So You Want To Be A Wedding Photographer..?
…in the UK?
…then expect to get wet from time to time.
I almost choked on my breakfast recently when I read about a company offering wedding photography workshops (at more than £100 a pop) who cancelled their workshop because of – a bad weather report. How I chuckled.
After photographing hundreds of weddings in the UK, one thing I think you can safely say is that the weather cannot be relied upon to be photographer-friendly. Far from it. In fact, I had a season once (not long ago) where it rained at about two in three of the weddings I shot.
If anything I’d day that the most useful thing you could be taught on a wedding photography course would be: what to do in case of bad weather.
Often, of course, wedding photography courses are more about building a portfolio of sample photographs than actually learning anything new about the art and business of photographing weddings. This is increasingly how photographers start off, but I remember many years ago, seeing a photographer coming in to see the boss (who shall remain nameless) at the studio I was working for and showing him an album made up entirely of “fake” wedding shots – two models doing their level best to pretend they hadn’t just met only an hour before and were actually head over heels and embarking on their new life together (even though they would clearly never have been drawn to each other in real life). Predictably, the boss immediately spotted this and asked the photographer, “So how do I know you can photograph a real wedding?”. These “dude weddings” fool no-one.
A good wedding photography course should, in my opinion, include: marketing, sales, legal considerations, work-flow, insurance, and definitely – planning for contingencies such as bad weather etc. An accomplished wedding photographer might be disappointed by bad weather but certainly wouldn’t be fazed by it. This is when a good photographer proves himself. This is when true creativity comes through.
Anyone can shoot the weddings of handsome couples on dry, bright days in beautiful locations, but the reality of wedding photography for 90% of photographers is that you will often find yourself shooting on dull rainy days outside grubby pubs, churches with no grounds, and grey, brutalist, municipal registry offices. And the real skill comes in making all of your clients feel as though its the best wedding day ever.
It almost goes without saying that the person leading the course should be very experienced and successful in the field. Ask them how long they have been in this side of the business. On that note, I’ll take this opportunity to name-check my friend and occasional colleague Paul Spiers (www.photographymarketing.co.uk), a very successful wedding photographer who ran an excellent wedding photography course that I attended a couple of years ago. Everything was covered and even the attendees who were already very busy wedding photographers in their own right left feeling they had learnt a lot.
Choose your wedding photography course with care.