Mistakes Make Magic

7 Things You Need to Know When Starting a Wedding Photography Business

7 things you need to know when starting a wedding photography business

December 14, 2022

I’m Catherine.
A New Orleans based wedding photographer and educator. We are excited you are here and cannot wait to connect with you!.
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7 things you need to know when starting a wedding photography business

If you’re here, you’ve either started a wedding photography business, or you’re considering starting one! And if you’re the latter, consider this a nudge in the right direction. 😉

After photographing weddings for almost 15 years, I can say it’s an incredibly rewarding career. It has truly changed my heart, and become a very profitable and sustainable business. It’s allowed me to work full time, buy our home, and do things I’ve always dreamed of doing. 
If you follow the steps necessary to become a full time wedding photographer, I know this can happen for you, too! But it’s important to start your business off on the right foot.

Don’t start your wedding photography business without considering these 7 things.

1. Decide What Type of Business You’ll Own

When your business is in the early stages, one of the first decisions you’ll make is what type of business you’ll be. Two types of businesses include:

  1. Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
  2. Sole Proprietorship

I encourage you to consult with an attorney to discuss the pros and cons of each, and decide which is right for you. 

I ultimately chose to become an LLC because it allowed me to separate my personal assets from my business assets. But of course, every person is different – talk to a professional to help you decide what type of business you will be. 💼

2. Open a Business Banking Account

Once you’ve decided what type of business you’ll be and you filed the paperwork, you’re then ready to open a business banking account! 🏦💵 

Why get a business banking account? The great thing about a business banking account is it very easily allows you to separate your business income and expenses from your personal income and expenses. 

This makes things super easy come tax time at the end of the year. You just categorize your expenses, total your deposits, and you’re good to go!
💸 Bonus tip: When you go to make purchases for your business, something you can do to make things easier is get a business debit or credit card. The credit card will help you establish credit for the business (of course, be sure to pay these off as soon as possible!).

3. Get a Camera with Dual Card Slots

One of the BIGGEST mistakes I made when I was starting my wedding photography business was photographing with a camera that had one card slot. 

There was one wedding where I put my card in the card reader after the wedding, and it kept saying the card was corrupt. Yikes! 😵‍💫

It was very nerve-wracking at the time, and not a position anyone wants to be in! I was eventually able to read the card on my card reader, but what if I wasn’t able to do that? It would’ve spelled disaster. 

Thankfully, the solution to this is simple: use a camera with dual card slots. 

We’re hired to document days that are irreplicable. They’re the most memorable, magical, and sentimental moments these couples will ever experience in their lives. 

So even if you can’t afford to buy it, it’s your responsibility to rent a camera with dual card slots to ensure you get those memories!

Additionally, if you ever leave your camera, be sure to take one of the cards with you. If you’re traveling, keep one of the cards in your pocket or in your car. Your clients are trusting you – so you can never be too careful!

4. Pursue Photography Part Time

If you’re in a position where you’re not yet financially ready to go full time, I would encourage you to pursue photography part time for now.

No one says you have to be full-time right away – and in fact, I wasn’t even full time at first! When I started my business, I was in college and working part time as a campus advisor and grad assistant. I was very busy building my business as a side hustle, and it took about 2 years before I built it full time. 

Even after that 2 year mark, when I went full time in the 3rd year, I still wasn’t able to sustain a strong income. Thankfully, I was in a cheap apartment and renting cameras, so I was able to make it work. 

Everyone’s journey is different, and it really is about the long game in business.
That being said, people generally say it takes 3-5 years to get to a place of financial stability in your business. I’d encourage you to have some other source of income in the beginning – and ideally, NOT a loan. The best route is to work another job while you photograph weddings because then, you’ll be starting your business without debt! 💸

5. Have a Strong Contract

I have an entire video dedicated to contracts and what they should say – they are THAT important! 

Your contract is designed to protect you and your client in the case of all “what ifs.” After the shutdown of the pandemic, I realized just how important being protected from the unexpected is.
If you need contracts, we sell lawyer-approved contracts for weddings and portraits (or both!) that protect your business. Do NOT do professional jobs and accept payment if you don’t have a contract in place.

6. Have a Strong Mindset 💪🏼

Having your own business – especially as an entrepreneur wedding photographer – requires a very strong mindset.

It’s going to take time to build your…

  • Clientele
  • Reputation
  • Organization

All good things take time. One day, you’ll be able to look back at the beginning and be in awe of all you’ve accomplished. But to get there, your mindset must be one of strength and endurance. 

Some days you’ll feel on top of the world, and others, you’ll feel like you can’t do anything right and you’ve made countless mistakes. But the truth is, mistakes are truly a learning effort. They’re the things that have to happen to allow for growth. That’s why I started my podcast, Mistakes Make Magic, years ago – to get that message out!

Believe you can do this, and know it will take time. ❤️

7. Have a Support System

Being an entrepreneur is NOT easy. Being a wedding photographer is DEFINITELY not easy.

I’ve missed friend’s birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, and more because I had to work. This was hard for me at first, but I decided early on that I was okay with missing out on some things to do what I love for a living. 

As you step into this career, know that it requires sacrifice, just like any job. But it’s worth it, and if you have a strong support system, it makes all the difference.

My husband, Brad, has been here from the beginning, even before he became my second photographer. He was even here to help when I recorded the video for this post, from charging the camera batteries to keeping me company as I set up the lights! That sort of support truly helps keep me going. 
If you are looking for a support system, the Wedding Photography Society is a place where wedding photographers can connect, support each other, and see that they’re not alone. I would love to have you join us!

Determine Your Base Price

One of the first things you’ll want to do when you’re starting a wedding photography business is nail down your base price – that’s the minimum amount you’ll charge for your services.

If you want to know HOW to do that, I have a free resource for you! I’ve created a Pricing Guide to help you charge exactly what prices are right for your photography business (and what prices will keep you profitable! 💸).

I created my Pricing Guide to help you: 

  • Understand the WHY behind your base prices 
  • Decide what to charge for your photography 
  • Cover your expenses to remain profitable and sustainable 

Check it out below ⤵️

Get the pricing guide!
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