Are you passionate about photography? Wondering how to become a wedding photographer? We asked the best in the industry about their beginnings, what is important in wedding photography and how much you have to spend to start with.

Many people wonder how to become a professional from photography. How to start making money by taking pictures. Certainly one of the most interesting ways for talented young photographers is to get married. We will manage without expensive equipment, we will gain experience by taking photos for friends, and if we are good – we will find customers quickly. What is the work of weddings? Some time ago we asked about how to film weddings. Now I decided to look at wedding photography. I asked recognized photographers about their beginnings, how they work, what equipment they use and what advice they can give beginners wanting to find themselves in the industry. Grzegorz "Moment" Płaczek, Andrzej Stefańczyk ( Słodko Gorzko ) and Szymon Nykiel and Łukasz Topa ( LMFOTO ) answer the questions. It turns out that these are three different approaches to wedding photography.

How much do you think you should spend at the beginning to get started with photographing weddings?

Grzegorz "Moment" Płaczek: At the beginning, before we make any purchase, one has to think about whether photography adventure should be taken seriously or rather it will be a hobby. In my opinion, it depends on whether the photographer will reach for a mid-range camera or fully professional equipment. The difference in price is visible. In addition, you must remember that in addition to the camera you will need lenses, lamps, memory cards, a good computer, often additional light sources, a graphic monitor, tablet … and certainly many other elements of this photographic puzzle. It seems that even with a hobby approach to photography, the expenditure is a minimum of tens of thousands of zlotys. One thing is certain – wedding photographer's equipment must be reliable. At every stage of his work. Andrzej Stefańczyk – Słodko Gorzko: In fact, a full-frame camera sensible zoom to this computer … you can easily shut up in the amount of 10/12 thousand. zł. From what I know, you can take subsidies in the employment offices of the order of 16-20 thousand zlotys, and for this sum you have two cameras with two fixtures and a reasonable computer. At the beginning it is enough. Szymon Nykiel and Łukasz Topa – LMFOTO: Assuming reasonable shopping (without madness but also without the cheapest solutions available) for 30 thousand PLN, we can have equipment that can really be used a lot. 2 x Body FF, 35 mm, 50 mm prime lenses, depending on your preferences 24-70 mm or 70-200 mm zoom, 3-4 flashlights, computer equipment, cards, braces and various small accessories).

What can't you do without work? What do you need to take with you?

GP: Work is not just a wedding day. Let's remember that. And here is a trap – novice photographers often buy equipment to feel like a professional and just as often do not use this equipment. In my opinion on the wedding day in the photographer's backpack should be two cameras , 2-4 lenses, two lamps, the right number of cards, additional batteries and possible alternative light sources if the photographer reaches for them on the wedding day (e.g. during a short outdoor session) . In addition, you need a graphic monitor – I trusted the Eizo brand, a graphics tablet (the most popular brand is Wacom), a calibrator, a fast computer and a card reader, a minimum of two hard drives and other necessary tools that the photographer will reach for. But this remains in the individual competence of each of us. AS: Telephone … I often use it to make reflections and hide "unwanted" elements in the frame. Ł&S: When it comes to additional accessories, we are not like this kind of effectors. We sometimes have a prism or bracelet made of crystal beads in our trunk. We also often reach for a mobile phone that can make a "mirror" effect.

Grzegorz Płaczek's wedding photos


What are your favorite lenses that you can't imagine working without?

GP: In my work I decided on lenses: NIKKOR70-200 MM F / 2.8E FL ED VR , NIKKOR MICRO 105 MM F / 2.8 , NIKKOR 35 MM F / 1.4 , NIKKOR 14-24 MM F / 2.8 , NIKKOR 50 MM F / 1.4 . I like to juggle lenses on my wedding day. Each glass stimulates the imagination and motivates to action . It's amazing how changing the lens while almost standing in the same place tells the story of a bride and groom differently. If I had to take only two lenses for the reportage, I would definitely reach for 35 mm and 70-200 mm focal lengths. The quality of these glasses is amazing and I can focus on the frames without thinking about quality. I am calm about her. My backpack is chosen so that the whole set of 5 lenses can easily be placed next to 2 cameras and lamps. AS: 35 mm and 85 mm have been the basis for me for many years. 14-24 mm for several photos. Ł & S: For us, the absolute basis in reportage is 35 mm. We are currently working on a "pancake" Samyang 35mm f / 2.8 fastened to Sony A9. Small and inconspicuous, it makes people pay less attention and behave much more naturally. The second lens is Nikon 24-70 mm f / 2.8 – our so-called "drudge". Very universal, fast and sharp glass.

The camera you photograph is …

GP: I work with two cameras on the day of the report. As a Nikon brand ambassador, I reached for two bodies Nikon D5 . Why these cameras? The answer is simple – I couldn't reach for anything better. I previously worked with two Nikon D3 and Nikon D3s cameras. It was already very good, but now I am in the seventh heaven. For the first time in my life I have the impression that the equipment does not limit my work at any time. And I do not want it to sound like cheap advertising, because I shun it, but currently the cameras I use are simply reliable. Finally, I can focus only on light and emotions. I feel I have no limits in my work. AS: Nikon D5 and Nikon D4 and Nikon D750 . I usually chase with three "cans" at my wedding. I started with Nikon 12 years ago because of autofocus – it was a lot better than Canon – and that's how I stayed. Mirrorless cameras are beginning to tempt, but because I'm used to the "tank" a la D5, these little cameras are cruelly not in my hand … Ł & S: For 4 years the lead has been with us Nikon D750 – probably the best value for money on the market today, with a matrix of rubber, where the only rule for taking pictures is "do not overexpose". 2-3 EV up? No problem. Since this season, Sony A9 still hangs, which for us introduced a revolution and improved the comfort of work. The electronic silent shutter raises the "skill" of invisibility by 50 points , and the tracking Eye AF is like switching to a car with an automatic transmission.

What does your wedding day look like – where do you start, what do you photograph and what do you give up? What do you focus on the most?

GP: The day of the wedding reportage is hard work. There is no time for laziness. After midnight you feel that you're just tired. For several hours you are actively looking for creative frames – you don't give up anything. Every moment can be important and key. Each gesture can tell the story of the day and the love you are photographing. I don't have a list of obligatory shots in my head, although I created one for the beginner wedding photographers. I am already working instinctively, anticipating the course of events and reactions. In my heart I feel that I am in the right place when I stand next to wedding couples with cameras in my hands. On my wedding day I create my own vision and story of someone's family – a kind of love story. AS: At first glance, the details are flying to get it over with. They are important to me, but I focus on them for a very short moment, because I definitely prefer to photograph people. Ł & S: Our working day is 12 hours. Usually we start work where there are preparations – often in the homes of our heroes. This draws us the context and place of events. An introduction to history is being created then, which already tells us something about the characters of the report. We strive to make our workshop as versatile as possible. In situations where time does not always allow it (e.g. go to the wedding hall to photograph details before guests come) , there is always a human being with us, not the detail will be in the first place.

Wedding photos of Andrzej Stefańczyk


What is your recipe for a successful wedding report?

GP: You have to shoot with passion and devotion! I think that to create good material, a wedding photographer must understand that his work is very responsible and future generations will see the photos he is creating. In a way, the photographer builds how future generations will see grandparents and parents. How they loved each other, how they cared for themselves, how they played on the most beautiful day of the young couple's life. The wedding photographer must feel part of this ecosystem, for a moment enter into someone's family and bring out what is crucial, true and sincere. Show a snippet of someone's beautiful world. AS: Diversity! It is absolutely important for me to show my wedding day from as many perspectives as possible. Of course, attention is mostly focused on the bride and groom, but the "flavors" that are happening around me are very important to me. Ł&S: Do not have flaps on your eyes and try to move not only on the beaten and marked paths. When we look at the portfolios of people who come to us for wedding workshops, we often see good, nicely processed photos. All the same, created according to the same patterns. We try to show that wedding reporting is not only putting on a garter, but, for example, moved by a mother in the background – it is not only so-called "strong points" like an oath, wedding rings, shooting confetti at the exit from the church. It is also nostalgic grandmother sitting on the sidelines, who may not have the strength to go crazy on the dance floor anymore, but is very happy that she could be together with the bride and groom on this day. They are also kids going crazy on the playground, or meeting a packet of friends whose lives have scattered around the world and events such as weddings are an opportunity for the first meeting in such a large group for several years.

What are your ways to bring naturalness out of steam?

GP: And this is the simplest one. It is guided by the principle that the young couple love each other indefinitely and are devoted to each other. During the wedding report, natural gestures come by themselves – the photographer's role is to catch them. During an outdoor session – whether on the wedding day or after the wedding – young couples are often afraid of posing. Unfortunately, lack of posing often means artificial staff. People, wanting to get the best out of the picture, reach for gestures that do not look natural on a daily basis. And here the role of the photographer begins, so that he makes sure that the photos look natural and aesthetic. Practice makes perfect, so you should train before the first sessions. I also talk a lot with people whom I photograph and shorten my distance, I try to be myself. During my workshops for wedding photographers, which I have been running for years, I devote a lot of time to how to bring naturalness out of steam. It's an "effect" that can be learned. AS: Luz! It's nice how you manage to talk to Couple so that she forgets why she runs with you in the fields, forests, meadows in such costumes … The word naturalness is a little bit stretched at the moment, because customers know perfectly well that they are photographed and it's hard for them behave as if they were alone, so the photographer's task is to set them and guide them so that at least it looks like that. Setting up for posing is very difficult. Gestures, hands, hair, body play … it all matters more or less. Ł & S: The basis here is the photographer's confidence. The couple usually don't know how to set up, they don't know what looks good. The burden lies on the photographer's shoulders. It is worth having your own several-dozen trained and thoughtful poses that will look good in almost any conditions. As for the atmosphere? It's just an individual matter of the photographer's character. It is impossible to teach someone to be funny, laughing, making people relax and not be afraid to show their true self. When it comes to what is most important at the session, these are two things for us: time (we don't like working under its pressure) and the commitment of each party. It is impossible to make a good session, when one half will only think about it is over.

How do you remember your first job?

GP: Still with a drop of sweat on my back. It was hard, stressful and I'm glad I survived. Of course, we are talking about times when ISO400 already gave a lot of noise on the shot. Now the young generation of photographers have no such worries. There was jitters and the camera surprised me many times with something that I wasn't prepared for. It seemed that before the first order I knew my camera inside out, but life verified this fact. You can prepare for the first reportage, but life will always surprise you with something – this is how we all gain experience, which after years gives us the right to believe that we are getting better at wedding reporting. AS: My brother's wedding. I don't remember much because I got drunk on it … But he was pleased with the pictures! Ł & S: Good question – because 10 years have passed since then! We had the plus that we started our adventure in a duet, so stress and responsibility were divided in half. I remember that my head was bursting with ideas, which sometimes collided with hardware restrictions. We had Canonen 400D and 40D, two fixed positions and one zoom 17-40 mm f / 4. The room was quite technically difficult, and we had to share one flash that we had. What can I say – hard times were …

Wedding photos of Szymon Nykiela and Łukasz Topy


The biggest slip-up you made during your wedding …

GP: During one of my first reportages, two flashlights broke in a few minutes. I was working on cameras and lamps of a different brand than now and with two cameras and two lamps it seemed to me that I could feel safe. You can imagine the level of stress when in the blink of an eye you stop working two flashlights and you have a wedding report that you have to photograph. Mishaps are included in our daily work. In my book "The Bible of the Wedding Photographer" I describe in the last chapter a few stories and mishaps from the weddings that I photographed. I have the impression that I could write a whole separate book on this subject. AS: Getting drunk at the first wedding in his career … Ł & S: It happened almost to miss the entry of the cake or skip the exit of the couple from the church, which decided to spontaneously run (literally) as the first from the church even before they started playing Mehndelson's march!

What advice do you have for someone who has the first order before him?

GP: Don't panic and get ready before the first order. Maybe it is worth talking to an experienced photographer, read a guide, a few articles or go to a photo workshop? Whatever I can do, it will end with beautiful memories and stress. Everyone must be baptized and this cannot be overcome. To those before whom the first order I wish beautiful light and magical moments. AS: First of all, I recommend not getting drunk on the first order … Second: get to know your camera as best as possible. YouTube is full of tutorials and they certainly won't hurt. Thirdly, take a lot of pictures! The more exercise, the more experience. In the end, enjoy it. This is one of the best professions! Ł&S: I would advise him to go to a few weddings as a second photographer and get used to the subject before he takes all responsibility on his shoulders. It is worth training a little earlier, instead of explaining yourself later and starting your career with a not very favorable opinion at the start.

It's also worth reading!

If after this text you feel that wedding photography is something you can do – then try your hand at it as soon as possible! Also read the texts that will help you choose good equipment that will be useful at work.

  • How do you start filming weddings? Tips of the best filmmakers
  • What equipment for filming weddings up to 10 thousand zł? We put together a set to start
  • Which camera up to 5000 PLN should you choose?
  • Can you make money by taking photos?
  • What camera for an amateur? TOP-10
  • The best cameras (EISA 2019)
  • The best lenses (EISA 2019)
  • 10 YouTube channels that every photographer should know
  • The best free photo editing programs
  • Photographer's guide: everything worth knowing