How to Become a Full-time Wedding Photographer | How We Did it

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The Leap to Full-time Photographer: How we became full-time wedding photographers

Eye on the Prize

The ultimate dream of so many wedding photographers is to be a full-time wedding photographer. It’s quite the journey for most people to get to that point. And there’s many good reasons for that. Leaving behind a cushy side or full-time job with wonderful benefits can be daunting; safety nets are wonderful! Photography income is also usually variable based on the time of year. And when you are just starting out, the effort required can be compared to pushing a boulder up the hill for a span of months, even years. It takes a tonne of effort and commitment to build momentum and start to bring in your dream wedding photography clients.

You are made for something more

But if you are anything like us, you are willing to chase your dreams. You are made for adventure and there are no 9-5 jobs that will give you the thrill and freedom that wedding photography can! Everyone’s experience is a little different but we are hoping there are some gems below that will resonate with you and help on your journey. This is our story of how we went full-time and we hope it inspires you!

Ditch the excuses

Whether your market is saturated – or not – is no longer an excuse. And it’s not true that the most talented are the most successful ones. (This one is super encouraging if you are just starting out!). There’s a lot of resources that can help you go full-time. If you want it, you can have it. If everyone else can have their dreams, so can you.

The best wedding photography business resources

Don’t go it alone. Why suffer through an extra 5-10 years of costly experience to figure out how to propel yourself forward?

There are a few wedding photography resources that we 100% stand behind. Because they worked for us. There are two wedding photography business courses that we personally love and recommend. We adore the resources from Amy & Jordan and also Kyle Goldie because they address your wedding photography business holistically. I promise these courses are not money pits. They teach you how to make money and build your business. Courses like these can pay for themselves very, very quickly! Amy & Jordan and Kyle Goldie take on two very different teaching styles but you can choose which one works best for you. See our review on the best wedding photography business course.

Don’t forget, that tipping point into full-time photography needs to take a multi-pronged approach. And you can get there. If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The right actions, done consistently, is the key.

When to leap into full-time wedding photography

As of July 12, 2019 (our wedding monthaversary!) we became full-time wedding photographers. The truth is, we started this business in 2014. And it’s been a loooong journey to decide the “financially responsible” time to go full-time. During this timeframe, we have experienced doing our photography business while in College, working on the side, having our first baby, and also moved to a new photographer-saturated city where we knew pretty much no one.

We were trying to balance having enough money to live, enough money to save, and enough time to build our business. It was hard. But, we decided we wanted to build this thing up with a good, strong foundation. And we were open to a slow build if that meant a better business.

Towards the end of this very stretched season, it was a tangible frazzled build-up of working all day, working all night, and shooting weddings on the weekend. It was exhausting and this kind of life is not sustainable. Our family and marriage life was so stressed out, and something had to change. We had outgrown the limitations that outside work put on us. If you are ready to make a plan to quit your daytime job, there’s only one book that you need to read: Quitter by Jon Acuff.

The other wedding photography courses that changed our destiny

If you are not making money, your photography business is just a very expensive hobby. It’s a harsh reality. Especially when you shell out so much money for all of that fancy gear. But the essence of business is that you are making money. Our first and biggest tipping point for starting to make money (regularly) was investing in the right education. In addition to investing in wedding industry business courses, we bought Amy & Jodan’s Shooting and Editing Course and also Amy & Jordan’s Posing Course. We are actually trifecta students of Amy & Jordan. And if you are just starting out, their courses will get you incredible results in creating and shooting work that people will want to pay you for. To get the friends and family discount on their courses, you can click on the following links:

When you become a full-time wedding photographer

Some people go full-time faster than others. Don’t compare. Because, well, it’s pointless and self-sabotaging! We know firsthand how discouraging it can be when you don’t get what you want right away. But we all have different factors and constraints to work with.

Are you a new mom or a SAHM with a bunch of littles running around you all day? Do you have a prestigious job and a huge safety net of savings? Maybe you have the drive but not the know-how? Do you feel the burden to provide for your family and also build something great? Are you burning the candle on both ends at the expense of your physical and mental health? Are you obsessed with the end goal so not living and appreciating what you have right now?

Wherever you are, know that things will change soon enough, and you might have to be gentle with your expectations. If you want to be a full-time wedding photographer, you also have the opportunity to get very strategic with your actions.

Our checklist to become a full-time wedding photographer

Here’s a full-checklist of everything we did that tipped us into full-time wedding photography. This was our roadmap to making our dream into a dream life filled with amazing humans for clients, a fulfilling work life, and time with our precious family:

  • Invest in a trusted business course for wedding professionals
  • Invest in trusted wedding photography education courses
  • See a financial coach to map out what needs to happen to go full-time
  • See a counsellor/coach to address limiting mindsets 
  • If you are married, see a marriage counsellor to have the best marriage + business possible 
  • Read and follow Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (Build that emergency fund up!)
  • Read Jon Acuff’s Quitter
  • If you have kids, have childcare options in place and a teamwork strategy for when you don’t, so you can get work done
  • Outsource everything that you can so you can work on money-yielding business opportunities instead of editing, shopping, laundry, cooking, etc. (We personally use Evolve Edits for our editing. Get a free month added to your contract just by mentioning our name when you sign up!)

Know your Why

Working as a full-time wedding photographer for us means we can chase our vision and build something greater than ourselves. Our work will impact generation after generation. Let’s be very honest: While our names won’t live on, the legacies we create for ourselves and the ones we capture for others will. For ourselves, being entrepreneurs means we can have more freedom to create the safe, happy, and fun marriage and family we want to have. We get to give our couples the best of us as we keep pouring into our craft and plugging into other’s marriages with genuine care and documenting weddings for incredible world changers. A book we found helpful was Start with Why by Simon Sinek

But note, we are not the experts!

We absolutely don’t have have it all figured out. We can only speak to where we are right now, and the things that have brought us to this point in time where we have the blessing and opportunity to be a full-time wedding photographer. Going full-time was a leap for us and requires a good amount of strategy mixed in with faith. There are many, many more chapters of the journey ahead, and we are excited to keep plugging away and see where this adventure takes us!

What’s next?

Is your dream to be a full-time wedding photographer? Get inspired and write down your why to start. Get plugged into reputable education (we’ve spent thousands on so many different courses but the ones we’ve mentioned above have been our greatest game-changers!). Go for it! Chase after your dream, day after day, making sure you are plugged into the right resources and taking the right steps. Consistent action on a daily basis is key. If you have this dream, there’s a reason. Own it and love this life that you get to build.

@dylanandsandra

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