Becoming a highly skilled wedding photographer that couples want to immortalize their special day takes a lot of time and practice. Much like any other type of photography, you have to put in the hours if you want to be good enough to make money from it. However, practicing wedding photography can be a little trickier because how can you practice without a wedding or an actual client?
Here are some tips on how to practice wedding photography before you offer your services to paying customers:
1. Assist a professional
One of the best ways to hone your wedding photography skills is by assisting an experienced wedding photographer. Learning from a veteran can provide valuable insight into what the process is like at an actual wedding, particularly the best practices when it comes to shooting weddings and what mistakes to avoid when it’s your turn.
Find a professional wedding photographer that is willing to let you shadow them during a wedding. Observe their techniques and how they interact with clients. Take the opportunity to ask them for advice that you can use for your own shoots later on. You can even add that photographer to your network and form a good professional relationship with them in the future.
2. Ask to practice at someone’s wedding
If a friend, family member, colleague, or acquaintance is getting married soon, ask if you can practice your photography at their wedding. Most couples will usually have no problem with this especially since they already have a professional wedding photographer. You’re basically just going to act as an extra photographer doubling as a wedding guest if you’re invited.
But what if you’re not invited to the wedding? Ask anyway. Offer the photos for free in exchange for an invite (remember: every wedding guest adds a cost to their bill!) and explain that you want to practice so that you’ll be able to photograph professionally in the future
3. Stage a fake wedding
Round up some of your friends and assign two to pose as a bride and groom. Ideally, the couple should be a real-life married couple that can wear their wedding attire at the practice shoot. But if you can’t pull up friends or family members that have (or still fit into) their tuxes or gowns, buy some cheap attire at the thrift store.
Then, find a suitable venue, like a public park, a backyard, or a small chapel where you can stage your fake wedding. Set up some simple decorations to make the setting look like an actual wedding. Afterward, you can start shooting different events that would take place in a real wedding, like the walk down the aisle or the part where the newlyweds get into the bridal car. Apart from letting you practice, a fake wedding can be a fun activity for you and your friends.
4. Practice posing
Staging images with the bridal party is often one of the most time-consuming parts of shooting a wedding. Not everyone is good at posing or feels comfortable in front of the camera, so you would have to be good at telling people how to pose. That said, practice directing poses with a friend or a family member, preferably one that has a wedding dress. When you land your first gig as a wedding photographer, this skill can make a huge difference both in the ease of shooting and the resulting photos.
5. Watch videos
There’s so much content on photography on Youtube that it has become one of the main sources of information for both beginner and experienced photographers. Try watching videos on wedding photography to learn some tips and tricks from more experienced wedding photographers. If you don’t have a mentor, these videos are your next best source of information.
6. Look at other people’s photos
You already have your own style in other types of photography, but when you haven’t tried wedding photography before, where do you start?
Take a look at other photographers’ work or portfolio to get an idea of what style you want to emulate. Of course, you’re going to develop your unique style as you go along, but having some inspiration to base off on can help you with your first few shoots. You may even pick up some unusual techniques that can impress your very first clients.
Wedding photography is one of the most difficult types of photography to master. For one, you’re going to be photographing a lot of people, not just the bride and groom. Furthermore, there are a lot of moments that couples want to capture during their special day. So if you want to hone your skills before starting your business, these are the best strategies to follow.