Becoming a wedding and lifestyle photographer: The bare necessities

Updated: Aug 4


Starting any business can be tough and expensive. Building a reputation and getting known to your target market can take time, and most businesses have many things that they have to pay out for such as insurances, public liability, advertising and website costs. Ultimately every business is different and some need to pay out more from the get-go than others. Becoming a wedding and lifestyle photographer also comes with a list of essentials to get you started and it is these things that I will be elaborating on.


Now in the simplest terms, it is obvious that being a photographer means you need a camera. But what camera? What lens’? How many cameras do I need? Is there other specific equipment that is vital? Then there is editing software and some of the other expenses previously mentioned such as photographers insurance and public liability to think about.


As there is so much to consider, I wanted to give you as much info as possible. Therefore I will start off by giving you a list of the background items that you will need to pay out for and then I will touch more explicitly on the equipment side of things, giving you a few different options to ponder on.


So let's get to it……


Business background expenses.


More often than not people overlook some of these expenses. Building a business takes time, energy and investment. And there are certain legal obligations that you have to meet as well.

So here is a list of some of those expenses that you will need to consider if you’re thinking of becoming a wedding and lifestyle photographer:


Editing software



One of the most important investments that you will need to make, is in editing software. Adobe Lightroom allows you to take your photos (in raw files) and edit the image to your heart's content until you have enhanced the image to the style that you desire and until you are happy with it. You can remove blemishes, enhance colours, lighting and a whole array other things that take your photos from being great to absolutely stunning.


This is a photo that I took late in the evening outdoors and made it look like it was taken in the middle of the day.

Depending on the style you are providing in your photos and what sort of things you want to be able to do, you may want to consider adding Adobe Photoshop to your editing software. There are different packages available to choose from starting from £9.98 per month so check out their website to help you decide.

Photographers insurance


There are 3 main types of insurance that you will need to consider taking out. They are professional indemnity, public liability and portable equipment insurances. Each covers you for different things and more often than not you can get specific policies to cover all of them – although always check to see if you can get the same level of cover for cheaper by taking them out separately.


So what’s the difference? Well, clearly portable equipment is cover for your equipment and it covers everything from damage to theft. Public liability is to cover you in the event that someone hurts themselves and holds you liable. For example, if someone tripped in your studio or over your equipment at a wedding then you could be held to blame and this is where public liability comes in. Indemnity covers you for any discrepancies that may arise between you and your customer. Any time you offer services to the public, there is the chance that things don’t pan out and someone could try to claim compensation off of you. Although you would hope that such things wouldn’t happen, the fact that they sell such insurance indicates that they unfortunately do.


To protect you further it is vital that you have contracts, policies and complaints procedures in place. That way if there any discrepancies you can do your utmost to deal with them professionally and efficiently. It also means you have an agreement to turn to see who is in the wrong. Obviously, that doesn't guarantee that things can be resolved without further intervention from others, but that will at least mean that you know that you have met the standards required of you.


Bear in mind that sometimes unforeseen circumstances could arise that you can’t do anything about. Some jobs can easily be rescheduled but if something were to happen on the day of someone's wedding then what? What happens if there were an accident and you were stuck on a motorway for hours unable to move? It’s these sort of things that insurances cover you for. It goes without saying that you should do everything within your power to deliver your service to a high standard and that you should never sell anything through false promises, but at the same time, it is imperative that you cover yourself in the event of an uncontrollable and unforeseen circumstance.


You don’t necessarily need to take these all out immediately as you may not have work yet, but these are essential once you start purchasing your equipment and providing others with your services.


Website



Building a website is a must. Many people won’t even consider you unless you have one and building a presence online is enhanced by having a great website that is full of info and easy to use. I know that you can still show off your photos on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, but having a website allows you to showcase your work in more explicit galleries. You can write a blog on it to help boost your SEO (search engine optimisation) and give potential customers all of your contact info, packaged prices, offers etc. You can also sell yourself a little more by letting people know a bit more about you and why they should use your services. Here are a few statistics about websites that I share in my Promote Your Business: 12 Tips to get your business brand out there:


  • 75% of consumers admit to making judgements on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design (Sweor).

  • 8 out of 10 customers are likely to engage with your business if it has a website (small business web.co).

  • 30% of consumers won’t consider a business without a website (Blue Corona).

I can’t emphasise enough how useful and important they’re and I also would highly recommend Wix websites for those of you looking for a more affordable DIY website builder that allows you to easily design your own and add other cool, useful and vital additions to it, such as email campaigns, newsletters and options to sell via your site.


Advertising



No matter how, when and why you start your business, you will eventually need to do some advertising. Even if you have fallen into this career after spending time photographing as a hobby and already have enough work to keep you going for the next few months or even the next year, at some point you will need to find more. Now there are many ways to get your name out there and I have covered some of them in Promote Your Business: 12 Tips to get your business brand out there, but even if you don’t want to pay for advertising, you need to know that unpaid advertising still takes time, and as the saying goes, ‘time is money’.


That means that you have to decide which is the most cost-effective method of advertising. This isn’t always the same for everybody and a lot of it can boil down to some luck as well as anything else. For example, you could get a customer through leafleting that becomes your biggest advocate and puts you on to so many other contacts. Or you could get a steady flow of work through social media and next to none through leafleting. This is why you should always analyse progress and adjust where need be.


I would also suggest that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket just in case something changes that you can't control. What happens if FaceBook was no more....could you imagine the chaos! So try different ways of advertising and advertise yourself with a few different avenues. Try to keep an eye out for the latest fads and what people are and aren't engaging in and stay ahead of the curve. The same goes for your workload. For example, many weddings were cancelled during the COVID pandemic, and although they would have been rescheduled, a photographers income would have been delayed. Therefore having some other source of passive income through things such as online courses is always advisable. I'll be sharing more on this in future blogs, so join the Georgia-Beth family to never miss out and to receive exclusive offers and discounts.


But for the purpose of this blog, I just want you to be aware that an essential part of becoming a wedding and lifestyle photographer is advertising your business. So they were the main ‘background’ essential expenses that you need to be aware of. But of course, as I mentioned in the intro, if there is one thing for sure that you need to become a wedding and lifestyle photographer is a camera. So now let's look at the equipment that you will need.


Equipment



I thought it would be more beneficial for you if I gave you some different options to consider when deciding what equipment you need. These options could be mixed up even further and a lot of it boils down to your budget and current workflow. Also within the options that I have provided, you also have a further option of purchasing brand new cameras or reconditioned ones. There are great sites out there that provide you will nearly new equipment along with extended warranty to give you the extra peace of mind but at a fraction of the full retail price. One more thing to note is that each option has 2 cameras in them. That is because you need a back up for wedding photography just in case anything goes wrong with one of them. Remember it is our responsibility as photographers to try and eliminate as many of the potential problems that could arise as possible. With portrait sessions, this isn’t as imperative as you could always re-book although I would advise that you work towards owning 2 cameras anyway.

So let's jump to it…


Option 1


This option would be worth considering if you have a lower budget and have, or are expecting, a lot of portrait photoshoots. Bear in mind that if you’re starting out from scratch with no or limited contacts and no weddings booked in, then it is not likely that you will get lots of weddings in the first year and maybe even in your first couple of years. Generally speaking, people nowadays are engaged for longer and plan weddings a year or 2 in advance. Some of this is down to the growing costs of a wedding and as such couples often seek to stagger the costs in a more manageable way over a longer period of time.

Therefore, this option enables you to get started taking portraits of families or business head-shots etc. so that you can start earning and building your reputation and customer base and then you could hire a full-frame camera for any weddings that you get until you have enough money to purchase one. This would also mean you have a back up should the worst happen.

Purchase – only for portraits!

  • Entry-level DSLR (not full frame) - I’d happily recommend Nikon’s d3000 range from d3300 onwards check out the review on YouTube below this section.

  • Zoom lens 24mm-70mm*

  • Prime lens 50mm*

  • 2 batteries + charger

  • SD card x2 + reader if laptop/pc doesn’t have it built it

  • Camera bag - that camera needs protecting!

Hire – for weddings. The hire normally allows you up to 3 days hire and the approx cost to hire the equipment below is £260-280.

  • DSLR (full-frame) - Nikon’s d750 is an amazing option and it is a camera that I recommend purchasing for wedding photography.

  • Zoom lens 24mm-70mm**

  • Prime lens 50mm**

  • 2 x Batteries + charger or battery grip – depends on what hire shop has available.

  • Speed light - aka a flash

* make sure you get the right type of lens of your camera as they are not universal.

** Even if you purchased a Nikon entry-level DSLR and then hired another full-frame Nikon DSLR, the lens sensors will be different so you will need to hire these as well.




Option 2


This is similar to option 1 but is tailored for those of you with a higher budget. This is obviously a better option as you would have 2 full-frame camera available for wedding photoshoots, although hopefully, you will only ever need to use one! The quality will be better overall as well for your portraits so it’s a win-win. This option is a lot more outlay as both the camera and the lens’ will cost more than the entry-level camera and accessories, and it would not be cost-effective to hire equipment for portrait shoots – unless you had booked out a whole weekend and have enough of a turnover to justify it. The bonus with this option is that you would only need to hire the camera body as you would already have the lens’ and batteries, although you could hire the flash initially as you will not necessarily need it during your portraits shoots.


Purchase

  • DSLR (full-frame) - Nikon d750

  • Zoom lens 24mm-70mm

  • Prime lens 50mm

  • 2 x Batteries + charger

  • SD card x2 + reader if laptop/pc doesn’t have it built it

  • Speed light - aka a flash

  • Camera bag

Hire

  • DSLR (full-frame) - Nikon d750


Option 3


This option is simply the best of the bunch if you have the money to invest. In the long run, it is obviously the most cost-effective and as I mentioned earlier, you can always get reconditioned pieces of equipment to save on some costs or just keep your eyes peeled for some mega sales. You could also start off by purchasing the one camera and accessories and hold off buying the 2nd until you have been paid for you first wedding, meaning that the initial costs are kept a little bit lower until the time actually comes when you will need the 2nd camera. You may get wedding booking in your first year of operating but they may not actually take place until a year or so down the line so by all means hold off until you definitely need that 2nd camera.


Purchase

  • DSLR (full-frame) - Nikon d750 x2

  • Zoom lens 24mm-70mm

  • Prime lens 50mm

  • 2 x Batteries + charger

  • SD card x2 + reader if laptop/pc doesn’t have it built it

  • Speed light - flash

  • Camera bag - I highly recommend this camera bag in the video below:


Here are some optional extras that you may want to consider:

  • Tripod/Monopod

  • Light reflector

  • Harness - I'll be reviewing the one I use on YouTube soon! Keep your eyes peeled.

  • Light stands - Check out the review on YouTube below on the light stands I use!

  • Zoom lens 70mm-200mm

  • Macro lens

  • SD card holder

  • 18% Grey card - Keep an eye out for my YouTube video on why this piece of kit is so useful!

  • Foldaway stool



There will be other gadgets and accessories out there that you may decide to invest in and there is always going to be the latest tools and toys that join the market. But I wanted to give you a good wealth of information to mull over in the hope that it helps give you an idea and some guidance on what you need to get you very own wedding and lifestyle photography business going. I will be reviewing the Nikon d750 in the next couple of months so if you don’t want to miss out on that why not join the Georgia-beth photography family? You’ll get given exclusive offers, early-bird options bookings with discounts and updates on all of my latest content on my blog and YouTube channel.

If you liked this blog and are thinking about starting up your own business, then I’m sure that you will find my other blogs helpful. Feel free to check them out: 5 key tips to help you build a successful business and Promote Your Business: 12 Tips to get your business brand out there.

And remember,

I’m always cheering you on.

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I'm Georgia and I'm a wedding, lifestyle and business photographer. I am passionate about helping you create relaxed, natural moments that I can capture with my camera for you to treasure forever.  As well as cheering on other small businesses and vendors!

 

I'm always on the other end of an email or phone call, even if it's just for a chat! Please don't hesitate to contact me with any queries you might have, I'd be more than happy to help.

Northamptonshire, uk & beyond   email: Georgiabethphotography@gmail.com    phone: 07454581281

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