So you wanna be a Wedding Photographer. You want to photograph those extravagant country and city weddings. You want to be able to charge un-Godly amounts for your photography services. So you went out and purchased a DSLR and you are ready to book your first wedding. WHHOOOAAAA!!! Slow down and take a few steps back. Believe me it's not as easy as that. I had sort of the same mindset but I realized I missed a few steps.
Before I get into this, let me tell you about my experience as a wedding photographer. I have no experience as a wedding photographer. But keep reading. I just started out in this business and had all these grand ideas and goals and then realized that you have to do some leg work in a very saturated professional market like wedding photography. So I took a breath and started working on how to become one by taking certain steps. Now I am not saying that my way is right or is the only way to do it, but it's what I have doing to get my foot into the market.
First I researched what gear would I need to assist me in creating great images. That took me about 6-8 months to do. Because I am simply weird when it comes to buying things like this. So I read every stinking article that is available and view every video I can get my hand on and read every customer review to help me narrow down my decision. And sometimes you can't afford the gear you really want so you have to do research on backup ideas and so on and so on. But forums, videos and gear companies like B&H and Adorama are great starting points.
Next I dedicated myself to learning, learning, learning and yes...more learning. I took classes, I watch tutorials (Fstoppers and SLR Lounge are absolutely awesome to learn from), I read articles and watched videos of photographer interviews of the photographers I admired (Cliff Mautner, Joe Buissink, Patrick Hall, Lee Morris, Hunter McRae). I also studied the work of outstanding local photographers in the Myrtle Beach. So I was and still am always reading and watching and asking fellow photographers questions. I want to learn, I want to grow, but most importantly I want this information that I soak in to resonate in my work in the future. In the business of photography I think you are never "there" I think there is something to always to learn to grow your skill set. So why not continued to learn a long the way.
Next I started reaching out to other photographers to find work and gain experience. Whether it was being a second shooter or an assistant on a wedding, a commercial shoot, an event...I simply didn't care. I wanted to gain experience. I used my teacher for his resources to see if he had contacts. With his connections my first real gig was a gymnastics shoot. A weekend long state gymnastics competition. You may say, what does that have to do with wedding photography? Well let me tell you. It allowed me to learn and experience two things. One...what it meant to be on your feet for about 8-14 hours holding a camera. Second, by the end of the weekend it taught me how to anticipate a moment. Two things that wedding photography demands. So that situation taught me those two valuable things. But I didn't stop there. I started emailing the photographers that I admired their work from the Myrtle Beach, Charleston and North Carolina areas to find opportunities to work and learn from some of them. Then by doing that I found other great photographers that I didn't know of. I joined Facebook photography groups in my area and in other areas. I simply didn't just sit a home and wait for someone to call or reach out to me. I took jobs for free because I felt the experience was valuable. Don't get me wrong I like money but sometimes I felt I had to sacrifice to learn. This process of mine gave me the opportunity to work with great photographers like Keith Jacobs, Scott Smallin, Jarrett Hucks, Feuza Reis and Patrick Hall. I learned a lot from each one of those opportunities and then I learn more when I see my images and they critique them. I still have a list of photographers just from my state that I would love to work with and learn from (Hunter McRae and Gillian Claire Reinhardt...I am not giving up)
So find your own way to break into the market. I am still working hard to get in there and I will continue to work hard. not saying my way is the gospel but it has been working for me.