wedding photography mistakes

10 Wedding Photography Mistakes That Beginners Make

Filed in For Photographers — June 22, 2022

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As you work on building your business, it’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes. It’s all part of growing and improving! Nobody knows everything, but to help you avoid regrets down the road, this guide has 10 wedding photography mistakes that beginner photographers often make… plus how to avoid them.

1. Not Using a Wedding Photography Contract

This is one of the biggest wedding photography mistakes, and is a common one. A contract is one of those things people don’t put too much thought into until it’s too late. Contracts are so important, and they protect both the photographer and the client. You should use one for every shoot you do and you should make sure to have it looked over by a lawyer. Alternatively, you can purchase a template from someone with legal experience like the Law Tog. There are so many scenarios that can happen on a wedding day and your contract should cover every possible situation.

While we always hope we don’t need to refer to the contract, it’s so important to have it in writing in case of, uh… a global pandemic or something.

2. Not Backing Up Files

Most photographers know that you need to save your photos to a hard drive, but one common wedding photography mistake that beginners often make is not having enough backups! A good rule of thumb is to always have at least 3 copies of the photos while you’re working on them. Don’t format memory cards until the photos are delivered, have them on at least one external hard drive, and have a cloud-based backup too! 

My favorite hard drive is the Seagate portable hard drive, but always keep in mind that technology isn’t fool proof, which is why having at least 3 copies of every photo is essential. You definitely don’t want to have to tell a couple that just got married that the photos from their wedding day are gone!

3. Forgetting About the Client Experience

Taking good photos is great – but it’s just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a photography business. The client experience is what really sets you apart from other photographers, so forgetting to focus on improving yours is a big mistake! The client experience can include everything from how you reply to emails, to how you pose couples and everything you do to make each client feel special. Work on developing your own unique process and make sure every couple has an amazing experience working with you!

4. Focusing on Your Photos, Not Your Couple

For a lot of beginner photographers, it can feel like you need to get the shot, and it’s easy to forget what you’re really doing this for. Each wedding day is about the couple getting married, not about you. While I know the feeling of wanting to get every moment picture perfect and build your portfolio of epic photos, it’s so much more important to stay tuned in to what the couple wants, and work to make their day the best it can be. For example, if you’re getting the feeling that the couple wants to be done with photos and wants to spend time with their guests, but you want to get some shots in front of that epic backdrop, put your needs aside! Remember… you can ask them their thoughts! Tell them that you can get some amazing photos over there, but that it’s up to them what they want to do. Couples will appreciate the experience they have with you (that’s where the client experience comes in again!) so much more if you listen and prioritize their needs, rather than focusing on taking the photos that you want to take.

5. Not Niching Down

One of the biggest wedding photography mistakes that beginners make is trying to be a jack of all trades. While it’s okay to take some time to figure out what you want to do and to experiment with different styles, you’ll book a lot more clients if you specialize in one thing! For example, trying to be a wedding, elopement, family, newborn, commercial, and headshot photographer will only confuse potential clients. If you want to shoot adventure elopements, brand yourself as an elopement photographer! It’s okay to take wedding work when it comes to you (if you want it), but keep your website and social media focused on elopements. This will attract the clients that you really want to work with.

6. Not Communicating Enough

You should always be a few steps ahead of your clients. Answer questions before they even know they have them! Throughout the entire process, set expectations and tell your clients exactly what to expect, and when. Don’t ghost them during the time between booking and the wedding day. Check in every few months! This will ensure that they know they made the right decision booking you. Keeping track of clients and communication can be difficult. This is why I recommend a CRM like Dubsado to keep you on track.

7. Spending Too Much on Gear, Too Soon

Gear is so important for wedding photography – that’s undeniable! But, a common wedding photography mistake that beginners make is spending every dollar they have on the highest quality gear. Many people are surprised to find that expensive gear doesn’t equal better photos! You’ll definitely need to invest in a camera and at least a couple of lenses. However, don’t forget that the best way to improve your photos is to practice. Then, you can build your gear collection as you gain experience.

8. Never Posting Photos of Themselves

I get it, being on the other side of the camera is scary! I’ll be the first one to say that I even need to take my own advice on this one!

A lot of beginner wedding photographers don’t realize that photos of yourself on your website and social media are just as important as the shots you take of couples. Potential clients want to work with people they feel a connection to. Photos of yourself, as well as “about me” pages and personal captions are the way to connect through a computer, or phone, screen, and it will encourage people to reach out to you!

9. Not Thinking About Composition of Each Photo

It’s easy to get caught up in other aspects of the image and forget to think about the background, or how your image is composed. Slowing down while you’re shooting is so important! It’s better to be intentional about each photo and have more good ones, than to snap 1000 frames and have only a few be usable! When it comes to composition, one of the most common wedding photography mistakes is having lines going through the head of the subject. For example, a horizon in the background. Always position heads above or below the lines, to avoid distracting from your couple.

10. Giving Up on Wedding Photography

The truth is that a lot of small businesses fail – but you don’t have to be one of them. Building a business is a lot of work and it takes a long time. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s easy for beginner photographers to get discouraged, wondering if there’s any point in trying.

Self doubt is a normal part of the process – but don’t give up on wedding photography! If this is truly something you want, it will happen. No matter how slow it feels, keep working to improve your photography, your client experience and invest in yourself. You’ve got this!

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