Become a Wedding Photographer: Education and Career Info

Learn how to become a wedding photographer. Explore some of the educational and employment options that can help you start and build a career in professional wedding photography. View article »

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  • 0:00 Wedding Photographers
  • 0:42 Career Information
  • 1:28 Step 1: Get Training
  • 2:35 Step 2: Be an Assistant
  • 2:58 Step 3: Build a Portfolio

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Video Transcript

Wedding Photographers

Wedding photographers take photos of the ceremony, bride, groom, attendants and guests. They use computer software to edit photos, enhance images and create albums for clients. Wedding photographers have a great passion for the craft and an extensive knowledge about cameras and other technical equipment. Many photographers are self-employed, and securing work is competitive. The job often requires standing for long periods of time, traveling or carrying heavy equipment.

While a college degree is not required, aspiring wedding photographers can take courses or complete some formal training in photography and digital imaging. However, it's imperative that they acquire experience and build a professional portfolio.

Career Information

Degree Level None; coursework, certificate, and degree programs available
Degree Field Photography or digital imaging
Experience Working as an assistant or intern can help build a portfolio and network of potential clients
Key Skills Customer service skills, detail-oriented, creative, proficient in photo-editing software, knowledge of different types of cameras and settings
Salary $31,710 (2015 median for all photographers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In addition to knowledge of different types of cameras and settings, wedding photographers should also be customer service- and detail-oriented, creative and proficient in the use of photo-editing software. In May 2015, photographers in general earned a median annual salary of $31,710 as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Between 2014 and 2024 the BLS expects a 3%, or slower-than-average, growth in jobs for photographers overall. However, those who are self-employed may see a 9% increase in jobs during the same ten-year period. In this next section, we'll explore some of the educational and training options that can help you get started as a wedding photographer.

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Step 1: Get Training

Becoming a wedding photographer doesn't require a degree. However, it is important for photographers to understand the technical aspects of their cameras and equipment. Photography courses are available through Bachelor of Fine Arts, diploma and continuing education programs. Once enrolled, students can learn about black and white exposure, digital editing, light manipulation and color correction. They also find out how to use light meters, filters and lenses. While many programs focus on general photography, students can find courses that cover wedding photography methods and techniques. Topics may include candid and formal poses, ceremonies, sales techniques and location lighting.

Success Tips:

  • Take business courses. Wedding photographers often run their own companies. If an aspiring photographer decides to take courses or earn a degree, he or she should be sure to take classes in business, accounting and finance.
  • Become an intern. Some degree programs require internships. Participating in an internship helps future wedding photographers gain experience working with the different settings, shutter speeds and lenses found on professional cameras.

Step 2: Be an Assistant

Working as an assistant photographer is one way to acquire experience and develop a network of future clients. Once employed, novice photographers learn how to provide wedding day coverage, such as interacting with potentially stressed clients and capturing the details of a couple's special day. They also become familiar with managing a wedding photography business, finding new clients, determining prices and writing contracts.

Step 3: Build a Portfolio

A photography portfolio is the most important tool for showcasing your talent, personal style and expertise when meeting prospective clients. While studying photography in school or working as an assistant, aspiring wedding photographers should constantly add to and update the photos in their portfolios.

Success Tip:

  • Ask friends to model. Aspiring photographers might consider offering free services to friends and family in exchange for using their photographs in a portfolio. This could help the photographer enhance his or her book and build a client base at the same time.

Remember, degree, diploma or continuing education courses can help you acquire the training and skills you'll need to become a professional wedding photographer. Photographers in general earned a median salary of $31,710 a year in May 2015, according to the BLS.

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