“Okay, so I’ve got my gear. I’ve done my practice shoots on friends, families, pets, etc, but how do I actually go about landing my first wedding gig?”
I get asked this a lot. And a lot of industry professionals will recommend one of two things:
#1 – Email established photographers to see if you can be their second shooter (obviously for free – because experience is everything).
#2 – Go to every wedding you’re invited to, armed with your DSLR(s) and try to steal shots from the hired photographer on the day, to use in your own portfolio.
More on annoying / intrusive amateur photographers later, but for now; let’s just analyse the above listed strategies for a moment. Successful photographers are usually busy, and the last thing they want, is to be bombarded by random people offering to shadow them while they are working. Secondly, getting in the way of a professional at an acquaintance’s wedding is very disrespectful, both to the couple who invited you, and to the hired photographer, whose shots you might unwittingly photo-bomb as a result of your awkward positioning.
So they are basically red lights. Don’t go there. But then… how else would you get to shoot your first wedding? You want to hear the truth? This is how I did it.
I put what work I had onto a website, and just waited. I made sure that my photos were the best I could possibly produce at the time (even though they weren’t of weddings) and just patiently… waited. Then one day, I got an enquiry. It was from a friend – someone who knew that I worked as a photographer, albeit not in the wedding field; but who was rather camera shy, and preferred to have someone he knew shoot their wedding instead of a complete stranger. And that was it.
I didn’t go around begging. I didn’t flood my social media feeds with ineffectual posts like:
I just waited for my lucky break and stepped up to the plate when it was go time. Needless to say, it was daunting – to be the main photographer, in the first wedding I ever shot. But I don’t regret it at all. Because I learnt so much from it. There was no one else to defer to, so it was make or break; and weeks later, after the couple told me how thrilled they were with my photos, I breathed a sigh of relief and realized, “I’d survived my first wedding.”
So don’t give up. Your lucky break will come.
The question is: Will you be ready for it?