their bag and know how they like their bag laid out – keep it that way
- Know how to change lenses the way they like you to (Eg, camera body facing down to keep dust out)
- Stay off your mobile phone
- Dress appropriately
- Never keep the photographer waiting – weddings run to a strict timetable
5. Get out and shoot a wedding. The first one will be very stressful, so will the second and third but you will get there. Most people start by shooting friends wedding with lower budgets and working their way up from there. This is a great way to go. There will be less stress if there is less money involved but there will still be stress, after all, it’s a wedding and you don’t get a second chance!
Obviously there is a lot more to learn, but concentrate on the above first and try your best to get out with a photographer. Other things to consider before you take the leap will be your post processing workflow, album suppliers and design software (if you are going to offer albums), photoshop, advertising and marketing, prices, office space, back up equipment etc etc. I’ll be covering all these topics and more in my online photography training courses which can be found here.
Don’t let me put you off wedding photography on the CentralCoast, Newcastle, the Hunter Valley or anywhere else, that’s not my intention at all. Wedding photography has been amazing to me and for me and I can’t imagine a better way of life – I love it. If you think you will to, then do it!
As for the competition, it won’t be going away. There are more cameras sold today than ever before and there are more people keen to become photographers every day. Here’s a couple more stats from my searches on google in my local areas.
- Central Coast Wedding Photography: About 1,660,000 results (0.22 seconds)
- Newcastle Wedding Photographers: About 488,000 results (0.20 seconds)
- Hunter Valley Wedding Photographers: About 88,100 results (0.19 seconds)
Pretty scary stuff! I guess it all adds up to knowing your s%#t before going it alone and being prepared to work for your niche once you work out what that is.
Good luck and see you at Terrigal Haven, The Newcastle Baths or The Hunter Valley Vineyards soon!