The 5 Mistakes Every Beginner Wedding Photographer Makes

If you are new to the world of wedding photography, then by now you’ll have figured that there is a lot to think about. From your equipment, to the tools you need, and especially how to build your business.

With all that going on, it can be easy to overlook something that could end up being a costly mistake. To help make sure you’re well prepared, here’s a list of the top 5 mistakes that every beginner wedding photographer makes.

Photographer: Rachel Traxler

Not having a contract with the couple

Take it from our experience – not establishing a watertight contract with the couple is a biiiig mistake. It’ll come back to bite you in the bum. So – even if the thought of legal stuff makes your eyes water – make sure you do it.

You need to set crystal clear expectations about the photo rights, your retainer fee, how many pictures you have to deliver, and what happens if you are unexpectedly ill on the day. You should also describe any expectations you have from the couple. For example, should they cover your travel and expense costs? Do you need them to prepare anything in advance of the day? It doesn’t really matter the contract describes, so long as it is mutually agreed between you and the couple.

It can be hard to do this initially, but you have to think of yourself as a business. You wouldn’t enter into a commercial agreement without a clear contract outlining expectations from both sides. It’s no different for you now that you are a wedding photography.

Photographer: Celeste Nield

Shooting in JPEG

Argh! Shooting in JPEG! Don’t do it. When it comes to shooting a wedding there will be so many once in a lifetime moments. You’ll need to be ready to capture them within the blink of an eye. That makes it quite likely that you’ll need to do some post-processing to make the final images look as magical as the moment on the day. To do this, you’re absolutely going to need to work with RAW files.

Just as a quick reminder: RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. Shooting in JPEG compresses the images, so that all the data is lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.

Because of the extra information stored with the image in RAW, they are much bigger files than JPEGs. So make sure you have a memory card that is sufficiently big to shoot a whole day.

Photographer: edytaphotography

Underpricing yourself

Let’s not beat around the bush here – wedding photography is a lot of work. The actual time you spend on the day is just the tip of the iceberg. What follows after that could be months of editing and processing. You may come away with thousands of images and you will need time to work your magic. Add to that the cost of your equipment, any software licenses, accounting and other overheads, and it soon adds up.

It can be easy to get your initial clients by pricing yourself more cheaply than your competitors. But take it from us, it’s a mistake. List out exactly what you would like to earn each year and each of your running costs – from the coffees you make to get through editing, to the clothes you buy to wear when shooting, and then set a rate based on your actual running costs.

Most wedding couples would rather pay more for a great photographer than less for an average one. So have faith in your skills, work on building a killer brand, and then set the rate you believe you’re worth.

Relying to much time on technical stuff but not on composition

There are definitely technical aspects to great photography, but there is no substitute for a great eye. You could be the most technically capable wedding photographer in the world with the maddest editing skills in town, but without a beautifully composed image to work with, you’re stuffed.

Understanding composition takes time and practice. So it’s definitely worth putting in the effort to develop your skills if it’s not something that comes naturally to you. Grab your camera and head out to do as many different types of shoots as possible to play around with composition. A lot will depend on your style, but there is also a lot of science behind what makes an image beautiful. Study and practice as much as you can before heading into a shoot. Eventually spotting perfect compositions that compliment your style will become second nature.

Photographer: Blackleyphoto

Editing every single picture with photoshop

Photoshop is a very advanced editing tool, but it’s not designed to be used to edit and organize hundreds of images at the same time. In fact, until recently, photographers were faced with an almost impossible task of archiving images post-production. It was an inefficient and tedious process that required lots of time.

Lightroom solves this issue. Part of the Adobe family, Lightroom is a cloud-based editing software that allows you to easily edit your work in just a few clicks. It reads the metadata that’s stored with the image when you take a shot, and then automatically catalogues according to that. This makes it effortless to sift through hundreds of images and edit in batches.

Don’t waste time on your post-processing workflow. We love Lightroom, but the truth is there are lots of options available if you don’t find Lightroom a good match for you. Optimize your process and you’ll be whizzing through amazing projects faster than ever before, freeing up your time to move onto even bigger, better and more challenging shoots!

And there you have it – 5 rookie mistakes that every beginner photographer makes that you can learn from. Your career as a solo creative will be a lot of trial and error, but by skipping out on the big mistakes, you can focus instead on fine-tuning your unique style and flow. Good luck!

Written by:
Dirty Boots & Messy Hair Team

Connection is what it’s all about. Feel free to reach out to us with any comments or questions you might have, even if it’s only to say hello. If it wasn’t for our beautiful community, this place just wouldn’t feel the same.

Photographer Tips
24 May 2018

1 Comment

  1. Mark says:

    Great article, but do beginner wedding photographers really shoot in JPEG?! OMG… and edit every image with Photoshop?! Surely not!

    I remember when I first started out shooting weddings and discovering batch editing in Lr was a revelation! I guess some people wouldn’t know about this, though.

    Luminar seems to be a decent competitor to Lightroom, but not so much for wedding photographers – batch editing multiple images is tough to say the least, but using the AI sunrays or sky replace feature will be tempting for the odd big landscape shot…

    The biggest mistake I see beginner wedding togs make is bringing WAY too much gear… then spending half the time trying to decide which lens to use…

    Another one is not directing enough/directing too much. That kind of thing takes a lot of weddings and experience to master.

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