Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Getting Started as a Wedding Photographer

Sometimes towards the end of a understanding your camera type course I am approached by a student with their new entry level digital slr and kit lens attached to it and told they are going to be a wedding photographer and do I have any advice to get them started. Ignoring the sheer arrogance I try to explain that having just completed a basic understanding your camera course might not be enough technical skill and that experience is vital as no amount or classroom teaching can allow for that moment when the heavens open and you are forced to shoot groups of 20 people in a corridor leading to the bar as that is the only open space available. On occasions I am blown away by the fact that said students give me their business card declaiming themselves as a photographer who will do your wedding, portrait, fashion, commercial, in fact every type of photography they have ever heard of.

Well now I can just direct them to this post, it really does define the minimum amount of professional equipment required, and the need for the understanding of how to use it, how having complete technical understanding is a pre-requisite before offering to mess up someone’s wedding pictures. There is no doubt that photography has always been an industry and profession that people have entered without formal college training, and that taking a professional approach and learning the craft is part of entering a profession.

Here is that article, before you decide you are ready have a look and see what a professional brings to the party, here is that link by Mark Stagi

Keith Barnes


2 responses to “Getting Started as a Wedding Photographer

  1. Yvonne November 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I really enjoy your posts, but this one leaves me a bit uncomfortable – is it really arrogance if these students are taking classes and are asking you where to start? i would think someone really arrogant would skip the class and the questions.
    and is your role as a teacher not to build your students up rather than to belittle them? plenty of professional photographers i come across take bad photos – and some amateurs have natural talent and a good eye. I agree that experience is necessary, and it is important to point that out – but there are maybe better ways of talking about it?

    • oxfordschoolofphotography November 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Hi Yvonne
      thank you for your considered comments, you are right I was a bit harsh, the post came out of the considered writings on the website referenced and a long conversation with other professional photographers who were much more vociferous than me in decrying the influx of amateur photographers into what was once a professional market place. I do believe that anyone has a right to become a photographer however I also agree with my more vented colleagues in that to offer a service that purports to be professional, and expecting payment defines that, then there are minimum standards that should be observed otherwise it is hubristic in the extreme and therefore arrogant. I don’t think it is necessary for anyone charging for photography to be college trained but I think that someone who has little or no experience and limited understanding coupled with amateur level equipment without backup is short changing their clients. It is hard to imagine another environment where simply owning a piece of equipment qualifies you as being able to charge for it’s use. As they say owning a Nikon does not make you a photographer, it makes you a Nikon owner. An example of this has occurred again today, I have a student on an introductory dslr camera course who has attended one session, basically to find things on the camera rather than to have them explained, that comes in subsequent weeks. The camera is a new entry level Nikon with kit lens. The email that landed in my inbox the day after said that he had been booked to photograph at a club next Saturday and did I have any advice as he had tried to take pictures of the fireworks and they were rubbish, not sure about the connection between the two except for the lack of light. I do encourage my students to learn, practice and understand how their cameras work, not just when it is sunny but in difficult situations and at times when there is nothing interesting to photograph. Complete control of equipment is essential before undertaking something as precious and unrepeatable as a wedding, who would want to have their wedding photographed by someone without that, or in fact suitable equipment and suitable back up equipment. Thank you again for reading the posts and having enough interest to comment, it is appreciated and as before, yes I could have toned down my comments. KGB

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