Sony a7iii: How to set up eye AF

Sony a7iii: How to set up eye AF

Eye AF is Sony’s DSLR killing technology. Watching Sony a9 photographers use it stirred incredible envy and not before long, I had pre-ordered two Sony a7iii camera bodies.

If you are new to Sony, like I was, eye AF is a game changer. To turn it on and enable it in your photography is however, a bit of a hidden process. In this blog post, I am going to show to do it with ease.

By default, the center button on your Sony a7iii will activate eye AF. However, I find this button assignment to be hard to reach with my thumb whilst shooting. I will be showing you how you can assign the “AF-ON” button to trigger eye AF on your Sony a7iii.

Here is how you enable eye AF on your Sony a7 iii camera:

  1. Make sure you top dial is not set on a movie recording mode (M, A, S, P are fine).
  2. On menu tab 1, page 5/14, make sure Focus Mode is set to “Continuous AF”.
  3. On menu tab 2, page 8/9, select photo mode “Custom Key”.
  4. To assign a button to trigger eye AF, scroll across to page 2 of the Custom Key settings menu. By default, eye AF is triggered by the Center Button. I suggest leaving this as is.
  5. Go to page 3 of the Custom Key settings menu.
  6. Select “AEL Button”.
  7. To assign eye AF to the AEL button, scroll to page 4/22 and select “Eye AF” on the bottom of the page.
  8. When photographing your subject, use your thumb to hold down the AEL button to trigger eye AF. A small green box will appear once your a7 III has detected an eye. If the camera cannot detect an eye, it will default to face detection (seen as a white box around your subject’s face).

Things to change while you are inside the photo mode Custom Key menu

Since you are already here, you might as well make some changes to make your life easier when out photographing. I suggest assigning the following functions to these buttons:

  • Custom Button 1 (C1): ASP-C S35 / Full Frm Sel.
  • Custom Button 2 (C2): Focus Area
  • Custom Button 3 (C3): Focus Mode
  • Custom Button 4 (C4): Silent Shooting
  • Left Button: Drive Mode (default)
  • Right Button: ISO (default)
  • AF-ON Button: AF On
  • Focus Hold Button: Eye AF

How to set up back button focusing on the Sony a7iii

To enable back button focusing (BBF) on on your Sony a7 III, we need to assign the AF-ON button to trigger autofocus. But in order to do so, you first need to follow these steps:

  1. On menu tab 1, page 6/14, go to the last item “AF w/ shutter”.
  2. By default, “AF w/ shutter” will be on. In order to enable back button focusing, turn this off.
  3. Go to menu tab 1, page 7/14, and turn “Pre-AF” to “Off”.
  4. Go to menu tab 2, page 8/9, select photo mode “Custom Key”.
  5. Scroll across to page 3 of the photo mode Custom Key menu, select AF-ON Button and select “AF On”.

And you’re ready to use back button focusing!

To focus, press and hold AF-ON and when you are happy with the timing and/or composition of the frame, press the shutter button to capture the image.

What is back button focusing and why should you use BFF?

I’ll let Tony Northrup explain. I’ll just make a mess of it.

 

What lenses work with eye AF?

All native Sony FE lenses will work with eye AF on the a7iii. These include:

  • Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
  • Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
  • Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
  • Sony FE 28mm f/2
  • Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
  • Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
  • Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
  • Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
  • Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
  • Sony Planar %* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA
  • Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8ZA
  • Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
  • Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
  • Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS
  • Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro
  • Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS
  • Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS
  • Sony FE 70-200mm f/4G OSS
  • Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS
  • Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS
  • Sony FE 500mm f/2.8 GM OSS
  • ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8
  • ZEISS Batis 25mm f.2
  • ZEISS Batis 85mm f/1.8
  • ZEISS Batis 135mm f/2.8 OSS
  • Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD
  • Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 35mm f.1,4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 50mm f/14 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Art
  • Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
  • Rokinon AF 14mm f/2.8 FE
  • Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 FE
  • Rokinon AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
  • Rokinon AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
  • Rokinon AF 50mm f/1.4 FE

But what about non-native Sony FE lenses? How about Canon EF lenses using a Metabones IV adapter?

I spent some time digging around and these were my findings.

Does Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II work with Sony a7iii eye AF?

Yes, eye AF does work with the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II on the a7iii using a Metabones IV adapter. It will track a subject with eye AF. It will work even when the 85L is shot wide open at f/1.2.

Does Canon FE 35mm f/1.4L II work with Sony a7iii eye AF?

Yes, eye AF does work with the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II on the a7iii using a Metabones IV adapter. It will track a subject with eye AF. It will work even when the 35L is shot wide open at f/1.4.

Does Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II USM work with Sony a7iiieye AF?

Towards the 200mm mark, the a7 III had some difficulty with achieving eye AF using a Metabones IV adapter. Sometimes the camera would take a prolonged time to find eye AF. In these instances, the a7 III was always able to achieve face detection. Once face detection was achieved, eye AF became easy.

Can I use E-mount lenses on Sony a7?

Can I use E-mount lenses on Sony a7?

In my opinion, Sony has the worst and confusing lens naming system of all camera lens manufacturers. As a relatively new Sony a7 III owner myself having pre-ordered two a7 III bodies upon announcement, I did some research on whether or not I can use Sony E-mount lenses on my Sony a7 III. This is what I found:

Technically, you can use any Sony E-mount lens on your Sony a7, a7R, a7S and a9 models. However, using Sony E-mount lenses such as the ‘Sony Sonnar T* 24mm f/1.8 ZA for NEX’ will result in severe black vignetting around each image in full frame mode. This is because Sony E-mount lenses were specifically developed for APS-C camera sensors. The severe vignetting is a result of the lens not being able to cover a full frame sensor. To bypass this, you can enable the crop mode feature found on Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 9 models. Using the same Sony Sonnar T* 24mm f/1.8  ZA lens as an example, in crop mode, the effective focal range would be 1.5x 24mm = 36mm and the resultant image would be down-sampled to a  lower megapixel output.

Confusing?

Yes. I agree.

In my rush to pick up a fast wide angle lens, I made the mistake of buying the Sony Sonnar T* 24mm f/1.8 ZA (SEL24F18Z) for my Sony a7 III. Clearly I did not take note of the “for NEX” in the product description before paying for it.

100% my mistake but seriously Sony, you guys could have differentiated FE and E-mount lenses a bit better.

This is what severe vignetting looks like

 

What lenses should you get for your Sony a7?

Don’t make my silly $998 mistake.

Always choose Sony FE for Sony E-mount lenses. Take a look at the screengrab of B&H when filtering for Sony lenses for your a7 or a9.

what sony e-mount lenses work with the sony a7

See how there is a checkbox for “Full Frame Lenses”?

Make sure that you click on that box, otherwise, you will be presented with a whole bunch of similarly named lenses that are designed specifically for APS-C cameras (e.g., a6300, a6500).

Here is a complete list of Sony E-mount FE lenses for your Sony a7, a7 II, a7 III, a7S, a7S II, a7R, a7R II, a7R III, a9

  • Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
  • Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
  • Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
  • Sony FE 28mm f/2
  • Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
  • Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
  • Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
  • Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
  • Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
  • Sony Planar %* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA
  • Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8ZA
  • Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
  • Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
  • Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS
  • Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro
  • Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS
  • Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS
  • Sony FE 70-200mm f/4G OSS
  • Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS
  • Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS
  • Sony FE 500mm f/2.8 GM OSS
  • ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8
  • ZEISS Batis 25mm f.2
  • ZEISS Batis 85mm f/1.8
  • ZEISS Batis 135mm f/2.8 OSS
  • Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD
  • Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 35mm f.1,4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 50mm f/14 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Art
  • Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
  • Rokinon AF 14mm f/2.8 FE
  • Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 FE
  • Rokinon AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
  • Rokinon AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
  • Rokinon AF 50mm f/1.4 FE

PS – all the lenses listed above will autofocus with your Sony a7 and a9 camera.

Do not buy these Sony E-mount lenses for your Sony a7

These lenses will either cause severe vignetting in your images or force you to use APS-C mode on your Sony a7 camera. Using APS-C mode will result in a loss of megapixel resolution. For example, on the a7 III with a 24-megapixel sensor, APS-C mode will result in a 10.66-megapixel image output.

  • Sony E 16mm f/2.8
  • Sony E 20mm f/2.8
  • Sony Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA
  • Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS
  • Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS
  • Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS
  • Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
  • Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS
  • Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
  • Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS LE
  • Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS
  • Sigma 15mm f/1.4 DC DN
  • Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN
  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN
  • Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN
  • Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN
How much do wedding photographers make?

How much do wedding photographers make?

I didn’t know wedding photography was a legitimate line of business. I didn’t even think that wedding photographers were professional photographers. This was back in 2008, when I was totally ignorant of wedding photography. Little did I know how much wedding photographers could make. I suspect you feel the same way. Well, wouldn’t you like to know?

In this article, I will try to answer the following questions:

  1. What does a wedding photographer do?
  2. Do wedding photographers make good money?
  3. How much do wedding photographers make per wedding?
  4. What expenses do wedding photographers have?
  5. I hate editing photos. What can I do?
  6. How does one become a full time wedding photographer?
  7. What equipment do I need to be a wedding photographer?
  8. Are there full time wedding photography jobs that come with a salary?
  9. How to build a wedding photography portfolio when you don’t have any wedding photography experience.
  10. How long does it take to get your first wedding photography client?
  11. BONUS: 5 pieces of software that revolutionized my wedding photography workflow

Job description: what does a wedding photographer do?

Using a digital and/or film camera, the task of a professional wedding photographer is to take photographs so that the moments that they capture may add value to their customer(s).

What are the moments that a wedding photographer will pay attention to? Usually, anything to do with the his/her client (the newlyweds). This includes any interactions that the newlyweds will share with each other and share with their friends and family. These interactions may be photographed in a photojournalistic way – that is, without any clear posing or directional input from the wedding photographer. Or these interactions may be posed – for example, group portraits.

Besides photographs of people, a wedding photographer will also photograph inanimate objects. Examples include:

  • The wedding cake.
  • The internal and external environment surrounding the ceremony location.
  • The rings.
  • The groom’s shoes (and yes, even socks).
  • The bride’s and bridesmaids’ bouquets.
  • The groomsmen’s’ matching bow ties.
  • The floral setup at the reception venue.
  • The bride’s shoes.
  • The wedding dress.
  • The bride’s veil.
  • The perfume used.
  • And the wedding transport.

On top of taking photographs, a wedding photographer is a time-keeper, a problem-solver, a crowd herder, an encouraging listener, and a BFF. But before a wedding photographer can do any of this, he/she must market themselves to attract paying customers. This includes:

  • Sharing their photography across relevant social media channels.
  • Creating and updating a website that captures booking enquiries.
  • Meeting industry colleagues to network.
  • Replying to booking enquiries via email, phone, text messages, and DMs.
  • And meeting with prospective customers, collecting sales and signed contracts.

Ultimately, a wedding photographer is an entrepreneur – you solve a customer’s problem by providing them with a unique solution of value.

After the couple have said their vows, cut the cake, and danced, a wedding photographer’s job is to ensure that all the images that they have taken are securely stored. After the exhausting but fun 12-hour wedding day, the real work begins. What does this work consist of?

  • Going through every single image to remove the duds and to select the keepers.
  • Arrange the keeper images into chronological order.
  • Edit the keepers (anywhere from 500 – 1,500 images within a 12-hour coverage day).
  • Export the images (from raw – because you shoot in raw right) into JPEG format.
  • Upload the images to an online gallery and/or copy the JPEG files across to a flash storage device.
  • Backup the final JPEG files.
  • Archive the original raw files.
  • Contact the clients to let them know that their wedding photographs are ready.
  • Ask clients for reviews/testimonials.

The most time consuming tasks for a wedding photographer have been highlighted for your convenience: namely, culling and post-processing. It is normal for a wedding photographer to spend an hour selecting keepers from a pool of a few thousand images and then another 8+ hours editing the images on top of that. I know for myself, those time estimates are rough estimates based on my own wedding photography work.

Keep these numbers (12 hours onsite, 2 hours spent traveling to the wedding and back, 1 hour culling, 8 hours editing, 3 hours on admin) in mind for a later section when I talk about profitability of running a wedding photography business.

Do wedding photographers make good money?

Yes. As a professional photographer myself, it is a resounding YES from me. I once booked 20 weddings across a 60-day period, netting me $40,000! But there is a caveat.  How much you can earn as a wedding photographer depends on how hard you are willing to work on yourself, work for your clients, and work on/in your business.

In general, wedding photographers in the United States charge between $1,500 to $4,000. Discounting a whole lot of factors such as city and region, the average wedding photographer charges $2,000 per 12-hour wedding photography package.

Most full time professional wedding photographers will be able to book 35 or more weddings per year, if not more. So if my maths is correct, based on an average booking of $2,000 per wedding, the potential income for a wedding photographer doing 35 weddings a year is $70,000 (before taxes).

This figure ($70,000) is significantly higher than the US median household income of $60,000.

I know many photographers who book 40+ weddings per calendar year. Do the math! I don’t know about you but to me anyway, I think wedding photographers (can) make good money.

How much do wedding photographers make per wedding?

The answer to this question really depends on so many variables. If we assume that the average wedding photographer charges $2,000 per 12-hour wedding photography package, then this will serve as a baseline for calculating profitability. That is, after expenses are subtracted from income, you are left with profit.

In a previous section of this blog post, I calculated that I work on average, 26 hours per wedding. This figure is broken down into the following areas:

  • 3 hours on customer communication and administration.
  • 12 hours onsite on the wedding day.
  • 2 hours on getting to the wedding and back.
  • 1 hour selecting keeping images.
  • 8 hours editing.

To be honest, these numbers are very conservative. I have deliberately chosen to exclude the following tasks:

  • Calibrating each of my Nikon D750 bodies with each individual lens using FoCal Pro (1.5 hours).
  • Charging batteries (takes a few minutes, charges overnight).
  • Checking that my each of my Nikon D750 bodies have two memory cards (takes a few seconds).
  • Formatting memory cards (takes less than 5 minutes).
  • Cleaning lenses (a few minutes each lens).
  • Giving my Nikon D750 bodies a quick sensor clean (less than a minute).
  • Ingesting the memory cards and waiting for all files to copy across safely to my desktop (1 hour).
  • Ensuring that all files have coped securely to my Drobo (done overnight).
  • Uploading JPEG files to Pixieset (10 minutes because I have a great fast internet connection).

As you can see, there is quite a bit of work involved in being a wedding photographer that I did not mention in the earlier section. As a wedding photographer, the time that you spend on these tasks are non-billable. But luckily, they don’t amount to too much time because the bulk of your time spent working is actually on the post-processing of the images.

The quicker you can turn these around, the more profitable you will be as a business. That is, the faster you can cull and edit, the more you will earn as a wedding photographer per wedding.

For example, I know from personal experience that it’ll take me at least 2 days to edit an entire set of wedding images from a 12-hour coverage day. The slower I work, the more I get distracted by YouTube and Facebook, the longer it will take me to finish the job. The longer I spend on this job, the less time I have to do other things and activities. These other things and activities could bring in potentially more work and income. But because I’m dragging my feet, I miss out on these opportunities.

But for argument’s sake, let’s assume that I’m working efficiently and that for this particular wedding, I was paid $2,000 all up for 12 hours of photography coverage.

This is how much I made per hour from this wedding: $2,000/(3+12+2+1+8) = $76.92.

And if I had halved my editing time to 4 hours, this is how much I would have earned per hour from the same wedding: $90.91.

But wait … we haven’t even discussed expenses yet.

What expenses do wedding photographers have?

Your business expenses as a wedding photographer will depend on you. Here are just a few expenses to consider before you go down the rabbit hole of being a wedding photographer:

  • Equipment
  • Insurance
  • Materials including packaging and office supplies
  • Consultation expenses
  • Software purchases and ongoing licenses
  • Internet and website expenses
  • Accountant and/or bookkeeping
  • Automobile expenses
  • Taxes
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Business fees including credit card merchant fees

To give you an idea how much it costs for me to run my wedding photography business, here is the breakdown:

  • Photography equipment (sunk cost): $15,000
  • Dropbox: $10 per month
  • One-off software purchases (e.g., JPEGmini pro, Photo Mechanic, Final Cut Pro X, Blogstomp): $1,000
  • Google suite: $5 per email account per month
  • 6×4” photo printing: $10 per wedding
  • Credit card merchant fees: 2.3% per transaction
  • Webhosting: $13 per month
  • Adobe CC subscription (Lightroom + Photoshop): $25 per month
  • Facebook advertising: $200-300 per month
  • Online wedding album proofing: $7 per new album,
  • Cloud image gallery: $8 per month
  • Associate photographer: $400 per wedding
  • Consultation expenses: $600 annually (I like champagne)
  • Packaging materials: $300 annually
  • Parking: $2,000 annually
  • Sample wedding albums: $550 every 2-3 years

How does one become a full time wedding photographer?

I feel as though this is a two-part question. First of all:

  • How do you become a wedding photographer? And secondly;
  • How do you make it a full time income earning career?

Being a wedding photographer is the easy part. You simply tell people that you are a wedding photographer.

I’m not joking. It is that simple. And when you do so, the other person will usually ask you for funny/crazy stories. Everyone has a crazy wedding story to tell.

There is no need to go to college as no formal education is required to be a wedding photographer. In all honesty, being a wedding photographer is telling others that you offer wedding photography as a professional service. This includes using the appropriate social media channels to promote your photography work and what makes you different to the competition. It involves creating a website to showcase your portfolio, provide information, and to capture email leads. It also includes making friends with industry peers so that you may help each other out.

The answer to the second part of the two-part question is significantly more complicated.

You just have to do the work, pull the long hours, take on the feedback, learn, repeat.

Show up. Do the work. Eat shit. Show up. Do the work. Eat shit. Repeat a thousand times. Show up. Do the work. Eat shit.

I was paid $300 for my first wedding. The second wasn’t a whole lot more. I jumped for joy when I finally charged over $1,000 for a wedding. Each step took time, it took lots of blogging, lots of understanding what people want and trying to replicate it in my work etc.

You too can earn $70,000 per year from being a wedding photographer. You can earn even more. How much you make per year as a wedding photographer is up to you.

What equipment do I need to be a wedding photographer?

Finally! I can talk about camera equipment! This is after all a website called ‘What Lens Should I Get’. Ironically, the equipment is the most unimportant part of being a wedding photographer.

I’m not saying that equipment isn’t important. It is! Having a f/4 lens and having a f/2.8 lens can make a huge difference in image quality. Similarly, having a camera that produces clean images at ISO6400 versus one that doesn’t can make a significant difference in image quality. However, being a successful wedding photographer has little to do with image quality.

The gear doesn’t matter in getting clients. The gear has no impact on how much you can charge per wedding. But the gear does matter in determining how easy or how hard it is for you to get the shot 100% of the time.

As a Sony photographer, I recommend this kit:

  • 2x A7 III bodies
  • 4x 64GB UHS-II memory cards
  • 4x FZ-100 batteries
  • Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
  • Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA
  • Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
  • Sony FE 28mm f/2 with 21mm Ultra-Wide Conversion Lens

As a Canon photographer, I recommend this kit:

  • 2x 5D Mark III/IV bodies
  • 2x 64GB CF memory cards
  • 2x 64GB UHS-II memory cards
  • 4x LP-E6N batteries
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L
  • Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art
  • Canon EF 135mm f/2L
  • 2x 600EX II RT

As a Nikon photographer, I recommend this kit:

  • 2x D750 bodies
  • 4x 64GB UHS-II memory cards
  • 4x EN-EL15 batteries
  • AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 ED
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
  • Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art
  • Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art
  • Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art
  • 1x SB-5000, 1x SB-700

As a Fujifilm photographer, I recommend this kit:

  • 2x X-T2 bodies
  • 4x 64GB UHS-II memory cards
  • 4x NP-W126S
  • XF16mmF1.4 R WR
  • XF23mmF1.4 R
  • XF35mmF2 R WR
  • XF56mmF1.2 R
  • XF90mmF2 R LM WR
  • XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
  • 2x EF-X500

Can you tell that I am very much a prime lens photographer? By all means, substitute what ever lens combination you wish. However, from my experience, always have two professional level camera bodies with you at all times.

I hate editing photos. What can I do?

Being among the action on a wedding day is very different to sitting in front of a computer screen and making tiny adjustments to every single image. Trust me, I’ve photographed over 253 weddings and probably 100+ engagement sessions. I have edited my fair share of images.

I know quite a few wedding photographers who prefer the action versus the post processing. So if you’re in a similar camp, this section is for you.

In my earlier example, I worked out my hourly rate based on a few assumptions:

  • I spent 2 hours traveling to and back from the wedding.
  • I spent 12 hours with the couple on their wedding day.
  • I spent an hour selecting keeping images.
  • I spent a total of 3 hours on customer communications and admin.
  • I spent 8 hours photo editing.

This came to a grand total of 26 hours spent on the work, whilst getting paid $2,000.

What if I had outsourced the photo editing, thus reducing my photo editing time to ZERO?

Let’s have a look.

Income stays the same: $2,000.
Outsourcing expense: $300.
Time spent: 18 hours
Hourly rate: ($2000-300)/(3+12+2+1) = $94.44

Hang on a minute there!

You’re telling me that by paying someone else to edit the photos, and despite it costing me $300 (that I can claim as a legitimate business expense), I am earning a higher hourly wage? How is that even possible?

Yes I am saying exactly that.

Not only are you saving time (8 hours based on my example) but you are making more money per wedding.

If editing a thousand images across 2-3 days feels like putting teeth, outsource it!

Where do you find an image editor for a thousand images for $300? Try Plus Minus Collective. They work with photographers from around the world in creating beautiful edits for them and their clients. In essence, they are a digital editing service that saves you time.

Are there full-time wedding photography jobs that come with a salary?

I just jumped onto ZipRecruiter and typed in ‘Wedding Photographer’. The search results indicate that full time wedding photography jobs do exist, albeit are very rare.<m/ark> Salaries range depending on the size of the studio and where they are located within the US. New York, Los Angeles, and Denver were the top cities with wedding photography jobs.

I spent an hour pouring over each job listing on ZipRecruiter. My findings are as follows:

  • Only studios were capable of offering a full time wedding photography job. If you don’t know what a photography studio business model is, it is basically one focused on volume.
  • Experience is a must. No studio specified how many weddings you need to have photographed to meet this criterion but based on my own experience from hiring others, I need to see at least 15 full weddings to demonstrate that you can work with almost any lighting environment.
  • A minimum contractual commitment to 30 weddings per year.
  • The role overlaps into other areas of photography that the studio provides: engagement sessions, family sessions, maternity sessions.
  • BYO professional level photography equipment.

In most cases, the majority of wedding photographers seeking another wedding photographer did so on a freelancing basis where a set number of hours per wedding were specified with an agreed upon hourly rate.

How to build a wedding photography portfolio when you don’t have any wedding photography experience

Experience matters. It always has and it always will. Customers want to feel reassured that their wedding photographer will know what to do and how to make them look and feel great.

Showing experience in something you are new to is difficult but not impossible. In fact, every single wedding photographer had to start from scratch so you know that it is highly achievable.

This was how I built my wedding photography portfolio from ground zero:

  1. I took photographs every week, of people, of landscapes during sunrise/sunset, of people during sunset.
  2. I shared these images on my blog, on my personal Facebook page, on Instagram.
  3. Repeat step #1.
  4. Repeat step #2.
  5. Repeat steps #1-4.

You will notice that I didn’t photograph any weddings in the beginning.

I couldn’t.

I didn’t know anyone getting married and nobody was willing to take on a complete newbie. Instead, I demonstrated that I knew how to compose, I demonstrated that I knew how to use different lighting, I demonstrated that I was competent at editing images. And I did this by consistently going out to photograph people and things and then showing the work to who ever wanted to see.

It took me a year to build up a portfolio of non-wedding related images. At the time, I still had a regular 9-5 so photography was still a hobby. It was the perfect side-hustle.

How did I eventually get wedding photography images to show to my first wedding photography client?

I did this by second shooting for other wedding photographers and this was only possibly by the portfolio of random images that I had built.

Show up. Do the work. Eat shit. Show up. Do the work. Eat shit. Repeat a thousand times. Show up. Do the work. Eat all the shit.

How long does it take to get your first wedding photography client?

From the first time I second shot my first wedding, I booked my first wedding photography client within 3 months. A groom-to-be was looking for a wedding photographer within a Flickr group and I took the initiative to send him a private message. I showed him my portfolio, asked what he wanted, and asked what his budget was. He offered me $300 and I accepted. I was over the moon! I had just booked my first ever wedding photography client.

Now your mileage may vary depending on where you are. If you living in a small town, there may be less opportunities within a 60-mile radius. If you’re in a large metropolitan city, you will find more people looking for a wedding photographer.

With localized Facebook groups, you can go directly where potential customers are.

If my memory serves me correctly, the first wedding where I charged more than $1,000 took quite some time. Once again, I used the Internet to my advantage by contributing regularly to a particular niche forum. One day, I came across a post where one of the members were asking for recommendations for a wedding photographer. Naturally, I sent this member a DM. It took some convincing and back-and-forth, but within a few weeks of initiating contact, she had confirmed me as her wedding photographer.

If you are willing to charge less, you will find that you can book your first wedding photography client sooner than later.

BONUS: 5 pieces of software that revolutionized my wedding photography workflow

  1. JPEGmini pro
  2. Photo Mechanic
  3. Blogstomp
  4. FoCal Pro
  5. Pixellu SmartAlbums 2

JPEGmini pro compresses JPEG files to a third of its usual file size. But not just that – it does so in a way that doesn’t reduce the image quality of your image. I run all my final JPEG files through JPEGmini pro prior to uploading them to Pixieset. It not only saves me time when uploading them but also my client’s time when they download them.

Photo Mechanic makes the ingestion process and culling process a breeze.

I use Blogstomp for just one purpose – to prepare images for blogging. I use it to batch resize, create diptychs, and most importantly, rename each image for SEO purposes.

FoCal Pro ensures that my images that come out of my DSLR and lenses are perfect. Almost every single lens will require micro adjustment across time. If you don’t take the proper time and care to micro adjust each lens with each camera body, it will show in your photography (especially if you like to shoot with wide apertures).

If you offer wedding albums, SmartAlbums is the go-to software to quickly put together a design for your clients to review. Pay for the cloud proofing solution for an even more streamlined process.

Related reading

  1. 9 tips for photographing your first wedding
Will Sony FE Sigma Art lenses perform better than EF-mount Sigma Art lenses with MC-11

Will Sony FE Sigma Art lenses perform better than EF-mount Sigma Art lenses with MC-11

If you have been using the Sigma MC-11 adapter with your Sigma Art lenses in Canon mount, you may be wondering if the native Sigma FE Art lenses perform better with your Sony mirrorless camera. I was certainly curious and so I spent a few hours doing this research. Here is a complete list of Sigma FE Art lenses for Sony E-mount:

In this article:

  1. Are Sigma lenses any good?
  2. Sigma FE Art series for Sony mirrorless cameras
  3. What is eye AF and how does it work?
  4. Which Sony cameras have eye AF?
  5. Initial reactions to Sigma FE Art lenses for Sony E-mount
  6. Canon EF to Sony E-mount lens adapters
  7. Nikon F to Sony E-mount lens adapters
  8. Eye AF: Sigma FE vs Sigma EF (Canon) with MC-11
  9. Conclusion: why I won’t be buying any Sigma FE Art lenses

Are Sigma lenses any good?

I remember my first Sigma lens – it wasn’t very accurate and it tended to focus hunt a lot and exhibit front/rear-focus. But when the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (non-Art) did nail focus, it produced a far better result than the Canon and Nikon 50mm f/1.4 counterparts. In fact, because I switched camps from Canon to Nikon, back to Canon and once again to Nikon (URGH!), I owned this Sigma 50mm f/1.4 on both Canon EF and Nikon F-mount variants. Like the Canon 50L, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 had good copies and atrocious copies.

I should also note that I only started calibrating each of my lenses with my DSLR camera in 2017 ..

So when Sigma released their Art series, I got out my wallet.

Ever since they were released for Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras, I have loved Sigma Art lenses.

After buying my first Sigma Art lens (50mm f/1.4 DG HSM), others quickly followed (35mm f/1.4 DG HSM, 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM). They were significantly cheaper than the Nikon and Canon counterparts and autofocus speed and accuracy nor sharpness ever an issue with the Sigma Art lens range.

The only reason why I never bought the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM was because I scored the Nikon Af-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G second hand at a bargain price.

In the past, Sigma lenses had a reputation for having inaccurate focus. The Art series changed that. Plus, after meticulously calibrating each lens with each of my Nikon D750 bodies before any paid assignment, front-focusing and back-focusing issues were a thing of the past.

But not all my experiences with Sigma Art lenses have been positive. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art was notorious for having a loose barrel. I had to send the lens back to Sigma in order to have it fixed.

On another occasion, I owned the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art zoom lens to have it die on me in less than a month. When I took it in for repairs, I was told that it was because I had dropped the lens. I hadn’t. I mean, I’m rough with my gear when I work but I was 100% sure that the lens had never been dropped.

On a more positive note however, I have photographed many weddings and engagement session with the Sigma Art lenses in the rain and none have failed on me – despite the Sigma Art lenses have no weather sealing.

Meet the Sigma Art Sony E-mount FE lenses

Sigma were one of the first third party lens manufacturers to announce native Sony E-mount FE lenses.

 

There was much excitement within the Sony photography community. Myself included.

We knew that the quality of the lenses would be worthy of the Art series  label. The APS-C lens (a6500, a6300, a6000) Sigma 16mmf/1.4 DC DN had been getting consistent positive reviews. And that wasn’t even an Art series lens. So the excitement was justified.

Another reason for the hype was because native Sony FE lenses were inherently very expensive. Before buying the Sony a7 III, I had never paid so much for a f/1.8 lens in my life. For example, my Sony Sonnar T* FE f/1.8 ZA costs $898 from B&H while a Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA would set be back $1,498. That’s a lot of money for a f/1.8 lens!

After a wait that seemed like forever, the first Sony FE Sigma Art lenses started to trickle into the world. Considering the price of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art ($949 from B&H), it is a significant one.

Quality-aside. Pricing-aside. There is one more reason why Sigma FE Art lenses are popular.

It’s all about Sony’s eye AF.

What is eye AF and how does it work?

Coming from DSLR photography, eye autofocus was a complete game changer. It just made photographing people at events so much easier. Quite literally, I am pointing the camera and pressing a button. An EVF to help get the right exposure and eye-AF – this is what photographer’s dreams are made of. Literally.

 

 

Which Sony cameras have eye AF?

Based on my research, eye AF is available on these Sony mirrorless cameras:

  • Sony A6000
  • Sony A6300
  • Sony A6500
  • a99 II
  • Sony a7
  • Sony a7 II
  • Sony a7 III
  • Sony a7R II
  • Sony a7R III
  • Sony a7S
  • Sony a7S II
  • Sony a9

However, not all of these Sony mirrorless cameras have eye AF with continuous tracking (AF-C).

Eye AF with continuous tracking means that once your Sony camera has acquired your subject’s eye, even if they move, the camera will continue to lock onto your subject’s eye. These cameras have been highlighted for your reference.

 

Initial reactions

One of the biggest reasons why DSLR photographers such as myself switched from Nikon and Canon was because of Sony’s ingenious implementation of eye autofocus.

Other camera systems had facial recognition and super fast autofocus (Olympus OM-D) but to date, no other camera system has implemented eye autofocus

Even the new Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless digital cameras do not have a similar feature to Sony’s eye AF.

Eye AF is a game changer.

Paired with the very attractive price point of the Sony a7 III, it became a no-brainer game changer for many professional photographers.

Imagine not having to think about focusing.

Imagine how much more time and effort you could spend on giving your clients and/or subjects a better experience,

As I said, eye AF and A7 III is a no-brainer game changer.

I thought Sigma was developing a whole new line of Sigma Art lenses for maximum Sony FE compatibility. I was really excited seeing as I was on the edge of buying my first Sony mirrorless camera (the a7 III).

My excitement somewhat died completely when a friend revealed to me that the new Sigma FE Art lenses were simply an optimized version of a MC-11 and a Sigma Art lens. In my disbelief, I searched the Internet and the photos of pre-production models of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art confirmed my friend’s comment.

This experience of mine was shared within many other photographers. We all had high hopes for Sigma FE Art lenses. Now, instead of ‘hurry up and take my money’, there were concerns.

I think we can all agree that the Sony a9 is a beast of a camera. However, it wasn’t enough to push me across the line to give up on my trusty Nikon D750. You see, for the longest time, I believed that Sony’s Achilles’ heel was its lackluster lens line up. But this was based on outdated information.

Sony actually has a very impressive lens line up (click here to see the complete list).

But native Sony FE f/1.4 fast primes were very expensive and for the longest time, I looked down on f/1.8 prime lenses (mostly because f/1.8 prime lenses for Canon and Nikon were not good enough for professional work IMO).

Then came along adapters.

Canon EF to Sony E-mount lens adapters

There are only 2 worth mentioning:

  1. Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-mount T Smart adapter
  2. Sigma MC-11 EF mount converter for Sony E-mount

Both work but you should be aware that by introducing a third party adapter between a lens and your camera increases the chance for errors.

 

 

 

The general consensus is that the Sigma MC-11 works best for Sigma lenses. If you have existing Canon EF Sigma Art lenses, the MC-11 comes highly recommended based on multiple reviews. However, the pricier Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-mount T Smart adapter (click here to check current prices on Amazon)

 

For videographers, I would recommend sticking with native Sony FE lenses if you rely on autofocus and focus tracking.

Nikon F-mount to Sony E-mount lens adapters

They do exist but to be honest, nothing worth writing about or trying.

Sorry Nikon users (myself included).

Eye AF: Sigma FE Art vs Sigma EF Art using MC-11 adapter

Optical image quality and sharpness have never been an issue with Sigma Art lenses. The same applies to Sigma FE Art lenses for Sony E-mount.

But if you have been using the Sigma MC-11 with Sigma Art lenses in Canon EF mount, you may be curious to know whether the new native Sigma FE Art lenses perform better.

I found these reviews for you:

 

 

 

Conclusion: why I won’t be getting any Sigma FE Art lenses

I still have my Nikon D750 and lenses. They have served me well for the past 3 years and I don’t see a reason to discard them at a big loss.

I also have 2x Sony a7 III bodies. Initially, my intention was to switch completely across to Sony for photography and sell my Nikon gear to recoup some finances. But, as much as I enjoy the features of the Sony a7 III, I prefer using my Nikon D750 for stills.

Am I going to sell my Sony a7 III bodies then?

No.

Why Dan? You said you prefer to use your Nikon D750 for taking stills.

Well here’s the thing.

Because of the a7 III, I have come to love film making. Having access to 4K 30fps, dual card slots, and a very smart inbuilt autofocus system removed many of the barriers of film making for me. And so, that is why I will be keeping my Sony a7 III bodies and the accompanying Sony FE lenses.

Yes. I own a number of Sony FE lenses:

  • Sony Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA (yes, I bought this APS-C lens thinking it was a full frame FE lens ..)
  • Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
  • Sony Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 ZA
  • Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
  • Sony FE 85mm f/1.8

There is not a single Sigma FE Art series lens in my possession. This is because I prefer to film videos on my Sony mirrorless cameras. From reading reviews, I gathered that no matter how optically perfect Sigma Art lenses were, I needed lenses that would work 100% of the time. Hence, I stuck with native Sony FE lenses.

Will I change my mind the future? Perhaps. But for now, I am actually very surprised by the performance of the Sony FE lenses and have not missed having f/1.4 fast primes one bit.

But that’s just me – my situation is probably very different to yours.

If you use your Sony mirrorless camera for predominantly photography, you probably have every reason to buy all the Sigma FE Art lenses.

PS – I wasn’t having much joy with custom Sony Picture Profiles until buying EOSHD. Seriously, worth every penny!

9 tips for photographing your first wedding

9 tips for photographing your first wedding

C ongratulations on booking your first wedding photography assignment! It’s exciting isn’t it? I remember how it felt to get my first wedding client – the pay was peanuts but the fact that a complete stranger was willing to entrust me with their big day? That felt phenomenal.

Weddings are amazing events where you as the photographer must wear many hats – portraiture, photojournalism/ (similar to street photography), people management, fashion photography, problem solving, and product photography.</mark.

Experience matters when it comes to photographing a wedding and luckily for you, I am going to share with you 9 tips to help you photograph your first wedding whilst avoiding costly and irreparable mistakes.

9 tips for photographing your first wedding

  1. Dress up rather than dress down.
  2. Know how to use your equipment (learn to use your flash!).
  3. Attend at least 2-3 weddings before you photograph your first wedding client so that you know what happens when and where.
  4. Set clear client expectations and boundaries.
  5. Back up every single file.
  6. Don’t just scout the location, scout it during the times that you will be there (e.g., midday sun, afternoon, evening) so that you may get a sense of the lighting conditions and how to best work with/around it.
  7. Prepare spare batteries, spare memory cards, spare change of clothes etc.
  8. I can’t believe this needs to be mentioned but PHOTOGRAPH IN RAW, not jpeg.
  9. Practice your small talk skills.

#1 Dress up rather than dress down: Nobody will ever tell you that you’re dressed too casual. But they’re all thinking it. In fact, my closest friends who are high end wedding planners tell me that this is the number one complaint or request from their clients. That is, they want a wedding photographer who dresses up and looks the part. Dress up rather than dress down. Jeans and sneakers – don’t do it.

 

#2 Know how to use your equipment: I am embarrassed to say that I’ve made this mistake many times. When the Fujifilm X-T1 was released, I went out and bought the entire kit: two X T-1 bodies, XF56mmF1.2 R, XF23mmF1.4 R, XF 35mmF1.4 R, XF14mmF2.8 R. I couldn’t wait to try them in the field. The problem was, I had to learn an entirely new camera system, having spent the previous few months using the Olympus OM-D series. Let’s just say there were moments at the first wedding with my Fujifilm kit where I wish I had spent the time to know my gear better.

By all means, buy all the new gear you want but don’t make my mistake. Learn to use your flash, your camera, and your lenses so that when you need to get the shot, you’re ready instead of fiddling with unfamiliar menus.

#3 Get some wedding experience in you before you photograph your first wedding: Taking images is the easy part of being a wedding photographer. Knowing where to be and knowing when a particular moment is about to happen so that you can be ready is how impactful wedding images are made. For example, what angle is best to capture the groom’s expression when the bride walks down the aisle? If you’re photographing a wedding by yourself, where is the best spot to capture both the bride’s entrance and the groom’s reaction?

If you have never photographed a wedding before, I highly recommend that you get some experience prior to taking on your first client. Click here to find out how you can get wedding photography experience before you shoot your first wedding.

#4 Set client expectations and boundaries and set them early: This is less photography-related and 100% related to how to operate a business. Most couples getting married are getting married for the first time. To them, it is a whole new world and they have nothing to refer to in terms of expectations – thus making their expectations quite often unrealistic.

 

What are some expectations and boundaries to set from the very beginning? How about (i) when you will accept calls and respond to text messages and emails – and when you will not accept phone calls (ii) when their enquiry becomes a concrete booking; and (iii) how long it will take for you to edit and deliver them with their wedding photos.

By setting clear client expectations and boundaries, you can avoid stressful situations down the road./

#5 Back up every single file: Back up. Back up. Back up! The very first thing I do when I get home from a wedding, no matter what hour it is, is transfer every single memory card across to my laptop. Sometimes, I’ll even sit there and wait for each memory card to successfully copy across before taking a shower. Once Photo Mechanic (seriously, buy this piece of software) has finished ingested all the files, I then copy the folder across to my storage unit – a Drobo 4-bay array. After I have a second copy of all the files safely on my Drobo, I will make a duplicate onto an external hard drive for an extra level of redundancy.

 

#6 Scout scout scout: Before you photograph your first wedding, I highly suggest that you go to see each location. But not just to see the location at any time but to see the location at the same time as you will be there on the wedding day. This will not only give you a lay of the land (e.g., vantage points, access points, where to park) as well as the quality of light so that you can practice in the months leading up to the wedding.

 

#7 Bring spares of everything: Batteries in colder months die quicker. Memory cards can often fail mid-shoot. Cameras can fail! Do whatever you can to reduce risk – and this includes a change of shoes, socks, shirt, pants, dress etc.

#8 Shoot in raw: If you are contemplating to photograph an entire wedding in JPEG, please watch the following videos.

 

 

 

#9 Practice your interpersonal skills every single day: I cannot stress this enough! Before taking photography as a serious professional, I was incredible shy. I hated meeting new people because I was afraid of how they would ‘see’ me. I forced myself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Slowly but surely, my confidence in meeting new people grew and my fear of awkward pauses in conversations lessened.

When you are a wedding photographer, you are not selling images. You are selling who you are; what you bring to the story, how your approach helps your clients look and feel great. You are selling confidence.

Common mistakes that all starting out wedding photographers make

I cared more about my camera equipment than learning how to be the best possible wedding photographer – and when I look back, I get it.

Most wedding photographers start off as photography enthusiasts – I certainly had no aspirations on being a wedding photographer!

And as all photography enthusiasts know – camera equipment is addictive.

Having the latest and greatest is a never-ending internal battle.

“Should I buy the f/2.8 or the f/4 version?”

“IS or non-IS?”

“Will I see a difference between this 85mm f/1.8 and the f/1.4 version?”

Do these questions sound familiar?

Like you, I loved my camera equipment and when I took on my first wedding photography assignment, I had all the cool gear:

  • 1x Canon 5D MK II
  • 1x Canon 1D MKIII
  • 1x Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
  • 1x Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
  • 1x Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
  • 1x Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L
  • 2x Canon Speedlite 430EX II
  • 1x Lowepro CompuTrekker AW

PS – The only thing in this kit that is still in production is the camera bag.

This was back in 2010 so the gear list is quite old – but back in the day, I was proud to have this kit.

And that was the problem.

I was so fixated on what my gear could do that I didn’t focus on how I could use said gear to produce the best experience possible for my first wedding photography client.

In fact, it wasn’t a few years later that I realized that it was the client experience that was the number one priority – not the photos themselves!

The number one and most common mistake that beginner wedding photographers make is understanding what role they play.

Earlier I said that weddings are amazing events where you as the photographer must wear many hats – portraiture, photojournalism, people management, fashion photography, problem solving, and product photography.

I’ve highlighted the main roles.

People management.

When I photographed my first wedding, I went into it with a set of images that I wanted to achieve (selfishly, for my portfolio). I was so set on getting this images that I didn’t care about much else.

That was my big mistake.

You see, weddings are essentially expensive parties.

Parties involve people.

People behave randomly.

There is a great quote by Maya Angelou, “I’ve learnt that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

No matter how great your photographs may be – your success as a business lies in how people remember you.

And how do people remember you?

In how you make their wedding day for them, their family and their friends, a positive experience.

Let me give you an example.

I was photographing an outdoor wedding in the late afternoon one winter. After the wedding ceremony, as the sun was quickly dipping, I had to quickly get through 15 family portrait combinations before the light completely disappeared. In between each group is usually a few minutes of confusion and people moving in and out – this, as you will discover, is completely normal.

Knowing that each family photo had to be on point, my instinct was to yell at people and get them done as quick as possible. But luckily, I had been a wedding photographer for 3 years and knew that yelling at people wasn’t going to make things any faster and more importantly, would make me look like a cranky bossy photographer. Nobody likes a cranky bossy photographer.

Instead, I waited. And while the bride and groom waited, I noticed that the bride was cold. So I offered her my jacket.

To this day, she and her entire family still remembers this – not the photos.

People remember by how you made them feel.

Never forget this.

One versus two cameras

I dropped my 5DMK3 onto concrete at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. It died on the spot.

My Nikon D3 shutter died 3-hours into my wedding day.

I left my 5D in the rain doing a time-lapse.

The mirror on my Nikon D750 locked up once and failed to do anything.

I have had cameras fail on me and I have always had a back up camera with me.

I suggest that you do the same.

One card slot versus two card slots

At the time of writing, Nikon unveiled its mirrorless cameras Z6 and Z7. The online photography community has been blasting Nikon for their obvious oversight – having only one memory card slot in each camera. Storm in a teacup?

Having two card memory slots is beneficial but ONLY if both memory card slots are set to be in redundancy mode.

Before dual memory card slots, cameras had only one card slot. Before digital photography, photographers used film.

Not a single wedding client of mine has ever cared about my equipment. They hired me for my ability to understand what they wanted and they were impressed with my vision.

By all means, use the best technology available to you. If it means stretching your budget, do so. But in all honesty, I think wedding photographers give this topic way too much attention it deserves.

How to get wedding photography experience before you shoot your first wedding

If you’re thinking of jumping head first into your first wedding without having attended a single wedding before in your life – may I try to change your mind?

Weddings are messy.

People are erratic.

Shit happens.

Even if you have a schedule, life has a way of throwing said schedule out the window.

As someone who has been a wedding photographer since 2010, every wedding I have attended as the hired professional has had something go wrong.

It is inevitable.

When shit hits the fan, it is up to your wits to keep things moving.

When the bride is having a meltdown and questioning the entire marriage, you need to know what to do.

When the groom is struggling to do his tie or fold his pocket square – you need to know what to do.

When the mother of the groom is stressing out the bride – you need to now what to do.

Sometimes, doing nothing is the best thing to do. But without being put in a similar situation before, you will be caught off-guard.

As a complete newbie to wedding photography, how do you get wedding photography experience?

Offer to assist a local wedding photographer that you genuinely respect.

Offer to help them with all the driving on the day. Offer to help help them park and mind the car on the wedding day. Offer to help to make sure that all their expensive equipment is not left behind on-location.

Offer to help them.

The biggest mistake that newbie wedding photographers make is trying to build their portfolio over the shoulder of another professional.

Don’t.

Offer to help someone by giving them value instead of a problem.

I used to get weekly emails from photographers wanting to second shoot for me. I never bothered to reply because they were thinking of themselves before my clients and I. Why should I spend my time babying someone I don’t know?

The key to getting wedding photography experience is by offering to solve another wedding photographer’s problem – even if it is a trivial one (especially if it is a trivial one!). Across time, you will build trust and before you know it, maybe you’ll even be tasked to taking some photos.

When I trained Jack, I didn’t even allow him to bring a camera for the first 3 weddings. I wanted him to see what was going instead of worrying about taking photos.

Wedding photography is more about people skills than photography. So get as much exposure to this before you photograph your first wedding.