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SAS Becker

Don’t miss posts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 from SAS Becker about deciding when to transition to full-time shooting, how to budget for it, how to remarket yourself, and much more.
©SAS Becker

©SAS Becker

5. What might a weekly schedule might look like for a full-time wedding photographer?

In the perfect world, I would shoot three days a week, edit for two, schmooze for one, and do nothing else. Okay, realistically for a portrait/wedding shooter, one could hope to shoot for 3-4 days a week, mostly weekends. Do editing and post production during the traditional work day. Arrange to go out to at least one business-contact meeting a week outside of your client meetings. Make check-in calls to clients at night.

Business growth and development can happen in your off season; January and February are traditionally slow months if you are on the East Coast. You’ll need to plan your personal time off in advance. It is so important to keep up on the more mundane tasks when you are slower because (hopefully) you won’t have much time to prepare during your busy season. One of the hardest things I have found being self employed is that after a very productive shoot I feel like I deserve a vacation. Well, guess again… that’s when you should be planning for the next one. Which isn’t such a bad thing after all, when you love what you do.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: How do you budget your time? Do you set aside one day a week to follow up with clients or work on marketing?

SAS Becker moved into wedding and portrait photography after years as a successful stock, advertising, and editorial photographer. Check out her earlier posts about making the transition and budgeting for your new business. And don’t miss her next post on making the most of your precious time.
©SAS Becker

©SAS Becker

4. What are some ideas for what a photographer’s initial marketing push might look like, considering things such as re-branding, making new contacts, and re-energizing old ones.

I think (and many others would probably agree) that a photographer’s most important tool is their website, so start there. Look at a bunch of websites. (Here’s mine.) What do you like — or hate for that matter. Check out They have a lot of valuable information on do’s and don’t for websites. What is your look? How do you describe your work?

Once your site is completed, decide what the best way is to get as much traffic to it as possible. Online advertising and print ads are favorites. What about your local markets? Can you do a joint advertising project with local vendors? Maybe some cross-marketing with the local florist and bakery? Provide free pictures for a photo credit at places such as schools, churches, doctors offices, even the YMCA; anything might lead to work. I volunteered to shoot my daughter’s Girl Scout dance held at her elementary school. It may not have been the most glamorous event, but those girl scouts sure love pictures of themselves. It drove a ton of potential clients to my site, and I looked like a super mom at the same time. Unlike commercial photography, portrait and wedding work touches everyone. Everyone has a family and will at some point know or be a bride. So carry lots of cards in your pocket, and get out there!

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: What marketing efforts have had the best return on investment for you? Ads, email campaigns, local activities, something else?

In “Going from weekend wedding…3” SAS explains how to get in the right mindset for full-time shooting. Check back next week for “5“: How to market your news business.
A wedding image by SAS Becker. © SAS Becker

A wedding image by SAS Becker. © SAS Becker

Q: What are the biggest up-front costs a photographer will need to budget for to make the transition to shooting weddings full time?

A: The obvious one is gear. As a professional you need at least two of everything and a wide selection of lenses. You wouldn’t really show up to a wedding with just one camera, would you? One thing that surprised me was the wear and tear on my gear. My previous years as a stock and editorial shooter didn’t require the shutter activations I am seeing in my wedding work. My first year, with more than 40 weddings, I sent in three speedlights and one body for repair. Your website, identity, and branding are also going to be a big expense starting out. Don’t forget promotional pieces and print costs for your studio or portfolio.

There is a lot of trial and error that goes into deciding how best to spend your hard-earned dollars. My first several weddings I promised my brides the world, then I had to deliver expensive albums that ate into my profit. Now I prefer to get most of my profit up front in the form of a creative fee instead of marking my albums way up — especially because not every client is interested in a traditional album.

Workshops and conferences are a great way to brush up your skills and learn from other photographers’ experiences. Some provide great information while others are pointless. I think their real value comes in networking. All in all it is helpful to speak to as many pros as possible to see what worked and didn’t work for them and to adapt their advice to your current situation.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: What workshops and conferences are worth the time and money? Do you have any tips for how to get the most out of them?

In “Going from weekend wedding shooter…1” & “2,” SAS talks about finding her passion for wedding photography and how to assess if you’re ready to switch to full-time. Check back next week for “4“: How to budget for the transition.
An image by wedding photographer SAS Becker. © SAS Becker

An image by wedding photographer SAS Becker. © SAS Becker

Q: What is the biggest mindset change that needs to happen in order to make a successful transition from part-time to full-time wedding photographer?

A: Making the switch from commercial photography to the private sector seemed like an easy transition.  At first, I thought private clients would be easier than photo editors and art buyers… somehow not as demanding. This is not the case. Just think about how much is riding on a wedding: all of the planning, money, anticipation. You can almost always reshoot a model — not a wedding. I think you should approach your families and couples like a commercial shoot. You should always have a concept or an idea you are trying to convey. Are your subjects free spirited, strong, inspiring, or traditional? How will you illustrate this visually? Having a concept brings depth to your images and brings them to life. In the end, whether it’s an art director, a bride, or a new mom, all you really want is for them to be happy with the end result.

This is also really a question about values. I would prefer to think of myself as more than simply a service provider or vendor. In the end I am providing my clients with a photographic product. But, I am not making widgets here; I am giving 110% of my time, talent, and heart as an artist. My values tell me to treat it like a business. Your customer always comes first. It is my job to make sure they are satisfied. So before, during, and after the creation of the photos I am a business professional, they just get a little piece of me in every sale ;-)


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