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Wedding Photographer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Wedding photographers do not have any specific formal education requirements. Learn about the necessary skills, job duties and equipment requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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No formal education is required to be a wedding photographer; however, photographers need to understand how to use photographic equipment and set up shots to ensure quality images. A degree or courses in photography may help photographers attract clients and employers.

Essential Information

Wedding photographers work with couples to capture special moments on their wedding day. Although no formal education is required, aspiring wedding photographers may want to complete a postsecondary program in photography, since this competitive field requires workers to be both creative and technically proficient.

Required Education No formal education requirements; completion of a degree program in photography may be beneficial
Other Requirements Creativity and technical camera abilities essential; possession of photography equipment and strong business skills required for self-employed wedding photographers
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% for all photographers
Median Salary (2015)* $31,710 for all photographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wedding Photographer Job Description

Falling under the broader category of photographers, wedding photographers most often work on location taking photographs of wedding events on a contractual basis. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 60% of photographers were self-employed as of 2015. Photographers earned a median salary of $31,710 per year as of May 2015. The number of employed photographers was expected to grow only 3% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than average.

Wedding Photographer Job Duties

In addition to taking photographs before, during and after wedding festivities, wedding photographers are also responsible for artistically composing the shots and processing the images, often on their own equipment. Wedding photographers must assess customer expectations, usually by discussing their wedding photo needs before the big event. On the wedding day, photographers must capture high quality images in an environment that is often hectic.

Self-employed wedding photographers must also run their own businesses by preparing contracts, drumming up business and staying abreast of the latest industry trends. Photo editing, developing and delivery comprise a large part of the wedding photographer's job duties.

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Wedding Photographer Job Requirements

Educational Requirements

Employers usually place more emphasis on creative and technical abilities than formal education when hiring wedding photographers, according to the BLS. However, there are associate's, bachelor's and even master's degree programs in photography that can give wedding photographers both experience and skills in how to apply various photographic styles, use different lighting techniques and develop business acumen. Wedding photographers must also have an advanced understanding of digital and traditional camera mechanics, such as exposure, focus and different shutter speeds.

Equipment Requirements

Self-employed wedding photographers must have the appropriate photography equipment, including cameras, lenses, mounts, specialized lighting apparatuses and editing software. Full service websites can help independent contractors find new clients through sample galleries and provide an easy way for clients to access their photos. Photo editing software is a must, and these programs can be complex, which is another reason why formal education can be beneficial to a wedding photographer.

Business Requirements

A basic understanding of business finance, marketing, pricing, copyright laws and contracts is necessary for freelance wedding photographers. Without copyright protection, a photographer's work might not be safe. Interpersonal skills are also very important for wedding photographers, who must interact with couples and their families during a stressful time. Much of the wedding photographer's editing work may be done at home, so an appropriate office setting with current technology is usually necessary.

From 2014-2024 the job growth for all photographers is expected to be slower than average when compared to all occupations, per the BLS. In 2015 the BLS reported that 3 in 5 photographers are self employed, which means that most people entering this field need to be creative and talented in photography, and also able to manage their own business.

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