7 Steps to Make Money as a Wedding Photographer
The agreement package reached with the bridal shops, hair salons, make up artist and hall rentals should be towards offering a discount for the clients.
For example each client that you refer to them should include at least a 10% discount on the rental, services or purchases.
Take this as a marketing tool used to gain you an advantage not to make a profit. At least not when you are first starting out and want to gain clientele.
After you are established then you can adjust prices and agreements accordingly but work on building your reputation first and foremost.
Your goal should be to seek clientele, afterwards clients will seek you out.
If you make a good name for yourself you will not need to advertise as clients will advertise with the most successful method and that is word of mouth.
OK so there are really more steps than 7 but based on over 30 years experience as an independent photographer and in dealing with more established and much better photographers than myself I can tell you that if you have the basic gear and know how to use it, you can start a photography business in as little as two to three weeks with some basic steps and grow from there.
Basically the 7 steps to make money as a photographer are these and they are not in any particular order;
The most lucrative and easiest photography market to enter, especially if you want to start getting your feet wet, is wedding photography. Start here and branch out later.
Assuming that you have a D.S.L.R, or a S.L.R, a decent flash unit and a zoom lens in the range of 60mm to 80mm you have the basic tools to make money.
A lot depends also on what you want; do you want to make a living of photography or do you just want to make some extra cash on the weekends?
If you want to make a living from photography there are off course some more steps and a lot of marketing know how but if you want to make some extra cash these are the basic tools and steps that should start you on your way.
First; print at least 500 business cards with your contact information. Print the prices of the back of the card. No need to go fancy for now with the paper, logos etc.
Business cards can go for as little as $9.00 per 500 hundred and small print size cards can go for as little as 99 cents each or less.
Second; scout some good, creative and exciting locations where the shoots will take place and these should be locations that are out of the ordinary and creative.
If you are just going to do the same shoots as all the other photographers then you really have nothing special that separates you from the rest and lets you offer something new to compete against other well established photographers.
Think outside the box and seek locations that are unusual even if they do not fit the model of what a photographic location should be. Nature sites, old looking architecture, the beach, even junk yards can be turned into photographic sets.
Third; scout bridal shops, hair salons, reception halls, and tuxedo/gown rental stores. Contact the management and make a deal to offer them a flat fee (not a percentage) for every customer that they refer and does the shoot with you.
It is best to offer a flat fee since a percentage depends on trust and the management does not really know how much you charged plus doing percentages can get complicated.
Better if they know ahead of time how much they will be getting. I suggest anywhere from $50 to $100 per client. Make sure to leave business cards with each location and leaving a small print sample of your work helps.
Try to reach a similar deal as that of the bridal shops with at least one good makeup artist. Not only will he/she get a flat fee for referrals but they get to charge for their services.
Fourth; either get a good quality photo printer, ink plus quality photo paper or reach a deal for a discount with a reputable print shop to print the finished photographs for your clients.
Fifth; it is advisable to get a program that digitally edits the face area of your subjects. Even if the customer knows about digital processing, nothing beats showing a nicely edited image featuring their face since it is what most people focus on when looking at an image and more so if it's theirs.
The best program so far is Portrait Professional. Easy to use and gives great results plus the price is very modest at around $40.00. Use it to retouch faces and to eliminate small imperfections on the skin as well as to highlight lips, hair and skin tones.
The perfect scenario would be if you can offer clients a package deal that includes the hall rental, the photography, the hair and makeup as well as the wedding gown. Remember that the final prices per package depends on what you want to take out of the experience and come out in the black.
Sixth; Costs/Charges; as far as how much to charge; add your costs (not including the gear you already have).
1) Business cards $9.00, 2) 20 print size photo samples with your logo/contact information 95 times 20 = $19.00, 3) $50 to $100 per referral assuming that one client constitutes one referral, 4) approximately $100 printing costs for the photographs (more or less dependent on the printer or if done at home) and you have an approximate set fixed expense of $228.00.
Notice that we are not including the cost of the gear nor your time, gasoline, car maintenance or anything else at this point but if you were to later on make this your living, then at that time you would have to take these other expenses into consideration.
So you see if you were to charge $500 for your services including the printing you end up making a net of approximately $272
However the usual rate that is normally charged for a wedding is about $1000, so it is up to you to set the prices but if you are just starting out and want to compete then a lower price may be in order at the beginning.
Some studios offer 10 hours of photography at the wedding for about $995 and others will offer the same but with a DVD instead of prints for about $595.
Seventh; one more thing to consider is to have some formal office stationary for invoices. These should not only have your contact information but should have the space to clearly detail the services rendered by you.
The basics can be bought for about $42.00 for 250 pieces or you can get them much cheaper online or even go at it completely paperless.
At the very least buy a standard receipt booklet and use it. Do not do business by simple word of mouth thus drawing a standard services contract is in order.
Sure there are many photography themes that a person willing to put in the time may become involved in.
However, unless you count with loads of extra cash and plenty of time you will need to slowly build up your stock, finances and gain skills.
Concentrating on weddings is by far the easiest and most lucrative market for new comers to enter into.
Once there and you are set in the field then you can dedicate your efforts to other themes that appeal to you and perhaps even venture into other completely different fields such as nature photography but as they say " everyone has to start somewhere".
Does this sound like something you would do?
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© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez