Wedding Photography

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Wedding Photographer?

Wedding photography is joyful beyond description! It’s all the rage in the realm of digital photography, and you can turn a pretty penny as well! But professional wedding photography isn’t for everyone. 

Personal Requirements for a Photographer

  • Artistic flair
  • Eye for detail
  • Able to learn the technical aspects of photography
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to take initiative
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Interest in contemporary styles and trends in graphics, architecture, and fashion is an advantage

Education & Training for a Photographer

You can work as a photographer without formal qualifications. 

You will probably get some informal training on the job. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications and you may like to consider a course. Applicants may be required to submit a folio of work and attend an interview. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a photographer by completing a degree in photography or photo media. To get into these courses, you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in English. Applicants may be required to submit a folio of work and attend an interview. Access to a suitable camera is also required. Photography courses usually have high materials costs, and entry is highly competitive. Institutions have different prerequisites, and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. Looking for the Best Photographers in Melbourne? We have compiled an exclusive list of some of Melbourne’s best photographers to capture your special day.

What Does a Photographer Do?

Photographers take pictures of people, landscapes, or things. There are several different areas you could be working in as a photographer:

  • Press and PR photographer – taking news pictures of people and events as they happen.
  • Wedding or event photographer – taking pictures of weddings and other events.
  • Portrait photographer – taking pictures of people.
  • Landscape photographer – taking pictures of landscapes.
  • Art photographer – taking artistic images of people, places, or things.
  • Product photographer – taking pictures of items that are for sale. 

What Do I Need to Do to Become a Photographer?

Wedding Photography

You do not need any formal qualifications to become a photographer, but a good eye, creativity, and technical ability are essential. You can study courses at college or university to gain photography skills. Most professional photographers have taken a college or university course to develop their skills. 

Alternatively, you could do a level 3 vocational course in art and design or photography – check with universities. 

Related Skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Business management
  • Communication
  • Creativity

Interpersonal Skills

  • IT
  • Organization
  • Patience
  • Technical ability
  • Time management

Academic Route

Levels including one in art, design, or media

Vocational Route

Level 3 course in art and design, or photography

Related Subjects

Art

Computer science

Design technology

Media studies

Essential qualifications

Artistic portfolio

Desirable qualifications

Photography degree

Where Could I Be Working?

You could be working inside at a studio or outside in the field, depending on the type of photography you are doing. You could be self-employed or working for an agency or news organization. You’ll often need to have your photographic equipment wherever you work – this can cost a considerable amount of money. 

What Education Do I Need to Be a Wedding Photographer?

While there are no formal education requirements for wedding photographers, postsecondary training can be helpful and valuable. 

To become a wedding photographer, you must obtain basic photography skills and learn how to take professional photographs that are in focus and capture a moment. Most photographers start by learning photography and technical skills through practice. While formal education is not a requirement to work in the field, it can be helpful.

Common Courses

Basic Black and White Photography, Intro to Digital Photography, History of Photography

Degrees/certificates

Associate’s degree, a certificate in photography

Online Availability

Fully and partially online courses

Possible Careers

Photojournalist, Travel Photographer, Wedding Photographer

Formal Education

While not prominent in schools across the country, you may find some programs that focus solely on wedding photography. Certificate or associate’s degree programs in photography may offer wedding photography courses that can help you prepare for your career. Plans in digital photography or commercial photography may also include classes involving this specialty.

You’ll learn about the fundamentals of digital photography, lighting, editing programs, portraits, location shoots, and darkroom procedures in a photography program. Many programs offer special courses in the basics of shooting a wedding. Programs may also provide classes in black and white photography and basic business principles. Most programs will help you to develop a professional portfolio, and some may offer internship opportunities.

Training Opportunities

Wedding Photography

In some cases, you may get your training as an assistant to a professional photographer. It is common for photographers to start as assistants to gain the required technical and creative skills to work in the field. The BLS also suggests gaining experience by joining photography clubs and organizations, working for photography-related businesses, and networking with others in the area.

Acting as an assistant may help maintain equipment and ensure the right gear makes it to a shoot. You may help organize and pose subjects. After the photoshoot, you may assist with developing the photos. As part of working as an assistant, you are exposed to a photography business’s inner workings. This may include learning how to book shoots, determining what to charge, and maintaining a professional studio.

Things You Should Know If You Want to Be a Professional Wedding Photographer

What Is a Professional Photographer? 

The Washington Post, an internationally renowned newspaper, defines a professional photographer as “anyone who earns more than 50 percent of his or her annual income from photography.” Anyone who earns less than this would technically be considered an amateur.

That said, many professional photographers might not meet this definition. For example, perhaps a trained and skilled photographer donates a great deal of his or her time to worthy causes – they may only earn 40% of their income from photography. Still, they are certainly a professional in the industry.

Similarly, the definition above also leaves out someone who spends a lot of their working hours (and earns a lot of their income) editing, retouching, or developing other photographers’ photos.

The positive aspects of this definition? It makes the pool of people who can claim to be a ‘professional photographer’ very narrow, preventing hobbyists and newcomers from falsely advertising their skill level. Very few people can call themselves ‘professional photographers,’ which is undoubtedly a good thing for other photographers and consumers.

What Does a Professional Photographer Do?

A typical day in the life of a professional photographer? It simply doesn’t exist! On any given day, a professional photographer might be donning a scuba tank to dive into a reef, sailing above the clouds in a prop plane to capture vast landscapes, or inside an operating theatre snapping photos for a medical textbook.

The essential part of any professional photographer’s daily tasks is their time liaising with their client. Unless you create images for your portfolio or an acceptable art purpose, you will likely always have a client with specific opinions and ideas about how you should work.

While you will undoubtedly allow your flair and creativity to shine through (after all, that is why they chose you over your competition), you will also need to be mindful about what they want from your work. Once you have met with the client and had them sign a contract, you will spend anywhere from a few hours to a few months tackling the project for them.

Once the photos have been taken, a whole other facet of the work must be undertaken, including touching up and editing the images on the computer, changing colors, lighting, and ‘cleaning them up.’ Once your client has approved these edits, you will need to physically develop your pictures and present them to your client in the agreed-upon format.

Remember, you will also need to spend time promoting yourself and your services, including maintaining a website and social media profiles, attending trade shows, advertising, and meeting with potential clients.

Know Your Gear. 

We hate even to include this on this list, because it’s a given. However, it bears repeating and repeating (and repeating). If you plan to represent yourself as a professional, you need to understand your gear. This may sound contradictory if you’ve read my post, Photographing Your Best Friend’s Wedding, so allow me to clarify. There is a significant difference between representing yourself as a professional VS setting clearly defined expectations and letting a friend or family member hire you with eyes WIDE open to your inexperience level. If you’re going to market yourself as a professional, you’ve got to know your gear up, down, and side to side.

If you don’t know your gear YET, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn! If professional wedding (or portrait, journalism, travel, or commercial) photography is your goal, go for it! I don’t care who you are or where you come from; your dream can become your reality if you are willing to WORK for it!

Wedding Photography Is Collaborative.

Remember, wedding photography is a collaborative effort between the photographer, the bride and groom, the planner, the parents, the guests, other vendors, and more! You’ve got to understand this foundational information if you’re going to be successful. I’ll elaborate throughout the points below, but take this wisdom and let it sink into your core. It is essential to your success. Here at Boutique Events Group, we have compiled an exclusive list of Melbourne Wedding Photographers to help capture your special day

Know Who You Work For.

You’ve got to know who you work for. Do you work for the bride? Do you work for her mother? Do you work for a planner? You’ve got to clearly understand (and articulate your understanding) all the parties involved in the event. Generally speaking, at the end of the day, even if the referral came from a planner, you work for the bride, and SHE is the one you’re aiming to please. Meet her every need with your whole soul; she deserves it. It’s her big day. Additionally, she’s the one signing your check. It pays to make her happy (pun unintended, but welcomed nonetheless).

Remember: Wedding Photography Is Relationship-Based.

Wedding photography is relationship-based—referral-based. You’ve got to overdeliver at every single event. This goes for delivery of self (more on that to come), images, correspondence, and final products. You hold the holy grail for these people: IMAGES! You are documenting their memories for a lifetime, and in terms of vendors, you are helping build their professional portfolio.

Share, give, collaborate, always.

Note: Above, I mentioned knowing who you work for. Please don’t mistake me to mean that you shouldn’t respect, revere, and do your very best to accommodate a planner. They take on the lion’s share of the work involved in the wedding day. They’ve been working for months and months (sometimes a year or LONGER) putting all these beautiful details together. Offer them the respect they deserve. They are lovely people (and have the potential to be excellent resources to you as your progress as a photographer).

Take Care of Yourself.

Wedding photography is a collaborative effort. You’ve got to show up at your BEST—mentally, emotionally, physically, and creatively. Make sure you’ve prepared the most crucial piece of gear you own: YOU! 

Show up as the best version of yourself, ready to work HARD, focus fiercely, and listen carefully to ensure you completely anticipate your client’s needs.

Be Prepared for the Time Commitment.

Wedding photography requires an astronomical amount of work. Yes, I know your mind flows directly to editing, and yes, that can be highly time-consuming, but I’m not referring only to post-production. I’m referencing the booking process, the email correspondence, facilitating questions, managing expectations, shooting, editing, providing images, and other products. You’re committing to being completely accessible to your client for MONTHS leading up to the event and months after the big day. Make sure you don’t over-commit and thus find yourself less available to your clients. Remember, this industry is relationship-based. The better care you take of your current clients, the more likely they are to refer you to their friends. I equate more than 80% of my business to past client referrals. That’s pretty darn significant. Wouldn’t you say?

You’ve Got to Work to Define Your Style.

Part of setting clearly defined expectations for your clients and collaborating effectively is for you to have a clearly defined style—a clearly defined artistic voice. Heaven knows that this is an organic process and that you will constantly refine and re-refine yourself artistically. However, your clients need to have clear expectations as to what they will receive from you. If you want to achieve consistent bookings from enthusiastic clients, who are willing to pay you fairly, you’ve got to present yourself to them consistently and effectively.

If you don’t do the work necessary to refine your style, this industry will soon become filled with a million “minis.” Minis are watered-down versions of other photographers. This industry does not need a zillion photographers simply regurgitating each other’s work. This industry needs YOUR creative voice, YOUR unique vision. Refining your style lends itself to better clients—clients who you resonate with because they have hired YOU because you’re YOU! They love your unique style and want to work with you. You become a scarce commodity rather than just another photographer, and while this isn’t the motivating end in mind, the truth of the matter is that it does make you worth more money. Yay!

It’s Not Always as Glamorous as it Seems.

Be prepared to WORK. Hard. It’s not all glamor and glitz. You’ve got to give your absolute ALL, to every single client, at every single wedding you shoot, ALWAYS. Don’t get jaded. Don’t lose your creative edge. Fight to stay in your best creative space (by caring for yourself, as mentioned above). Each client deserves the VERY BEST you have to give—without exception!

Don’t Be Discouraged by Rejection.

You’re not going to book every single client who sends you an inquiry. Get used to hearing “no.” It’s not an indication of your talent or lack thereof. Not every client is “your client.” Remember, you’re not looking for every single client the world over; you want to find the RIGHT clients for you. The clients that you can really connect with and thus COLLABORATE with effectively toward your very best work. Remembering this, that you’re not looking for every client, just the right ones—helps you keep your head on your shoulders when you are inevitably turned down from time to time.

Note: If you ARE booking every client that comes your way, that’s a clear indication that it’s time to raise your prices! You should only be booked approximately 50% of the inquiries that come your way.

Enjoy Every Minute of It!

You’re living a dream! Photographing weddings is such a joyful experience! Yes, it’s tough, yes it’s WORK, but it’s entirely and fulfilling as well. It’s worth any sacrifices it requires to be an integral part of such a significant time in someone’s life. Every day, my clients remind me how to love. Completely. Who could ask for anything more?!

Conclusion

If you consider a career in photography, you are about to enter into a fascinating, exciting, and constantly challenging world. By utilizing some of the information listed above, your transition into your new career will be easier – and more profitable – than you ever imagined. At Boutique Events Group, we have compiled a list of the Best Photographers in Melbourne to help you choose who captures your magical day.

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