As a wedding photographer, I am often asked about those first initial steps in the wedding photography journey. So, I thought it would be fun to put together some popular FAQs for beginner photographers. Enjoy!
+ Two things: Be kind and be legal.
A photography friend of mine once shared this with me and it has stuck ever since. Be sure to set parameters in place that will help you be both kind and professional. If you don’t start off on the right foot, you will regret it. Take contracts, for example. Contracts are one of the absolute best ways to protect you and your business. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to a photography friend you can glean from or reach out to a lawyer who can help you do things right.
+ Slow growth is good growth.
It can be really easy to get frustrated when it comes down to figuring out who your ideal client is, what aesthetic you want your photo edits to achieve, and etc. But take your time! The faster you climb, the faster you will fall / burnout. Taking your time will make your journey of photography education and growth so much more enjoyable. Trust me on this one.
+ Don’t follow too many wedding photographers.
We can easily lose ourselves in the vicious comparison cycle and justify it by calling it “inspiration”. When we do this, we get stuck in the trap of “I’m not good enough; I should be ten steps ahead of where I currently am; this person does X better than I do,” which does nothing but drain us of our sense of purpose and belonging. Set boundaries in place that will protect you from this toxic thought process!
+ My best piece of advice for this would be to find someone you can second shoot with and learn from.
I would also encourage you not to book clients/shoot weddings on your own until you have second shot for at least 15 weddings. I am a firm believer in doing all things with excellence, and this is one of the best ways you can ensure excellence in your business- by starting under someone you can learn from in order to grow in the ways you need to before venturing out on your own.
Before I discovered I wanted to be a wedding photographer, I had only been to two weddings. Now, with three years under my belt, I have shot over 110 weddings, and most of them I have second shot. I have no shame in saying that, just confidence! And here’s why: Because I am able to walk into any wedding day and anticipate what’s coming. I can craft a timeline without thinking too much about it and I can help ensure the day is as successful as possible because I have experienced so many different wedding days.
Knowing how to shoot a wedding day is one thing. Knowing how to direct a wedding day is a whole other thing. Both are equally important! Do not be afraid to reach out and ask around for opportunities to assist and second shoot so you can learn these very things. You will not regret it. Remember: slow growth is good growth.
+ My second piece of advice would be to invest in education.
You cannot expect someone to invest in you for their wedding day experience if you are not willing to invest in yourself. Whether it be workshops or one-on-one mentoring sessions, always be willing to learn- no matter how much you think you know. Fun fact: I am taking an online workshop next week to learn more about composition. Don’t just invest in anyone because it’s the trendy thing to do. Find someone you are truly inspired by and go to them for your education need-to-knows.
+ My final piece of advice for this question is share what you want to shoot.
It takes a while to find your style and know exactly what it is you want to shoot. But when you get to that point, share what you want to shoot. If you are wanting to shoot authentic, genuine moments, don’t share a lot of posts that don’t show these things. I didn’t truly find my style until August 2020. This is when I really felt like I had found my people, my style, and my approach. That was my 3-year mark! So, friend, be patient with yourself and enjoy the ride. It’s not going to happen overnight, but you will get there.
Photos by Shiloe Osborne.
When it comes to prepping for a wedding day, I always finalize the timeline with the couple at least two weeks before the wedding. I send a wedding day details questionnaire six weeks before the wedding and then we will hop on the phone 2-4 weeks before the wedding to finalize the timeline, family shot list, and any additional details so that we are all on the same page and expectations are clear. As a photographer, I have found you are usually the voice of reason and the support buddy. So, make sure you prepare for this role as well!
I also clear the memory cards I need and charge the batteries the day or two before the wedding so that everything is good to go. This way, I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off on the day of.
Finally, I take the time to hop on the phone with the planner or day-of coordinator to ensure we are on the same page so that neither of us makes the other’s job harder than it needs to be on the day of.
Photo by Parker Chase.
When I first started, I had one full-frame camera body- the Canon 5d mark IV and a 50 mm lens. This was my setup for over a year while I second shot for weddings and it worked great!
Now, I use two Sony full-frame mirrorless camera bodies. I have one on each hip throughout the wedding day until the reception. Once the dancing starts, I drop to one camera. I always have my 50 mm lens on one hip and 35 mm on the other hip. I also do a 25 mm lens for open dance floor shots. Sometimes, I’ll whip out my 70-200 mm lens for the ceremony. As you can see, my gear setup is a little more complicated than it was when I first started. But this is just my preference! I could still show up to a wedding day with my one camera body and 50 mm lens and knock it out the park.
^me getting to shoot and be in one of my best friends weddings!!!
And there you have it (for now, haha)! If I want you to take anything away from this post, it’s this: there are no expectations on you. Being a photographer has been one of the most rewarding journeys I’ve ever been on, but I have been guilty of losing out on the joy of this experience because of making myself believe I’m not good enough. I don’t want that to be you, because it’s just not true. And I think the one truth that can really reiterate this is that slow growth is good growth. Slow growth is not bad growth and it’s not zero growth. Slow growth is good, beautiful growth. Don’t forget it!
If you enjoyed my FAQ’s for beginner photographers, be sure to check out the systems I couldn’t run my business without!
brand + web design by kindly by kelsea
Some of these images were taken while second shooting with other photographers. If I am unavailable for your day, I would be more than happy to send you to one of these trusted photographer friends of mine.
All images © 2020 Bailee Starr Photography, LLC | Terms & Conditions