Want to be a wedding photographer?

I get loads of correspondence from photographers looking to to get into wedding photography. I try to reply to all messages but often I don't have time to reply properly and my responses may seem a little short. So I thought that I would write a generic response. Wedding photography is great fun and a rewarding way to make a living - well it may look that way. The reality is somewhat different. It is fun but just do some basic maths and work out how many weddings you would need to do a year to earn a half decent wage. Then add a few costs to this equation maybe some camera gear, insurance etc and do the sum again. You will quickly realise that you are going to be doing a lot of weddings just to pay the bills. Not a problem I hear you say until you realise how many others out there have the same plan you are really going to have to fight to book those weddings. Anyway, if you are still reading I will assume I haven't put you off yet!!

So you may not want to do it full time, perhaps just to fund your hobby or to help out a friend. What do you need to photograph a wedding?

Obviously a good camera, a couple of fast lenses, a flash, plenty of memory cards and batteries. If only it were so simple - you do need this as a minimum and you also need back-ups of everything. Equipment breaks, fails, gets dropped - it happens, you need contingency. You can hire gear or borrow from a friend but you will need it.

OK so you have the gear - you now need to know how to use it, relying on your cameras auto functions will not get you through. As a wedding photographer you have to cope with extremes in fast moving circumstances. You will go from the dark of a Church to bright full August sunshine in a matter of seconds and you need to know what to do to ensure you are always ready for the shot. Talking of dark churches, try this little experiment. Get your camera, pull all of the binds or curtains in the room you are in and see how you get on. No, you can't use your flash - what would you do? This may seem like a stupid example but we are often in situations like this and have to get the pictures.

I could go on and on with difficult examples, dark is a problem but so is midday summer sun. Picture the scene, you are taking the big group shot of 100+ people, the hot, bright sun is overhead making everybody squint and you have a bride in a white dress. Are you confident you can nail the exposure and get the shot while everyone is looking at you .... no pressure :-)

So you are home from your first wedding - what do you do when the PC corrupts your memory card? What is your back up routine - where are you going to store all of these images? Just some other things to think through.

Photographically weddings are not a soft option - mess up a portrait shoot and you can do it again we don't get second chances

You are confident in your abilities and are looking for help to gain experience in wedding photography. There are more resources than ever before, join some Flickr groups - check out Creative Live, follow blogs of the respected photographers. Once you have done all of there are plenty of people out there who will be pleased to help you .... But and it is a big but - you need to demonstrate that you have reached a certain level or at least doing something to get there. Doing something like 100 strangers, a 50/50 or a 365 project also demonstrates commitment and shows that nothing is going to stop you taking pictures.

If you contact me or other photographers we want you to be able to show us your recent work - it doesn't matter if it is on a blog or Flickr or even Facebook. It also helps if you know a little about the photographer you are contacting. Stand out from the crowd - show us why you are different and people will help.