Everything you’ve heard is true: wedding photography is an amazing gig! As a newbie/aspiring/up-and-coming wedding photographer, your head is probably spinning with manual mode settings while contemplating which new piece of gear to spend money on next. But before you click over to Amazon.com to drop some serious money a new “must-have” accessory, pause for a second. If you’re remotely serious about wedding photography as a potential part- or full-time career, consider investing your time and money in education instead. Because bodies come and bodies go, but solid shooting technique and good business sense will get you way further in this industry!
With the advent of Google, almost any general piece of information is readily available at your fingertips with just the right search terms. But for those who might want a more curated experience as well as guidance and inspiration from those who have come before, here are some structured resources to help you along your path:
Organizations & Conventions
If you were ever in the Boy or Girl Scouts, or just generally enjoy being a part of a very large organization, the PPA or WPPI might be for you. They both offer annual memberships that come with various benefits like equipment insurance or magazine subscriptions.
Also worth noting, both of these organizations host massive conferences every year:
- Imaging USA is taking place January 20 – 22, 2013 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Speakers and classes are plentiful along with an expo filled to the brim with products and services for photographers.
- The Wedding & Portrait Photography Conference+Expo is taking place between March 7 – 14, 2013 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, also offering a ton of speakers along with an expansive trade show.
Even if you’re not interested in attending the classes, the expo portion of these conferences will expose you to a mind-boggling amount of new stuff that you never even thought existed. Think of it is as Pinterest for photographers, in real life. If you’re unsure about which albums to offer your clients, for example, you’ll be able to run your hands on a bunch of sample albums and really see for yourself. Not only that, but a lot of print companies (e.g., WHCC, ProDPI) have a large number of sample products like cards and photo books. Seeing all of this in-person in one place sure beats getting samples made from each company, hoping their quality suits your business needs.
A popular forum that you should check out is the Digital Wedding Forum. Read, learn, and interact with the online community about gear, technique, and business. Just be sure not to get sucked into pointless debates, otherwise all of your time will dwindle away. There’s a membership fee to join, but you can get do a free trial first to see if it’s a good fit.
For those who enjoy meeting and interacting with folks in real life, Pictage’s PUGs and SmugMug’s SMUG are both worth checking out. You don’t have to be a member of either services to attend these free meetings. They are a great way to (1) learn things and (2) meet new friends and colleagues.
Creative Live is an online streaming classroom, offering various courses from running your business to shooting and editing techniques. Your options: watch the stream live for free (check out their calendar) or purchase the videos and watch at your leisure. Be sure to browse around the site and drop in on a live stream before committing to buying a video, to ensure you actually like the format and will benefit from it.
Like previously mentioned, there is a ton of information available out there, but hopefully this list helps provide you with a few specific launching pads to read, watch, learn, make friends, and create beautiful images for your clients while you start to build a successful business.
Finally, no list of wedding photography educational resources would be complete without mentioning the plethora of workshops and seminars available, but that lengthy topic will be discussed another day….