One of the greatest joys in my life is giving. I love people. Giving and people just go well together.
I mentor quite a few photographers in between shooting weddings. It really is where my heart is the happiest. Taking something so big that it feels near impossible, such as a business, and breaking it down into small pieces and putting together in an organized way that is successful and plentiful. Seeing my mentees grow in photography, becoming business savvy, learn to market and becoming overall MORE awesome is one of the greatest rewards in my life. We grow together. We problem solve. We laugh and we become friends for life. Jessica Rambo is one of those special people. It all started over a conversation at brunch. She was starting from the bottom. “I want to be a photograher”. I am so proud of her and the great strides she has taken. YOU GO GIRL! She is now dishing on how to break into the wedding photography industry with a few helpful tips. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us! Continued success your way always…
JESSICA RAMBO PHOTOGRAPHY
5 Tips for Breaking into the Wedding Photography Industry
1. Starter Gear
When I first started photography, I had nothing more than an entry level camera, a basic kit lens, and a 50mm 1.8 to my name. Basic. Simple. It got the job done. Which at the time was not weddings, but as soon as I started assisting at weddings, I realized my work went from good to blah, all because my ISO didn’t go high enough for those dark receptions, and I had no concept of how to work an external flash.
Invest in off-camera flashes and a variety of lenses. If you can’t buy a lens or a flash, you can rent! Renting has been a HUGE part of what I do. Plus, most places offer a weekend rental fee. ;) It’s perfect if you are that photographer like me whose lens collection is minimal, and cannot afford that expensive lens you’ve been drooling over.
2. Find Mentor
This one is super important, so I hope you’re reading. Find a mentor, or in my case a mentor-friendship. A relationship like this will only prove to strengthen you, and build you as an artist. The definition of a mentor means: an experienced and trusted adviser. Since knowing my mentor I have grown SO much, I’m not the same photographer I was. I have a lot to be grateful for in life, and having a friend who is experienced in the same industry as I, teach me, walk with me, and advise me when I seek advice is a true blessing.
3. Shoot for Free/ Assist
I mentioned this earlier. When I first started out I tagged along at weddings, assisted, and photographed weddings for free. In order to build your portfolio to book your own weddings, it was one of the first things to do. Like I had said, my camera when I started out was not amazing. It was as basic, as basic can get, but what I learned at each wedding I assisted at was to make good with whatever camera you DO have. If you have a basic camera, learn how to use it inside and out, and know your settings. Another benefit to assisting, is it’s a great way to build photographer relationships and get your name out there! As you get better, the photographer’s you have once assisted may ask you to second shoot a wedding, or at least refer you to others. Go into these situations with a servant’s heart and be willing to hold bags, grab things, and be willing to do whatever it takes to make the lead photographer’s day better.
4. Styled Shoots
This is something that I LOVE to do! Styled Shoots are when a photographer (or two, maybe more,) get together to do just what the name says- Style a shoot. The vendors you contact would vary depending on what you decide to shoot. But to stay on track. We’re going to talk about styling weddings. So much fun, and so much planning. A lot of work goes into a good styled shoot, but just imagine what it creates- contact, and communication with a wedding vendor who now knows your name, and the style of work you create, and can show off the amazing photos you took! Putting your name out there. Your vendors can range to as many or as little as you want. A more detailed styled shoot may require more vendors. When I look for vendors for styled weddings, I’m looking for florists, cake and invitation designers, and maybe even a bridal shop. Most importantly, I’m looking for these type of vendors who fit in my style I want to represent, or the theme that I’m going with and hope to continue a working relationship together. Styled Shoots allow photographers to have free range with creativity.
5. 2nd Shooting Gigs
Second shooting is when you get hired by another photographer to help shoot a full or half wedding day. You capture emotion, the full room, and second angles. Anything the lead photographer cannot get in time, you’re there to make sure it’s been covered. The beauty of this, is that similar to assisting, you are building your wedding portfolio. Only you actually get paid to do so. The more you second shoot for a photographer, the more you’re putting your name out there. Notice a trend? In order to become that wedding photographer you want to be, you have to put your name out there- people need to know you. Your name should be passed from photographer to photographer because of the great work you did second shooting that wedding last weekend. You are also honing in on your skill to perform in any situation. Natural lighting, posing, time limits and off camera flash. But don’t forget that it’s not your wedding, and you should be available to help the lead photographer whenever he or she needs. Being helpful, quick on your feet, and tactful will better your chances of working with that other person in the future, and any other future photographer.
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