There are times when you feel that your skills have reached a level where you can venture out with your passion. But is it the right thing to do and more importantly how should you go about doing it?
We put this question in front of Atul Pratap Chauhan, a wedding photographer from Delhi when we met him for coffee. Atul is a wedding photojournalist or a luxury wedding photographer and gets most of his business flowing in ,through his official portfolio website (www.weddingdaybyatul.com) hosted and built on Pixpa . He had some interesting insights about taking the first step towards becoming a successful wedding photographer.
Here are the 9 Ways on How to become a Successful Wedding Photographer:
Wedding Photography Tip #1 : Start with your inner circle
But first it’s time for some tough love. Having your family or friends hiring and telling you your photography is great is just not reason enough to go out on your own full time. You can only know the ‘right time‘ when people in your immediate close circle, family and friends start referring your services to outsiders. That’s a sign of trust and that your skill set has matured. Once you start getting references on a consistent basis, then is the time to evaluate your progress. It also might be the time, when you should take your next step in becoming a wedding photographer.
Although it should be noted that starting part- time is the right answer for some of us; for others it could be full- time.
Wedding Photography Tip #2 : Understand the business behind wedding photography.
The first thing you should do is to understand the business. You start that by finding out who is the competition and what/who are they targeting; and then, make sure you separate yourself from the competitors in the market. The reality being that everyone with a camera in the market is your competitor. The millions dollar question is – What will be your USP?
Next is deciding what type of photography you wish to focus on followed by creating a client list. The list will increase as you progress but it is important to keep a tab for the sake of networking. Then when you move on to finding your target market, the list is very helpful in doing the same.
Wedding Photography Tip #3 : Be smart about your pricing and stay on top of your expenses
Next, is to add up all your expenses. This includes everything from equipment, rentals, gas, insurance, set materials, to assistants and processing time. You also need a realistic target, how much you wish to make in a year. This will help you plan accordingly by dividing the number of assignments, days or hours you expect to earn over the next year.
You should use your current history as a benchmark, which will give you a realistic idea as to how much you should charge. Per image pricing is often recommended. If you are still confused about how much you should charge, compare your rates with the local photographers in the market. Competitive pricing is a safe way to venture out. You will get a better idea of the going rate once you get the groove of things. A word of advice, don’t be ‘the cheap photographer’. Be a consummate professional and you want to be able to be taken seriously and compete in the market.
Keeping the rate card handy is a good practice as it helps you to estimate project costs in just a glance.
Wedding Photography Tip #4 : Develop your Brand
Establishing yourself as a BRAND is another step towards professional marriage photography. Keep the key elements of your look very consistent throughout your paperwork, business cards, sales material and website. Going too colorful and trendy is not very professional.
Wedding Photography Tip #5 : Create a great wedding portfolio website
One of the most important things that you definitely cannot afford to neglect is a having good online presence and to accomplish that you need a website. For a creative professional, not having a website today pretty much means next to no business. Sharing you best images on your website makes it easy for the potential clients to view your work. Making it easy for the site visitors to contact you is very important. Keep your portfolio website simple, fresh and concise. No one has the time to deal with complicated websites.
Pixpa can help you build and manage a wedding portfolio website easily.
Wedding Photography Tip #6 : Use client proofing tools to manage your workflows and keep clients happy
Using an online client proofing tool to share your work with your clients will help you streamline your work flow. Clients will appreciate the ability to view, share and give feedback on the images you have shot for them, quickly, efficiently and easily through an client proofing gallery.
You can also deliver your files digitally to clients hence cutting down hassles and time.
Happy clients will become your evangelists and a source of repeat business.
Wedding Photography Tip #7 : Take care of the legal stuff
Another important thing to keep in mind is to protect yourself. Contracts are important to you and your clients. Keeping your work copyrighted is important if someone plans to resell your images without permission.
Wedding Photography Tip #8 : Build your network
Network is everything in starting a business. People are the secret to any business. Build your network; connect with people online and offline. Encourage and reward people who refer new business to you. Your supporters, fans and champions will only help you increase your business. Appreciate them.
Wedding Photography Tip #9 : Keep learning and growing
There is no end to learning as the photography business and marketing rules keep evolving. Read books, watch tutorials, take classes, workshops and seminars, which will help you be better at your work one small step at a time.
Improve your marketing with better techniques and efficient workflows and let your photography skills flourish around you to build a successful business in photography.
And lastly, have faith in yourself. All the best for your new start in becoming a successful wedding photographer!