Spring is here and that means it is also wedding season. If you are a photographer, or even a good hobbyist, weddings can be a lucrative career, or a good side gig. So how do you break into the business? We asked photographers for their best tips on how to get started.

Take a Class

One of the great things about the photography community is that people are willing to share information. There are many excellent tutorials for photographers who want to learn the basics of wedding photography, and many of them are free. If you start with tutorials, it will go a long way once you start getting experience.

Create a Portfolio

It’s important to create a portfolio of your work which you can show to prospective clients. Although you can use pictures you’ve taken in other areas, it’s helpful to have some photos that are taken of couples or families. A great way to build your portfolio and get your feet wet is to offer to take free engagement photographs. You can post on Craigslist or just ask around; the odds are, someone you know, or an acquaintance, knows someone who would be willing to work with you. No one ever wants to work for free, but by offering your services at no cost or low cost, you can get to the paid jobs much faster.

Network with Wedding Photographers

The thing about people sharing information is that other photographers will also help you out. Reach out to other wedding photographers in your area. You can find them online. Check out their websites and try to determine what differentiates their styles. What kinds of pictures do couples want? All of your questions will be answered by friends and mentors in the photography community. You can ask the photography community to critique your work and give you pointers. Sometimes this will even lead to a job. You can also ask them if you can shadow them at a wedding, or act as second shoot. Following a wedding photographer as they move through their day is invaluable experience.

Get a Website

It’s unavoidable in the modern world: you need a website. Few people are looking in the phonebook to find a photographer. People always begin online. Make sure the photographers you feature are high-quality and reflective of your best work. Don’t forget to sharpen your SEO skills. SEO is how people in your local area will find you.

Invest in a Great Camera

To avoid mediocre wedding pictures that make it look like you shot the wedding on your phone, you need to invest in a great camera. There are many different options out there, but the most common ones mentioned by our wedding photographers were the Canon 5D Mark IV, Sony A7RII, Canon 5D Mark III, Nikon D750, Nikon D4 or D4s, Sony Alpha A99, and the Fuji X-T1.

Crash a Wedding

It may sound crazy, but several photographers mentioned crashing weddings to see how it’s done. Hang around the church and watch the photographer take photographs, show up at the reception and do the same thing. You can even bring your camera and follow the photographer to see the wedding through their eyes.