Starting a Wedding Photography Business


Creating a successful wedding photography business can be more of a challenge than one would think. Just because you can take a picture doesn’t mean that starting your own wedding photography business will be smooth sailing. However there are certain building blocks one can take that will assist in creating yourself a successful start to your wedding photography business. First and most important building block is to build an efficient and thorough business/creative plan. This is the foundation and should include your objectives, your mission, and your keys to success.

Your foundation objectives will cover what it takes to produce the same outstanding quality results time after time, and what it will take to become recognized as a top wedding photographer. You mission should describe what you want to achieve and how you are going to do that. Your keys to success should include how you will fulfill your client’s expectations and how you will accomplish this. How will you be competitive with your services offered? What kind of profits do you need to become successful competition?

Before you start you’re first step is to find your identity. Have you figured it out? Be true to yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses as a photographer. Are you ready to start this financially and technically? Do you know your style and identity, and do you do it well? You should know how to describe your photography and vision. Are you more of a photo journalistic photographer who relies on natural available light and candid moments? Do you pre-plan and pose portraits and incorporate technical lighting skills giving a classic look. Or, do you mix it up with both, showing a full range of capabilities that give you your own modern contemporary style?

If you know what you want your photography and identity to look like but haven’t achieved the look yet, maybe you need more work on your photography before you can establish your business.

Take a look at your photography and decide what level of talent you have and what potential you possess. Be critical of your work, but also have others critique your work for you. Learn how to use constructive criticism to improve your photography. If your identity isn’t where you want it, ask yourself, what needs to be improved? Do you know your equipment (camera, lighting, etc) well enough? Do you know how to read and meter your exposures? Do you have the right equipment, i.e.: hi resolution digital camera and Photoshop? You need a digital camera to stay up with your competition. It is also of great importance to be proficient in Photoshop and Lightroom and your digital workflow. It is up to you to overcome any weakness with proper education and practice before you take on photographing a wedding.

Photographing a wedding is a big responsibility. Someone has paid a large amount of money and trust in you to document this special and personal day. This is why it is so important to be confident enough to step into any wedding that comes your way and do a solid job photographing it. Having your skills fine-tuned are just part of what it takes to build that foundation of confidence. The other huge part to building confidence is experience.

We all start out somewhere. So once you have your photography skills and workflow down, it is now time to test yourself and your identity. The first step is to know your value. Do you think you’re up to shooting a wedding solo for $2000.00? Wait, you don’t have any wedding pictures for a portfolio. How are you going to sell yourself as a wedding photographer? Well either you get lucky with someone who trusts and likes your photography regardless that you have never photographed a wedding. Or you decide to build your portfolio through being a second or third shooter for a more established wedding photographer. This is a great way to get exposure and experience in the wedding photography scene. A great way to approach this route is to call all of the local wedding photographers in your area and ask if anyone is in need of a second or third shooter. Once you find some work ask questions and pay close attention to how they run their business and how they photograph weddings. Everyone has a system. How they shoot the wedding ceremony, portraits, reception, etc. Use this position to your advantage and build relationships within the wedding industry. The more you learn, the faster you will be on your way to becoming competition. Remember to save money for when you make your transition out on your own.

Once you have some weddings under your belt your confidence will lead you at the right time to separate and become that competition that you have been working for. When you do choose, it should be all or nothing. Either stay on as a second shooter or take the risk and become competition.

After you have taken the jump into the unknown and exciting world of being your own boss. Your confidence as a photographer has grown and you now possess an identity as a wedding photographer. You can now start your wedding photography business wherever and whenever.

Hopefully you have invested in your own digital camera, backup camera, lenses, computer, Photoshop, etc. Your investment needs to have insurance. You cannot afford to have it stolen or broken; otherwise all your hard work will be for nothing. Also you should have liability insurance to C.Y.A. You can get photographers insurance through PPA.

Before you place yourself as competition in the wedding photography market you should know your competition. They are your best models to help get started. Take notice of what they charge for packages and what they include with their services. Where and how do they advertise? What niche do they fill and where can you fit in as a new business.

To establish your business you need an address. You can choose a PO Box or another mailbox service such as Mail Boxes ETC. I prefer MBE because you can choose a mailbox with a real street address. Not to mention they have many other services. Next get a separate phone number for your business. To legitimately create your business you should either have a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a sole proprietorship. You can learn about this through an accountant or through websites like legalzoom.

With the rest of the money you saved you will have to determine how much is to be used for marketing and other expenses. Marketing is going to be the most essential thing for your business to get off the ground. Without marketing you don’t have a business. Your marketing essentials are: to have your identity, your portfolio, and your line of communication.

Through the image library that you have created, pick your best images to use for your portfolio, website and all promotional and marketing materials. Your portfolio can be made w/ inkjet prints that you put in an album of choice such as albums provided by Topflight, photoalbumshop, or you can choose to have one printed by Asuka albums, or other online print labs such as Snapfish or Shutterfly. Your image identity is now established, and will grow over time. However you now need your business identity. What will your promotional materials look like? What font will you use? What colors will be incorporated? Will you use a logo? It may be a good idea to find a graphic designer to help you out with this. Once you figure out your business identity and incorporate it with your promotional materials you should create and print them all at once to distribute them all year. Make sure you have the basics like your business cards, postcards, brochure, contract, 8×10’s and any other promotional materials you can think of. These materials can be ordered through gotprint.com and vistaprint.com.

After your promotional materials are finished and the portfolio is printed, you are ready to create your website. View other sites to get an idea of what style of site you want and how it will look. Search for someone else to create a website for you if you aren’t educated in web development but having a professional do this can get a bit pricey. Some great alternatives are to use Craigslist or look into finding a student at a local college to do it. Make sure you work with your web developer in creating your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for the site. This is most important and is the best way to insure that you can create a web presence that is optimized for search engines. The template DIY websites don’t work well for SEO. SEO will concentrate on key wording, alt tags, one-way links, and proper site submissions.

You now have a business ready to start seeing some return. People are ready to see your business and it’s your job to reach out and find them. It is your job to know your market and tap it with your presence. I suggest that it is priority to get a creative ad on Craigslist. Why not it’s free? Now that you have all of your promotional materials printed out, where are you going to distribute them? Research all local, state, or nationwide wedding industry businesses, and create a directory of them for your advertising. Create your promotional packets with cover letter, brochure, postcards, and a mini portfolio or something that shows your style in more depth. This is a lot of work and may take a while. Get help from friends, family or again posting an ad on Craigslist for some temporary help. After you have mailed everything, follow up with phone calls to let them know who you are. This will help provide a personal connection to your materials and help start future relationships. Building relationships is very important and will help bring work your way through word of mouth. Another great way to build relationships and get your work out is to participate in any bridal shows that come to your area.

Knowing your business and what you offer to your clients and the industry is the most important thing. Just as it is important to know your self-identity as a person, so is it important to know your business identity. When the phone starts ringing people want to see confidence in you and your images. Just remember that images speak louder than words and that the cream always rises to the top.

Why Aperture Prority Is the Best Shooting Mode for Wedding Photography

“Real Pros Shoot Manual”

If I had a penny for every time I had heard this in a photography forum, I could have given up wedding photography Singapore years ago and bought my own island. The sad fact is that photography forums are not really a great place to learn about photography. More often than not one or two ‘strong characters’ will voice an opinion and then their acolytes will repeat it until all opposition is crushed. Forums are more about clashes of egos than real photography advice, with one or two notable exceptions. Often the best real world choice is worked out by photographers in the field, not armchair enthusiasts with an axe to grind. I have shot in manual mode only for prolonged stretches and I do still use it if that is the best option, but for wedding photography Singapore or anything where things can unfold quickly, I find aperture priority the best choice.

My Journey away from Manual Mode.

Like most young photographers who started shooting film, I was taught to shoot in manual mode and a separate light meter. I used black and white film and slide film. Slide film has a very low tolerance for exposure error so measuring light with an incident meter was a must. If you don’t know, an incident light meter measures the light falling on a subject and disregards its tone, so the reading is always accurate. In an ideal world this is the best choice, trouble is, this isn’t an ideal world!

I have always loved street photography, and it is something I have done for pleasure for many years, but more often than not the lighting conditions are not ideal. In many ways this was my training for becoming a wedding photographer. For years I shot in manual, mainly because I used a rangefinder (A Voightlander Bessa R) and it only had a manual mode. This was fine when the light was consistent but a total pain if it wasn’t. I would meter and set my camera up for sunlight only to miss shots in the shade or vice versa. On days with broken sunshine the light would be a constant frustration and I would have to constantly refer back to my meter. In the end I spent more time checking my light meter than I did shooting pictures and I knew something had to change.

When I switched to digital for my 35mm work I started to play around with my technique to suit the new equipment I was using. I found that the in camera metering was good enough. Most of the time, I could let it do its own thing and the exposures would dead on. I had enough experience to know when they wouldn’t be, and in those situations I would override the camera. I found that using aperture priority mode meant I spent more time looking for pictures and less time worrying about camera settings.

Aperture Priority (or Av Mode) – The Speed Of Auto, The control of Manual.

When I started shooting weddings, I found that my aperture setting was one of the main weapons in helping me turn the chaos of a wedding into beautiful images. Aperture choice is one of the main determining factors towards the look of a photograph, and use it to blur out the busy backgrounds that can ruin wedding shots. Weddings move fast, too fast for fiddling around with your camera if the light changes, so a degree of automation is a real necessity. Here are the reasons why I prefer Aperture Priority over Manual in a wedding environment.

Most of the time it’s just not possible to use a separate meter.

If you a positioned at the back of the church during the ceremony and the light changes, you can hardly walk up the aisle, take a quick incident reading off the bride’s face and retire back to your station. If you are using the camera’s built-in meter there is very little point in setting the camera manually when the camera would set itself to the same way automatically. If I feel that the camera has got it wrong I use exposure compensation. That way if the light levels drop the exposure will still be correct.

Aperture Priority gives me my main control over the look of an image.

Depth of field can have a decisive effect on the look of an image. F2.8 will look very different to F11. Once the shutter is fast enough to freeze motion you can’t tell the difference between 1/500th and 1/2000th so Shutter Priority mode does not offer the same aesthetic control especially as your aperture will change in variable light and change the look of the images.

Modern Camera Meters Are Good Enough (Most of the Time).

Modern camera meters will get exposure right 95% of the time, so not using it can almost feel like an affectation. Weddings are hard work and it makes sense to let technology help you where appropriate.

I Can Concentrate on Image Making not Technicalities.

The less I have to worry about technical concerns, the more I concentrate on creativity. Ultimately creativity is what people are hiring me for, so I make sure I’m not getting to bogged down in the technical side of things. I’ve some up with a simple way of working that I can rely on and I stick to that.

Events move Quickly, and I Need to Capture them.

I’m not a fan of making the bride and groom repeat anything. I think you can tell when something is fake so I treat every event at a wedding as a one shot deal. That means I have to think fast, be flexible and react to things as they happen. I don’t have time to keep fiddling with my camera, so aperture priority gives me the perfect balance of control and automation.

It’s better in low light.

I can often find myself at the ragged edge of low light capability at weddings. If things are getting tricky, I use aperture priority to decide what needs to be in focus in the frame and then adjust ISO to get a usable shutter speed. This way I’m always at the best ISO I can get away with.

In Conclusion (and some Caveats)

I have stopped using manual mode for fast paced situations, but one of the reasons I can use aperture priority successfully is I have enough experience to know when the camera is likely to be caught out. If you are a beginner or intermediate who wants to take his or her photography more seriously, I still recommend a prolonged length of time learning to use manual mode on your camera. Too often today, workshops and online tutorials try to persuade you that photography is easy and you don’t have to know the technical stuff. Well unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch, and understanding photography at its most basic is still a necessary grounding in the craft of image making. Aperture priority is a great tool but it is not a replacement for a good photographic brain. The real skill in photography is learning what to do in a myriad of circumstances, and choosing the best compromise to suit the situation.

Happy Shooting!

 

9 SEO Tips for Wedding Photography Singapore Website

Hi, thank you for visiting my website – dougleschan.com, a website specialized in sharing Google SEO tips for you to rank the first page in Google.

Having been doing Google SEO for almost 15 years already and had ranked over 20,000 keywords and ranked many top keywords in number 1 in Google Global (Google.com), Google Singapore (Google.com.sg) and many other Google countries domain. 

I am glad to have brought millions of visitors per year to many of my websites and my clients’ websites. I will show some samples to you below to help your wedding photography Singapore business to rank number 1:

Below I will share with your some advance SEO tips to rank #1 in Google that will be helpful to:

1) Long article – 1901 words or more to be exact.

In order to have a respectable ranking for wedding photography Singapore, your article on your wedding photography website needs to have good content, having said that, it needs to be of plenty of substances and length.

There have been extensive research by my Singapore SEO team and apparently the total number of words within a page that you want to optimise need to have at least 1901 words.

Anything less than that will not be too respectable.  

2) Content marketing  – Using 19 as a reference

So you have great content for wedding photography Singapore, 1901 or more words on that page, and walah!

You are going to be ranked on the first page of Google in the keyword “wedding photography Singapore”.

Hold your horse, my friends.

Having 1901 words is only the first requirement, the next step you will need to use this ratio:

1: Content creation, using the ratio of 1

9: Content marketing, using the ratio of 9

Part 1 (Time) – If you are spending 5 hours of your time writing the content on wedding photography Singapore, you need to focus 5 x 9 = 45 hours in content marketing for wedding photography Singapore.

Part 2 (Money) – If you have spent $1,000 on creating the content on wedding photography Singapore, then you will need to spend another $9,000 in content marketing for wedding photography Singapore.

So you might ask, what do you really need to do in content marketing?

Content Marketing Strategies for wedding photography Singapore Singapore

  1. Email marketing, email to your clients, past clients, potential clients on what you have, let them visit your website and impress them.
  2. Social media sharing, such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, etc
  3. Social sharing in Google +, this is HUGE, respect it.
  4. Social sharing must be shared with the correct group of people, the more focus the better.
  5. Send msg, whatapps, Line, Wechats, Vipers, etc, let your friend go to your website by providing a short write-up with a URL
  6. Advertise, online, offline, paid, free and other methods of advertising works too.

3) Backline Creation for wedding photography Singapore – Pay ZERO focus on it.

Well, all the SEO experts and SEO consultants always said that to build quality backlinks to your own website, but here is what I can offer to you.

BUILD NO BACKLINKS AT ALL. (Stop doing all the dirty works that will damage your SEO ranking)

The more backlinks you create for your website, the more it will harm your website, the reason is that Google knows you are the one creating the backlinks. (Or your team is doing SEO)

Wait, read my words carefully, I am saying – Do not create your own backlinks, it does not mean backlinks are not important.

It is, but only when backlinks are done by OTHER PEOPLE – NATURALLY, then it will be good for your website.

So here is the deal – Backlinks create by you or your own team or even done by other SEO agencies will not bring you anywhere.

Backlinks created naturally by other people that have no relationship with you will bring you to the top.

4) Make Google LOVES Your wedding photography Singapore Website!

The idea of Google is to bring the best RELEVANT information to users.

So if your content related to wedding photography Singapore is not relevant and nobody likes it and nobody pays attention to it, even if you forcefully push it to the first page, it will not stay there for too long.

Google will respect your website when you have relevant content that is liked and loved by many people.

And if your content has over 1901 words and every sentence is good data and information, your website will be very respected!

5) Backlink your wedding photography Singapore website to other websites too!

Yes, it is not all about your website, your content, your brand.

If it is relevant, and if the user needs to make reference to another website, be generous and link it to the relevant website directly or indirectly related to wedding photography Singapore.

For example, if nobody knows what is content writing, I will put a link directly on the key phrase “content writing” and link it to a relevant website that explains what is content writing.

If you notice in my entire article, I also link some key phases to another website, this is sending “SEO Juice” to another website, in traditional SEO marketing, it is not recommended.

My point now is that if you are educating your readers in the most simple and yet informative way, the readers will love it and likely to bookmark your page, read further, like it, share with other friends and they may even send a backlink to your webpage.

The high influencer websites that you have linked to may also take notice of your link and visit your website and you never know if your content is so good that the high authority website may create some links back to your website.

Hence, the benefits of linking to other website are by far more beneficial than just trying to keep all the link juice to yourself.

The more you give, the more you will receive.

6) Visual SEO for wedding photography Singapore Website

The more relevant graphics you have on your webpage, the more interesting your webpage is going to be, remember that more people are a visual person, they like to see graphics that illustrate your points.

Having visual also makes your webpage have more depth and will let user believes that you have actually spent more time and effort to create better content for the readers.

Pictures give great backlinks – Yes, for example in Pinterest.com, it is a social media where people can pin to their Pinterest account and every PIN itself is a link!

Just for your information, Pinterest is generating so many links for my website dougleschan.com in some topics that some of the top keywords are already ranked top 3 in Google without me doing anything!

7) The CTR. It Matters!

So when you search Google for specific information, do you click on ALL the websites?

Not really, so which websites do you click on?

Likely the most interesting and more relevant websites to your search teams, isn’t it? 

So your Title and descriptions of the web-page ought to be interesting and related to what the users are searching for.

So what does it matter, you will ask?

The more people click on your website in Google search, it is telling Google that your website is actually more relevant and potentially important for the users, hence, directly telling Google that your website content can be good.

So if your CTR (Click through rate) is higher than your competitors, the better your “points” are. 

So Google will automatically push your website slightly higher in terms of ranking and the process will continue until it reaches a saturation point. 

Of course, have a good title and description are important, but if the content of your website is not to an expectation of the Google users, then it will backfire, what you have done in point 7 will actually hurt your ranking and it will plunge further down. 

8) SEO Dwelling Time for your wedding photography Singapore website

So what is dwelling time? Dwelling time is the total time a user stays in your website or webpage, the longer the Google user stays, the longer the dwelling time is, and Google actually calculate the total time as an average to tell them how important your website is. 

Remember I was mentioning about the 1901 words?

 

Now you are getting the idea?

The more words you have, especially it is of good quality and interesting, the longer the Google users will stay.

Do you know that you are at point 7 now and how much time you have dwelled in this article?

Probably a couple of minutes, and you have told Google that this page is important.

And the ranking for this page will be pretty respectable.

This is how you give quality information to the users, at the same time build your ranking and branding. 

Next, we move on to point 8, which is the FOCUS POINT. 

8) The FOCUS for wedding photography Singapore Website

Do you know that my website used to have over 10,000 posts of almost everything under the sun?

I realized that I was doing the wrong thing, although I am getting over 1 million visitors every year, I am not focusing enough.

Hence I deleted the 10,000 posting (Super ouch!) and refocus on one SINGLE thing. 

And dougleschan.com will only focus on Google SEO.

Nothing else.

So my purpose is that I need to focus, to tell other people I am the master of SEO marketing.

And to let Google knows that they are ranking dougleschan.com correctly related to Google SEO.

And more importantly creating a brand that anything related to SEO Master Shifu, I am the number one. 

 

This is a very important lesson I have learned, being LASER FOCUS. 

So if your website has a lot of many other things, I would encourage you to realign them and FOCUS on ONE topic or ONE industry that will give value to Google users. 

With FOCUS, then you will get results.

9) Giving Values to wedding photography Singapore Users

I learned the exponential value of GIVING 20 years ago, most people and businesses have this mentality that a potential needs to pay first to get a service or product but personally, I think this is a must better way. 

That is by giving and expect nothing in return. 

So to get different results, I use different methods, I give value to all my clients, even people who are not my clients.

I will give them the value.

So when a non-client become a client, I gave them even far much more that they will be overwhelmed!

A good example is that many years back, I am referring plenty of new potential business to companies (they are not my client) and I have referred them over 10 new businesses that easily add up to $20,000 to $30,000 worth of value. 

Then 6 months later, the boss of the company called me and told me that they have terminated the service with their SEO Agency and asked me if I am open to help them in their SEO ranking.

I told them I am glad to assist them in their SEO services.

And now, today is already the 4th year the clients are with me and I have helped them to ranked 5 of their websites to be top 3 in Google Singapore.

Each of their websites is attracting thousands of visitors every single that and their revenues have skyrocketed to millions of dollars. 

The rest is history.  

Coming back to the GIVING part, in this article, if you realized, I am putting in plenty of valuable information and if you were to use some of them, you will likely to rank very well in Google and potentially can make money if you are doing business.

If you are looking to brand your company, it will be also very useful. 

I could easily charge a few thousands of dollars per person if I am doing the training on SEO which many people are doing right now.

The value I am going to get from my contributing of these amazing value for free will be far much more than just a few thousands of dollar because I am a strong believer of GIVERS GAIN, quoted by Dr. Ivan Misner, who is the founder of Business Network International @ BNI.com

Yes, in order to rank well in Google, you need to give plenty of values to your readers

Your readers will likely not just appreciate your giving of information, data and case studies, they may also LIKE them, SHARE them, COMMENT on them, backlink to your website, mention your website in their social media.

This will directly help your website in terms of your Google ranking. 

If you notice, I focus quite a fair bit on social sharing and using other peoples natural backlinks.

End of the day, it is still back to user experiences and if one does not have good user experience, especially in content, your ranking will never reach the top. 

10) Do you REMEMBER?

When you read a long article, do you really remember most of the things they have written?

Most people are not able to remember many of the important points that the writer is given so your role will be to provide the easiest and memorable information to the reader.

Somethings there is a need to repeat certain things a few times.

For example, when I gave a presentation to Singapore BNI – Synergy Chapter as I am representing as an expert in SEO in that chapter.

And my showcase was given 10 minutes to present, and after the showcase, everyone remembers 4 numbers:

And I break down “1901” into sub-categories so that everyone is able to digest the information easily.

Ask any of the BNI Synergy members and they will be able to remember the event and what is SEO and how to rank well in Google using 1901.

Hence, the point I am trying to derive is this:

The easier the users are able to remember, subconsciously they will continue to come back to your website for more related information they are looking for;

And this not just increase your loyalty to your website, you will have returning visitor and potentially more referrals to more people to your website.

When more people who have the interest on what they are looking for, they will stay longer in the website, in turns, it gives Google the signal that your website is filled with good content and the “Dwelling Time” is longer!

If you notice, I have actually repeated the same information above in this area, simply because I want you to remember. 

Alright, I believe I have covered enough to make you a semi-expert in SEO, try some of the techniques above and let me know the results, do comment below and I will try my best to answer your questions. 

Thank you for reading.

Dougles Chan – SEO Master Shifu

For SEO Consulting, please contact (65) 93880851 email dc @dougleschan.com