Getting that first wedding as a photographer is a big moment!! In fact, I’ve talked about this a lot on my Youtube channel, because it was a huge learning moment for me! I have a video for how to stop shooting for free, how to get booked in your first year, and a few others that I’ll link below, but today I’m sharing my experience getting my first ever paid wedding and what I had in place that helped me close that booking.
I also want to share what I didn’t have and why it’s OKAY that I didn’t have ALL the things set up or in place because I was just starting out!
STORY TIME!! It’s been a wild ride since I started my photography business back in 2013. I’m reflecting back on my FIRST ever booked wedding and how I got it. I always love to hear how photographers booked their first weddings!
For me, I started by creating a website (not a GREAT website, but it was a place to start!), a Facebook page and an Instagram page. I started by posting very frequently to all of these places! And in the beginning, the only photos I had to work with were ones I took in my own home of my wedding rings, and photos I had taken of friends for free.
It wasn’t much to work with at the very beginning. But I was putting it out into the universe that this is what I wanted to do, and I wanted to do it as much as possible.
I also started to dabble in second shooting. I was the second shooter at a few small, more casual weddings, but it was a way to dip my toes into the world of photography and gain some more experience!
A Friend of a Friend Reached Out
A friend of a friend from college eventually reached out to me because she had saw some of the posts I put on Facebook. In fact, the photos she saw were actually from the free shoots I had been doing!
So, if you are at the start of your photography business and you are shooting for free and you’re wondering, “Is this going to pay off?” I promise you, if you put your work out online and really showcase it, it will absolutely pay off! Those free shoots might just be the key to you booking your first wedding.
When my friend reached out, she told me she was actually getting married at the college she went to and she wanted to know my prices! I was so excited, but also nervous because I didn’t have everything in place for my business yet. It would have been so helpful to have a software in place like Honeybook at the time! But, what I did have was a basic price list that was inspired from my own wedding photographer’s pricing guide.
I sent everything over with confidence and excitement, and, low and behold, she booked me!
I Got Booked, Now What?!?
When the reality of my first official booking set in, I became equal parts excited and terrified, because I soon realized that I didn’t have all the equipment I would need to do my job. I didn’t have the proper flashes, triggers, lenses, and so many of the things I needed.
So, I decided to take all of the money that she paid me to hire a really good second shooter to help me, and to rent all of the equipment I needed for the day!
Because I came to this wedding equipped with support and all of the tools I needed to capture beautiful, sophisticated images, the photos didn’t end up looking like a first wedding at all! I had the proper off-camera flashes and lenses to capture top-notch photographs.
I Didn’t Have Everything, And That Was Okay!
Considering all of the gear I have now and the life-saving client management software I use, I was truly bootstrapping it for this first wedding, and that was totally okay! I used physical contracts, I took a physical check from them, I had a Word Document pricing guide, and yet, I was still able to book my first wedding and really deliver beautiful work.
It’s Ok To Not Be 100% Ready!
I hope that this encourage you to simply go for it and start somewhere. I was able to book my first wedding because I started with what I had and I was consistently showing up! At the beginning, I had my website, I was on Instagram, Facebook, I was blogging, and I was putting myself out there!
And that is the key to creating the photography business of your dreams. Because, looking back, if I hadn’t just started with what I had, I would have never booked that first wedding!
I would LOVE to hear from you guys about your own experience with booking your first wedding! Have you shot your first wedding? How did you book it?
Head over to the Photo Boss with Joy Michelle Facebook Group & share your experiences!