June 9, 2023

Essential Skills You Need to be a Successful Wedding Photographer

When you’re in the wedding photography industry, you are more than just a photographer – you are also a business owner, project and relationship manager, book-keeper, and advertiser (plus much more, as we all know)! We wear many hats, and it takes a lot of moving parts to make our businesses run smoothly. So what skills do we need to possess to make all of those different hats fit our heads? How can we best ready ourselves for the growing size, optimization, and scope of our businesses?

As a wedding photographer with approximately 15 years in the industry, I’ve gotten to know the ins and outs pretty well – and that’s what I’ll be getting into in this week’s YouTube video!

1. Photography Skills

Okay, this one seems like a given – but it’s of course one of the most important! You should have a strong understanding of technical aspects of photography, including lighting, composition, exposure, and image editing.

Even if you’re just starting out and haven’t shot your first wedding yet, focusing on expanding and improving your photography skillset is one of the best things you can do for yourself. People want to hire people that they trust – and the way to show the world they can trust your skills is to give them proof! Build your portfolio by second-shooting, working with other photographers, and attending styled events.

If you’re an experienced photographer already, never stop putting effort into learning, growing, and investing time into the expansion of your skillset, even if it feels difficult to justify the time. It can be easy to get caught up in the back-end of running your business. Take some time every now and then to get back to basics and invest in yourself.

2. People Skills

As a wedding photographer, you’ll be working with people from different backgrounds and personalities. You should be able to communicate effectively with your clients, make them feel comfortable in front of the camera, and work well with other vendors and guests.

Having good communication skills is what differentiates a good client experience from a great client experience. It’s those clients who have that great experience with you who are going to leave good reviews and contribute to the positive social proof and trust you’re looking to build in your business. There’s a fine line between being laid back and not engaging enough; assertive and interjecting too much; thorough and overbearing – it’s really important to understand where those lines are and how to avoid crossing them!

There are a few different ways to go about improving those people skills. Learning from others is one way to do that! We have a membership called the Wedding Photography Society, where we meet up and talk about these kinds of things and bring other wedding photography professionals on as guests to give their two cents as well. You can also learn on your own through trial and error and making mistakes – that’s what Mistakes Make Magic is all about, after all!

It’s not only verbal communication that’s important, but also written communication! It’s vital that the agreement between yourself and your client is clear, truly understood, and accepted – not only for the sake of your client, but for the sake of protecting your business! I have a whole video on how to communicate through contracts here.

3. Time Management

Wedding days can be chaotic and fast-paced, so you should be able to manage your time effectively to capture all the important moments while keeping to the schedule.

The most important trait that wedding planners look for when referring photographers is the ability to stay on track with a schedule! A wedding day is already action-packed and a little stressful for everybody involved. As a wedding photographer, it’s so important that you make it a goal to never add to that stress or hold the timeline back, but to instead flow with the timeline!

Not to mention, time management is also an imperative skill to have when it comes to being efficient in your business!

4. Adaptability

Weddings can be unpredictable, and you should be able to adapt to changing conditions and be ready to handle unexpected situations that may arise. Wedding days have a lot of moving parts, and sometimes things just go wrong! 

I once shot a wedding where the bride got sick and had to be transported to the hospital. Of course the priority in this case was the wellbeing and health of the bride, but she wanted to power through and continue on with her special day – the show must go on! I rode along to the hospital and captured her beauty, love, and happiness with family members all around, and made sure to not miss any moments that she’d want to look back on when flipping through her wedding photo book 10 years from now. Luckily, she was able to feel better and make it back to the reception where she was welcomed back by all of the happy guests!

Even if a situation arises that wouldn’t involve you as the photographer, let it be known that you’re there to help out. Maybe the band doesn’t show up, or maybe somebody is having a hard time. Be there! It will be remembered.

5. Attention to Detail

Paying attention to details is essential to creating high-quality photographs. You should be detail-oriented and able to capture the little moments that make each wedding unique.

This doesn’t just mean being observant about what’s happening around you and being able to stick to a schedule. It’s extremely important, especially in the luxury wedding space, to be in tune with all of the components in every image you’re photographing. This comes into play too when you’re capturing the works of other vendors and even the planner – for example, taking photos of the floral arrangements, place settings, lights, chairs and tables, etc. By making your photos look pristine and professional, you make the vendors’ work look pristine and professional as well – and vice versa!!

Make sure every detail is right in place. Just developing the skill of seeing things is something that’s very important to practice. Is something out of line? Is the client’s hair a little bit messed up? Are there people in the background? Try asking yourself these questions during your next session!

6. Creativity

Creativity is an essential skill for a successful wedding photographer. You should be able to think outside the box and create unique and memorable images that stand out from the crowd.

Developing a sense of your own artistic style will help you to lean into your craft and establish a recognizable flair of your own – one that will make people say, “Oh that’s Catherine Guidry’s work! I want her!”

7. Business Skills

As a wedding photographer, you will need to manage your business, including marketing, bookkeeping, and client management. You should have strong business skills to ensure that your business runs smoothly and profitably.

Do the best you can to learn which things are most important to your business to remain professional. Even though photography is a creative and fun profession, sound business practices are what will continue to propel your business forward and allow you to continue on with the fun creative part!

Grab the FREE Pricing Guide

Before you follow these steps to share pricing with clients, you need to be confident in what you’re charging!

Do you know why you’re charging what you’re charging? Do you know if it’s enough to keep you profitable? I have a free resource that will help you figure it out! 

Grab my free Pricing Guide to help you: 

  • Understand the WHY behind your base prices so you feel more confident in pricing
  • Decide WHAT to charge for your photography 
  • Cover your expenses so you remain profitable and sustainable 

Check it out below ⤵️

Get the pricing guide!