by Laura Novak
Many moms naturally gravitate towards portraiture since their passion for photography often begins with capturing their own children. Yet, wedding photography is also a fantastic way to explore image creation and can be more convenient and economical for mothers. I would love to share with you the three ways that you can quickly get into the lucrative wedding market while maintaining a great quality of life as a mom.
As you are just starting out in the wide, wonderful world of photography, and are also in the moment with being a mom, it makes sense that you would gravitate towards family portraiture first. Why not? It’s where your heart is right now!
But let’s take a step back for a moment. Where did this beautiful journey begin for you? Probably when you found Mr. or Mrs. Right and began dreaming about your life together! Remember the excitement and magic of planning and living your beautiful, Big Day? It was full of joy and was the start of a beautiful journey. To help another woman capture this same moment, the moment where it all began, is truly heart warming and personally gratifying. Engagement and wedding photography is a way to be a part of this beauty, and a way to start the journey with your clients. Imagine how wonderful it will be to follow them from engagement, to wedding, to maternity and beyond.
From a practicality standpoint, wedding photography fits well with the lifestyle of a mom who wants to be hands on and engaged in her children’s day-to-day lives, and also wants to build a career for herself over time. The beauty of wedding photography is that most weddings are on weekends! It is an amazing opportunity to make money, build a client base and establish yourself, while saving on the childcare expenses and other stresses of going back to work in another environment. Weekends become your time to engage with other adults, meet new people, make great connections … and enjoy a glamorous social setting away from the dirty dishes and laundry!
So, enough about the reasons why wedding photography can be a great path for you… on to the “how”!
Step 1: Get out there and find a wedding photographer you can assist.
Not only is this a great way to gain experience, it is a great way to build a portfolio, and get paid for it in the process. In my area, assistants typically make $250 for a wedding, and sometimes a bit more, depending on the wedding and their skill set. Here are some great tips for using your time wisely as an assistant.
- Being willing to carry a bag, set up a lightstand, or hold reflectors puts you at a great advantage over other assistant photographers who may think such jobs are “beneath them.” When you are in the learning phase, these tasks are great opportunities. You will see first hand how someone uses their tools to capture the best images. And you will become incredibly comfortable with using these tools yourself. Let a potential employer know that you are excited to learn and no job is too small!
- Bring your own gear! If you are hard-working, motivated and a positive member of the team, there may be an opportunity for you to shoot during the wedding as well. During slower times such as dinner, the lead photographer may be willing to let you take a turn with the cameras and see what you can get. Once you have a collection of your own images, you will be able to market yourself as a shooting assistant for more established photographers and bigger weddings.
Once you have gained confidence, experience and built a portfolio, it’s time to take the plunge and start marketing yourself as a wedding photographer in your own right. Don’t be afraid! You will know when you are ready.
Step 2: Outsource!
Back when I was starting out there wasn’t much opportunity to outsource things like RAW processing, retouching and album design. Each of these steps, when done well, take a huge chunk of time and concentration. Now, if you build it into your pricing structure, you can outsource most steps in your process and know that they are being handled by experts. Not only does this take a huge weight off of your shoulders, it leaves you with weekday quality time for your kids. It also frees you up to concentrate on the two key responsibilities of your business: photography and customer service. These are the parts that cannot and should not be outsourced. They are what set you apart from the crowd and drive your creativity, passion and overall business forward.
There are several services available to professional photographers today. The two that I trust and count on for my wedding business are:
- Lavalu: for RAW processing and retouching – they are friendly, fast and great to work with!
- Modern Album Design: for amazing album design – they have helped me to create an album that has generated over $1,200,000 in sales for me over the years… no joke!
Step 3: Build Relationships
With so many ways to connect with people online, you will find it easier than ever to build relationships in times that may fit a busy mom’s schedule… naptime, evening, weekends, etc. Building a business, and marketing yourself can seem overwhelming at times, but there are some simple things you can do that make a big impact.
- First, identify the vendors that service your client base (or desired client base).
- Second: look through your images to see what features their product, venue or service in a beautiful way.
- Third: reach out to those vendors and see if they would be interested in some images or marketing materials that showcase their work.
The truth is, most business owners are in the same position you are. They want high quality marketing pieces to show off their product, but they don’t want to break the bank with a huge marketing expense. How can you help theme achieve their goals? Why not ask?
- Country clubs: could they use some brochures to include in their sales packets that feature beautiful images of their property?
- Caterers: do they need images for their website or catering brochures?
- Musicians: images of the band or of guests dancing and having a great time would be a great addition to their website!
- Florists: a great detail shots always include the flowers. Ask if they would be interested in a postcard that features your photography and their flower creations.
- Dress shops: a beautiful brochure or postcard with images of brides in dresses from their shop will be greatly appreciated.
Always make sure to include your logo on a printed piece, or a copyright stamp in the image, to let people know where they can find you!
I hope that these ideas help you to turn your dreams into a reality! Wedding photography is such a fun, joyful and creative industry to be a part of! And it is a perfect fit for a creative and passionate photographer who wants to explore her future, while being completely in the present with her beautiful family.
Please let me know if I can answer any questions as you head off on your new adventures. I would love to hear how you make out!
Laura Novak, Delaware
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Laura has over 10 years of wedding photography experience, and her work has been featured on numerous national and international publications. Laura lives in Delaware with her husband, son, and two doggies.