7 Tips for Wedding Portfolio Building

Following up from this post from last week called How to build your photography portfolio, I had a question from a reader about how aspiring wedding photographers should build their ‘folios. And it’s a great question because that’s a whole ‘nuther can of worms.

I did my first wedding for free. I knew the couple, we were comfortable with each other, and I was able to be free to experiment and learn on the job. If you don’t feel that you yet have your bearings to do a wedding solo, find a photographer who will hire you as a second shooter. You will get paid a bit and have an ‘in’ to the world of wedding photography where you can learn simple things like wedding time tables, how to interact and also how to get the shots without interacting.

When you feel you’ve got the basic tools to attempt your first wedding:

  1. Make sure that the couple knows that it’s your first
  2. Get a signed release to use the photos
  3. Definitely use a contract!
  4. If you’re doing it for free, make sure they know what the finished products will cost and possibly get that up front.
  5. If you’re going to charge, I would suggest charging a small enough fee for the couple to not expect too much (since it’s your first) but large enough to cover the cost of creating some sample products for yourself.
  6. Make sure you build an album or press printed book for yourself. This will be a product you can show further prospective couples. If you can, do a disk case, a canvas, a parents’ book…whatever products you want to sell after your weddings.
  7. Provide them with a watermarked web-ready disk so all their friends will know who you are and your business can grow from there!

So in short, building a portfolio of wedding work will take more work than a portrait portfolio but having one cracking good wedding should set you up to start booking ‘proper’ weddings. People don’t need to see ten different galleries before they choose whether to hire you or not.

  • Jana

    Elizabeth-do you know what a good amount is to charge for a first wedding? I’ve been approached to do one (my very first wedding), but she wants images on disc so she can design her own album. I am struggling with this big time!

  • elizabethhalford

    @Jana: I’d say a few hundred. Then use the money to create a beautiful press printed album you can share with prospective couples. I use templates from The Album Cafe and printing depends on where you are in the world.

  • Jana

    Thank you Elizabeth! Sounds great!
    (ps I just love all you do! found you through dps). you rock!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Elizabeth, I remember reading this post a while back and are now being asked to do peoples weddings off the back of other images I have done. My question revolves around insurance… I don’t really want to pass that cost onto a single couple as it would be very unfair of me to get them to cover a years protection for me for their one day. How have you managed the insurance side should anything go wrong? Thanks

  • Anonymous

    Well yes any photographer should have insurance before even leaving the house with their gear. It’s just part of the overhead of running the business. You’re not specifically charging a couple for insurance any more than you’re charging them for your gear or for the gigs you’ll be taking up in your hard drive. It’s just all wrapped up in the amount you have to charge to make a profit after everything that it actually costs you to do a wedding.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the reply. I expect that being a pro photographer you already have the liability and indemnity insurances in place that cover weddings as well as your other work. I was coming from a “first timer” point of view where I don’t expect to be doing many weddings at first and don’t have a client base that makes me need the insurance packages… the two insurances mentioned tally to over £200 (this I may add is without the gear insurance I am currently paying). Just seems to be a pretty steep price to pay out for a day but one that is – unfortunate for my profits – necessary!

  • Anonymous

    Oh yes I see. Well if you’re just doing it as a favour, you could get a signed statement that they can’t hold you liable for damage, but then if the damage is your fault, you’re…well…liable. And if you want to cover your back, you’ll have to pay for insurance.

  • Ok, that sounds a better plan! Thanks :)

  • How do you “watermark” your photos on a disc and make them ready to be uploaded on the internet. I’d rather do that then prints all the time