As a wedding photographer I often get asked about the best way to become a wedding photographer. Please know this post reflects my opinion and my opinion alone. I know people have started as wedding photographers in all different types of ways but this is the way that makes the most sense to me.
The number one thing you should do if you want to be a wedding photographer is to practice, practice, practice. A wedding should never be the place where you learn to use your equipment or learn about light. Grab friends, strangers, your dog, your stuffed animal, and practice. And when you’re done practicing, practice some more. Try to practice in different types of lighting. Wedding days are crazy and you will face pretty much any lighting situation that exists, so be prepared.
The second thing is to become familiar with the way weddings work. I know often times people ask their friends to shoot their weddings to gain experience but I honestly wouldn’t do it unless I have some previous experience with weddings. Ask other wedding photographers if you can second shoot for them, third shoot for them or even just carry their bags around on a wedding day. You will be so grateful you did! When I first got asked to shoot a wedding, I honestly freaked out. I had no experience with weddings! So I asked and asked until thankfully I got 4 photographers to take me as their second or third shooters before shooting my first wedding. That helped a ton!
One thing to avoid at all costs is to practice being a wedding photographer when you are a guest at a wedding. Be a guest, enjoy it! Seriously, the couple spent money so you would enjoy the day! Not only will you step on the photographer’s toes (maybe even literally) but you might ruin a shot that the hired photographer is trying to take. Trust me, you dont want to be the reason why the couple won’t be getting a photo of their first kiss. Not to mention you might be going against the photographer’s contract. It is not polite so please don’t do it! (ps. I am not against simply taking photos as a guest at a wedding. More on that next week).
And of course there’s the whole business side of things. Make sure you are doing things legally and you’re pricing yourself correctly!
I hope this helps a little.