The Business of Wedding Photography is an extensive subject, best
answered by a team of professional wedding photographers, who also
happen to be star photo.net members. In this article, these
professional photographers have contributed advice and personal
experience gained from running wedding businesses. Not only have they
provided advice on how to make a photo portfolio, but they've also
provided examples of wedding photography, such as wedding dresses,
flower girls, and ceremonies. Whether you are just entering the field
of wedding photography, or are a seasoned professional, the tips and
insights shared here should be helpful with your own business.
We asked our panel of experts the following questions:
In your experience, what makes for a good portfolio
Williams: Consistent work, and really insightful images
that tell a story.
Bob Bernardo - LA area disabled
Wegwart: Each image needs to be able to stand on its own merit
while maintaining its place in the overall feel of your work.
Bernardo: We use a selling technique, which we
refer to as Wedding Photography 101. We spend a lot of time showing
the clients why we took a particular photograph and explain the
lighting and posing. We also look at B&W photos and sepia to get a
feel for what the client really is looking for. In a sense, we are
teaching the clients about the art of wedding photography. Most of the
time, when clients come over they will zoom through the books. If you
don't stop them and make a personal connection, they most likely won't
book the wedding with you, even if your work is of top quality. Since
most wedding couples are just looking, we take the time to educate
them. Last year, only one couple did not book with us. This year,
everyone who consulted with us booked. We are looking at completing
about 100 weddings by the end of the year.
Ascough: Consistency and individuality. The best photographers can
be recognized from their images. The average photographer tends to
copy and never develop their own identity.
Ohara: Images that show an identifiable style, whether it's by
image content, use of color, processing, and other
Root: Showing the clients individual images that demonstrate your
style, in addition to collections of images that show the results from
a whole wedding. It's not necessary to show every single image from an
example wedding, but 100 or so, enough to show the complete day. From
the client's point of view, it demonstrates an honesty and
confidence in your style and images.
Ball: I agree with Nadine and Marc and would have said exactly the
same thing, consistent work with a unique style and technique.
Mowery: Size seems to matter. I show 11x14 prints in my
portfolio. I also show clients a slideshow with music, and
that seems to seal the deal.
Erb: Being in a relaxed setting. I always have my clients sit on
my couch in my living room and I get them a cup of tea or something to
drink. We chat for awhile and whenever they are ready, we look
at some photographs.
Images to include in your photography portfolio
How many and what types of images do you include in your
Williams: Generally enough to tell the story of a wedding
from start to finish.
Wegwart: A selection of about 50+, as long as you are covering
most of a wedding day.
Bernardo: Usually one or two books: the traditional and the modern
photojournalism style. We also like to show enlargements, up to
40x60, framed, retouched, sprayed, and in some cases canvas
mounted. This shows the clients what can be expected from their
wedding. Rarely do they ask to see more albums.
Ascough: In my studio portfolio I only
show complete weddings. Online I present a wide selection of images
different weddings showing all aspects of the day.
Ohara: A selection of "greatest hits" and several complete
weddings, either in slideshow or album format. I don't think number of
images is important, as long as you show enough for a potential client
to place your style.
Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA
Root: I show a selection of my favorite individual images that
also best illustrate my style, which is ultimately what the client
is hiring me for. I also show 100 or so images each from two or three
weddings that give the client a good idea of what they can expect.
Ball: I filled a proof album with a very large variety of
different brides, environments, detail and group images, portraits,
candids, etc. I selected images that evoke emotion of some kind, as
well as seem to attract the kind of brides I want to work with. Over
the years, I update the album, adding some newer images, and removing
older ones. I tend to keep the photos that couples ooh and ahh over
every time. With the large variety, the couples see weddings in
different lighting situations and seasons. In addition, I show them
two finished albums of real weddings that are almost duplicates of a
couple's final album. Framed prints are displayed on the wall as
Mowery: I show photographs relevant to the job I am
pursuing. Ten images is more than enough. I want to show my very
Erb: I have about 24 prints in a leather book, which I show along
with a few albums. The photographs are representative of what I do,
showing a variety of styles from photojournalism to still life, with a
few traditional portraits thrown in the mix.
When meeting with a prospective client, how do you convince them
to hire you?
Williams: I don't. Either they want my style and approach and see
its insightful and emotional power, or they don't. If they don't, then
it's best that I not convince them of anything.
Wegwart: I don't try to convince them. The first thing I advise
potential clients of is to choose someone whose images inspire them
and with whom they feel at ease. Both of those aspects will determine
if they will be happy with the end results. Next, I share a few
slideshows of recent work and as they watch, chat with them about
their plans. Everything else is details.
Bernardo: We don't try to convince them. We also do not offer
anything special, such as a discount, to book the wedding. Usually
clients hardly ever book that day, but will book within a week. If we
haven't heard from them within a week, we always do a follow-up call
rather than email. Emails seem very cold to me, whereas a personal
phone call seems to let the wedding couple know we are sincerely
Ascough: I very rarely meet my clients before booking them.
Ohara: I am very "soft sell". I present my work, and when the
prospects are reviewing my work, I ask questions and invite
comments. The conversation takes off and in the process, I find out if
they are suited to me and vice versa. I assume my personality is
revealed at the same time. I don't even ask for the sale, as one is
Root: Oddly enough, I spend as much time making sure that I want
to be hired by the clients I am talking to. I learned really quickly
that it is not any fun working for people who were hiring me simply
for value or because they didn't feel like looking any further. I
want clients to hire me because they like what I bring to the
table. If they are looking for someone who approaches wedding
photography differently than I do, it's better for all of us to find
that out early on.
Ball: I want to work with clients who
really, really love me and my work. If I have to convince them, it
won't be a happy marriage (pun) of client/photographer.
Conrad Erb - Philadelphia, PA
Mowery: Thankfully, the photos speak for themselves. If you have
the talent, the proof is in the pudding.
Erb: I don't have any sales pitch. I ask the clients questions
wedding plans and converse with them about what they
are looking for. I make sure they have checked my references. Most of
the potential clients who check my references will be surprised by how
strong they are. Often, that is what makes them book
during the initial meeting. They have established that they like my
photos and that I am trustworthy with a solid history in making
couples happy (information obtained from my references). Some couples
will sign on the spot, and some take it home, think about it, and
call me in a few days. There's no point in putting pressure on
people. The entire experience should be relaxing, not