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How to Become a Wedding Photographer in 2024

How to Become a Successful Wedding Photographer in 2024

Is turning your passion for wedding photography into a thriving, fully booked career just a distant dream in today’s saturated market? 

Here’s a game-changing secret: the key to unlocking your success isn’t just posting stunning photos on social media—it’s creating a solid online presence through search engine optimization (SEO).

And trust me, I’ve been in your shoes, I spent nearly a decade navigating the social media maze to grow my photography business. The truth? It’s exhausting! 

But don’t let the sea of talented photographers intimidate you. Talent is just a small piece of the puzzle.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through every step of becoming a fully booked wedding photographer. I’ll show you how to set yourself up for success and create a bustling wedding photography business as quickly as possible—so let’s dive in! 

Can You Grow a Successful Photography Business in 2024

Before we dive any further into this guide, let’s talk candidly. Yes, the photography market is highly saturated with talented photographers; however, it’s far from impossible to grow in 2024. 

Photography as a career isn’t going anywhere. Artificial intelligence can never replace human memories, and having authentic photos of cherished events can’t be replaced.

Even if cellphone photography continues to grow and flourish, Uncle Jerry still won’t have the trained eye that a professional photographer does. The expertise that goes into creating artistic images isn’t something we’re born with. 

Truly magical photography takes care, practice, and passion.

Also, while it may feel like you’re a tiny fish in a huge ocean of talented photographers, there is still a clear path to victory.

Let me tell you a secret: Becoming a professional photographer is more than talent. You can’t just post gorgeous photos on your website, Instagram, and Facebook business page and hope for the best. 

It takes strategy and determination. And guess what? Most photographers don’t even know where to start, and the ones who do aren’t always willing to do the work. 

So, can we promise that from this point forward, you’ll start believing that you are talented enough, unique enough, and worthy of becoming a fully booked, successful wedding photographer?

Great! Let’s dive in. 

10 Steps To a Fully Booked Wedding Photography Calendar

Follow these ten steps to start growing your photography business and get a fully booked client calendar:

1. Know Your Dream Client

First, before you start pouring your heart and soul into growing your business, it’s time to get honest with yourself. 

What does your dream clientele look like? Do you want to book ten luxury weddings a year for wealthy clients? Do you want to photograph mountain-top elopements in the Hymaliays with daring couples? Or are you hoping to be the go-to photographer for LGBTQ+ couples? 

While you can target different clientele later on, it is a good idea to have a rough idea of the kind of work you want to do so you can start targeting your content toward those clients. 

2. Social Media Pages

While so many photographers make the mistake of only relying solely on social media to grow their photography businesses, it’s still a valuable tool that should still be utilized.

Instagram and TikTok serve as online portfolios that push your content out to new people who may be interested in your content. Just be sure that your social media pages all have the same username so there’s no confusion when people try to find you, and always have your website linked when possible.

3. Make a Website

If you don’t already have a website—it’s time to make one! 

If you already have a website, it’s time to maximize its potential. But first, is your site built on a platform like WIX or Squarespace? Or are you using WordPress?

Tons of photographers gravitate toward those easy-to-use site platforms, but unfortunately, they’re challenging to scale in terms of SEO. 

If you’re serious about growing your site SEO, you will need to use WordPress since it’s Google’s preferred platform and provides the most freedom to scale your site and drive traffic. 

4. Learn SEO

Photographers spend far too much time chasing down clients through contests, social media, promotions, and passing out business cards. 

But if all of that time were instead spent drafting a solid SEO plan and taking action, you’d likely see hundreds of potential clients viewing your site a month and organic inquiries in your inbox. 

But why don’t photographers use SEO? Speaking for myself, It was overwhelming. 

All I wanted to do was take beautiful pictures and work with amazing clients. I didn’t want to learn how to optimize my site, use keywords, and earn backlinks. 

Not only that, but I didn’t understand the foundations of SEO. 

I created a whole guide on the ins and outs of SEO for photographers. It gives the whole overview of what to expect.

5. Start Blogging

Blogging is a critical component of growing your website. Think about it—what does it take for you to click on a site?

You likely start with a question you need answered, then type it into Google and click on the result that seems to answer your question the best. This is the simplest explanation of SEO. 

You need to figure out what people are typing into Google, but not just any people—you want potential clients. Then, you’ll need to write blog posts that answer these questions. 

The most popular tools for this are SEMrush and Ahrefs. Sites like SErankings are also handy since they offer a 7-day free trial to get you started. 

From here, you’ll want to get creative and guess what your dream clients could be searching for and analyze the traffic and the keyword difficulty. You’ll want to find keywords that are easy to rank for when you start but still get decent traffic. 

For instance, on Ahrefs, the term “fall engagement outfits” gets 1.7 thousand searches a month but only has a difficulty rating of two! This means any new site would have a decent shot at earning a spot on the first page of Google. 

There are a bunch of different photography blog ideas that will give you a starting place for your keyword research. But your keyword research should also draw in your target audience. If you’re hoping to travel to specific regions and photograph there, do keyword research that could draw in clients who have the same aspirations. 

Make a spreadsheet of all of the keywords you want to start targeting, their difficulty, and their traffic. This way, you can review your list and start writing each article. 

Remember to use high-quality images with small file sizes since large ones will slow your site down and penalize you. 

If you’re curious about where your site stands and what keywords you’re targeting, you can schedule a free site evaluation with me—no strings attached!

The next key component is to start earning backlinks. Backlinks mean that other websites have added a link to your site. Now, this matters because it sort of proves to Google that your content is valuable. 

Some of the best ways to get backlinks as a wedding photographer are through other vendor sites, wedding venue albums, and getting your work featured on wedding planning sites. 

However, there are some other super creative ways to earn backlinks. I volunteered to photograph non-profit events in exchange for backlinks, reached out to blogs that wrote about my city and offered free photographs for links, and even wrote guest posts in exchange for links. 

6. Be Willing to Photograph Outside of Your Niche

Now, this may sound counter-intuitive to what other photography gurus tell you, but if your goal is to quit your day job and jump into photography full-time, don’t be afraid to branch out into other niches. 

Always strive to grow your wedding photography bookings if that’s your ultimate goal, but don’t be afraid to photograph events, real estate, sporting events, concerts, festivals, etc. Pass out your business card and start meeting as many people as possible. 

This will allow you to make money taking photos, make new connections within your community, and earn backlinks when others post your photos on their sites. You don’t need to promote these services or photos on your website or social media, but these opportunities can increase your earnings.

7. Leave Your Ego at The Door

I’ve been in the photography business long enough to know that sometimes ego can do more harm than good. 

Remember that not every client is versed in proper photography etiquette. If your client asks for raws, tons of extra Photoshop work, or doesn’t understand your pricing, etc—that’s okay!  

Take the extra time to explain how things work to your potential clients, and always approach from a place of love. This doesn’t ever mean you’ll have to sacrifice your values, but this communication can deepen your client relationships and 

8. Collaborate With The Community

While in the process of growing your website and social media following, the best thing to do is get out into your community and start shaking hands. 

This could mean attending Meetups, events, festivals, or simply putting your business card up at a coffee shop. 

At the beginning of my photography career, I’d volunteer my time to local non-profits and photograph events for free. Again, if your ego tells you not to give your time away for free—I get it. 

But donating your time earns you so much more than dreaded and infamous “exposure.” First, you’re making a difference in your community and helping a local non-profit or charity. But you’re also meeting groups of people with friends and family who may be searching for a photographer. 

Hand out your business cards and connect with as many people as possible on social media. You wouldn’t believe how many people reach out when they finally get engaged, have a baby, or need professional photos to sell their house. 

Lastly, when these non-profits post these photos on their sites, they’ll link to your website. Earning backlinks is one of the best ways to grow your website, and non-profits and charities can be incredible link-building opportunities that can dramatically change your site’s authority ranking. 

9. Practice, Practice, Practice

Take any opportunity to improve your skills, grow your site, and learn to network better. 

There’s so much more that goes into growing a successful wedding photography business than just taking great photos. 

Show up to entrepreneur seminars, workshops, and gatherings. Learn to network. You’ll find success much quicker if you step out from behind your camera and learn the ropes of entrepreneurship. 

10. Under Promise & Over Deliver

Your reputation is everything when it comes to your business. Always set realistic expectations with your clients that align with your needs and values, but always try your hardest to over-deliver. 

This means taking an extra 15 minutes to shoot if you can. If you promise ten photos— deliver 12. Deliver client galleries quicker than your clients expect and stay on top of communication. 

I promise this will keep your clients returning for more and spreading the word to their friends and family. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about becoming a successful wedding photographer:

How do I build a portfolio if I have never shot a wedding?

Offer to shoot weddings for friends or family or work as a second shooter with an established photographer. You can also create a styled shoot with models to showcase your style.

How much should I charge for my wedding photography services when first starting?

Research the going rates in your area and set competitive pricing that reflects your experience level. Consider offering introductory rates to build your client base and portfolio.

Final Thoughts

The hardest part of becoming a successful wedding photographer is the work that needs to be done outside of actually photographing a wedding. 

This is why so many photographers fail to scale their businesses into full time careers. If you’re ready to start scaling your business and landing your dream clients, schedule a free site evaluation and see how you stack up against the competition. 

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