Wedding Photography Advice for New Photographers

I had an article published in Photographer Monthly not so long ago, if you didn't get the chance to read it, here is the full, unedited version. Feel free to comment on the blog and get in touch with any questions.

For the right type of photographer, weddings can be a deeply rewarding profession – both creatively and emotionally...

Allister Freeman explains...

I never really saw myself as a specialist wedding photographer, admits Allister Freeman, a pro wedding photographer. I originally worked as a photographic assistant in London's fashion and advertising scene after leaving university, in the first few years I fitted weddings in and around my other photographic commitments but over time I got drawn in and now I’m totally hooked!

Any tips for people wanting to turn pro?

Wedding photography is a tough, competitive industry and has been so for the last few years. If you’re considering turning pro, Allister has some sound advice - try not to make hasty, expensive decisions that will set you back in terms of profit and development. For instance, don’t throw money at unnecessary marketing or feel the need to buy the latest upgrade of the most expensive camera.

It obviously helps to have good kit but it’s so much more important to spend time building your skills and knowledge. When you've done your first year, you then have the knowledge and goals to make much more informed and productive decisions on your business.

The most important tip I can give is to develop your own unique style of shooting.

I use available light so I can accurately reproduce the day. It helps create contemplative, meaningful images. I only use flash when absolutely necessary as I find it intrusive in certain situations.

If you don’t create a strong, memorable style you’ll be lost in the mass, walking down a very well-trodden path. Develop your people skills and a friendly, unflustered approach that will encourage trust and confidence during a wedding. This goes an incredibly long way.

Greatest challenge faced by today's photographer?

I believe the greatest challenge for photographers is still to come and will probably peak over the next few years.

Digital technology has come a long way and, coupled with the internet, has completely turned the media world on its head. With the current rate of change the industry will be very different within the next five to ten years.

The most important, and also hardest thing to do as a photographer, is to have the capacity to change with the times. This is not necessarily in terms of shooting but in actually marketing and maintaining a consistently successful photography business. Even if it is outside your comfort zone.

With the onset of new technologies certain areas of the industry will undoubtedly move on. Many of today's digital SLR cameras have the ability to shoot HD movie footage and I already know of some photographers offering a fusion of still and movie products to customers.

It's by no means a new approach but it's likely to be a temptation for some and may gradually evolve into another type of business within the wedding market. Although I'm not convinced a discerning customer would want it.

Your motivation?

My motivation comes from creating meaningful images for my customers. I'm constantly looking for new ways of making photographs at each wedding. Positive, honest feedback from my customers is also incredibly motivating and something I strive for.

I take inspiration from a lot of places - I follow blogs written by photographers that inspire me and constantly have my head buried in books, usually one featuring the work of social documentary photographers.

It's very important to me to make genuine, contemplative images. Working closely with subjects builds an incredible amount of trust, this trust then enables me to capture very intimate shots throughout the day.

Essential Kit?

There is no 'essential' kit, a good photograph should be able to be made using any camera. I personally like to use fast prime lenses and small bodies with good high ISO noise levels, this enables me to shoot in very dark situations without the need for flash.