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How to Build Your First Wedding Photography Portfolio

A wedding is often one of the most important days in a couple’s lives, and as the wedding photographer, there’s a lot of pressure on you to capture those memories in the best way possible. Try our course, Wedding Photography for Beginners to learn about everything you’ll need. In this lesson, we take a look at wedding portfolios and how best to build yours.

Creating a Wedding Photography Portfolio

It sounds obvious to say, but you'd be surprised at how many people overlook needing a wedding portfolio when setting up in business. How do you get pictures to show clients if you've never done a wedding? It's a catch-22 situation, but there are ways around it, so let’s look at a few of those.

Be a Second-Camera Photographer

If you know any friendly photographers, ask to be a second camera at a wedding. To be honest, it’s worth doing this anyway even if you’re not relying on the pictures, as it’s a great experience and you get a feel for the day without the pressure of actually having to run and manage it.

Two photographers at a wedding shootTwo photographers at a wedding shootTwo photographers at a wedding shoot
Two photographers at a wedding shoot / Envato Elements

Use the opportunity to learn exactly what's expected of a wedding photographer, ask questions when you can without disturbing anything, and make notes. Be sure that you've discussed everything with the main photographer before the day though, in effect you're their assistant so your priority is to them and making sure the day runs smoothly.

Remember to get both the photographer and couple's permission beforehand to use the photographs in your portfolio, never just assume they'll be okay with it.

Photograph at a Friend’s Wedding

This is a slightly different twist: ask your friend if you can take some of the posed shots — after the hired photographer has finished.

Create a Model Shoot

A wedding modelA wedding modelA wedding model
A wedding model / Envato Elements

Another way to get photos for a portfolio is to set up a bespoke shoot. There are several ways you could do this. You could approach a company that provides wedding clothing and hire models to wear them for a shoot — you can often get models by approaching universities or acting schools and offering the models headshots in return for their time. While working for exposure isn’t a good premise, if nobody is being paid but everybody is benefitting mutually then it can work in everyone’s favour.

You also ask a couple that you know to dress up in their wedding gear and pose for some portraits. Do bear in mind that models are going to be comfortable and professional in front of a camera your friends probably aren't going to be… and might need quite a lot of direction.

Fashion Shows

Go along to a wedding fashion showGo along to a wedding fashion showGo along to a wedding fashion show
Go along to a wedding fashion show / Envato Elements

Wedding fashion shows are another way to get images although they’ll look a little more stylised and set up than a natural wedding shoot would. Wedding fairs often have these sorts of events to show off new clothes ranges so volunteering your time at one of those could be mutually beneficial to the hosts; just again always get permission to use the pictures, you don't want to be left disappointed if you do lots of work and then they say no.

Summary

It's that old dilemma, you can't get experience without doing the thing and you can't do the thing without experience! That's why it's important not to leap straight into photographing weddings if you've not done it before. It doesn't have to be impossible though, just take the time to find other ways to build a portfolio and to get the rhythm of shooting a wedding: try being a second for a professional photographer, photograph at wedding shows, or even set up your own shots in order to build up some good examples of what you do.

More Wedding Related Resources

About the Authors

Marie Gardiner created the video course that includes this lesson, and wrote the updated text version. Marie is a writer and photographer from England, with a background in media.

This lesson was edited and published by Jackson Couse. Jackson is a photographer and the editor of the Photo & Video section of Envato Tuts+.

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