7 Ways to Expand + Diversify Your Wedding Photography Business

July 24, 2017 | carrie

Photo by Hugh Whitaker

It seems that 2017 is a year where bookings appear to be down across the board. Photographers who left 2016 feeling prepared for another successful year have been faced with the reality that the wedding industry is seasonal and ever-changing. However, a tougher year in sales is making for some serious side hustle success stories! Even if 2017 has been a crazy busy year for your wedding business, it never hurts to diversify your revenue and make your business stronger. These seven ideas to diversify your wedding photography business are by no means the end of the list, there are tons of side hustles out there, and you just have to find the one that fits you best! Read on to get inspired by these awesome photographers.

1. Work outside of the wedding industry

Photo by Mark Maya

If you’ve ever found yourself in a creative rut, or maybe even financially strained, expanding your business outside of the wedding industry might help to kill two birds with one stone. There are so many different photography categories, such as music, fashion, product, pet, maternity, etc. Picking up some work in any of these areas can give you external inspiration outside of the wedding world as well as help to keep your bank account happy, even during your slower wedding months.

Mark Maya, a wedding photographer based in North Carolina, decided to try this strategy out with musicians that played shows in his area. Now, Mark has made a name for himself in his region as a music photographer and has had the opportunity to photograph artists such as Gregory Alan Isakov and Mandolin Orange.

Photo by Mark Maya

Mark: For me, the key to becoming a “musician photographer” was being acutely aware of what I was interested in – music and photography. I noticed there was a problem – musicians didn’t have a lot of time nor did they have the money to pay for really good musician portraits. I swooped in and came up with a low-risk way to solve that problem for musicians by using a minimal amount of their time and (at the time) charging them nothing. I would meet them at the venues before their shows, walk around with them and make photos. I’d spend a good amount of time just chilling and engaging in small talk as well. I didn’t just want to get photos of them. I also wanted to show them that I was someone who actually cared, was interested in their work and someone that they should remember. The return for me was a stellar portfolio of musician portraiture, higher SEO ranking, and the satisfaction of hustling my way into a niché.

I spent about a year shooting musicians for free before my SEO ranking started to increase from all the blogs. I began getting inquiries from musicians who googled “Durham Musician Photographers,” among other strategic keywords. I also began to get referrals from some of the musicians that I had given photos to.

2. Sell your images

Photo by Hugh Whitaker

Stock photography isn’t for everyone (as with everything else on this list), but if you can figure out what works and what doesn’t, stock photography can add to your portfolio as a commercial photographer and generate some consistent side money!

Photo by Hugh Whitaker

I was surprised to learn a few months ago that Hugh Whitaker, who’s wedding work I adore, also has a stock photography side hustle. Here’s what Hugh has to say about his stock business:

Hugh: I’m a full-time wedding photographer, most of my time and effort is focused on my wedding business and it’s this side of photography that I feel the greatest connection to. However, I’m not a great fan of having all my eggs in one basket, I’ve always had other options and ways of making money on the side in case my wedding work was ever to slow down. I actually started shooting stock a long time before I started shooting weddings and it’s provided me with a very stable extra income over the years.

I treat stock photography very differently from how I shoot weddings. With wedding photography, I’m very focused on the artistic side and creating images that I feel are emotional and beautiful. With stock, I treat it in a much more methodical almost scientific way. I want the images to sell well, and there is a science to selling stock photography that I’ve had fun working out over the years. The images that I find sell the best are bright and energetic, which is very different from my quiet, darker, more sensitive wedding work. I put a lot of effort into thinking what will make someone purchase an image; color palettes, text space and potential themes play a huge amount in the planning of any shoot or image. For me its fun to take my brain into this different place and produce imagery in a totally different way. Stock photography has gone through a lot of changes over the years but there will always be a demand for well-crafted imagery.

3. Start a collective

Photo by Rachel Photographs

With community over competition in mind, the idea of forming collectives has become more popular in the last few years. Banding together with other creatives in your city is a great way to 1. build an amazing and supportive community and 2. create something truly special and all-in-one for brides. Rachel Waters, a photographer based in Oklahoma City, started a collective called Honest + Kind Collective this year with a group of OKC creatives and up-and-coming talent. Her objective is a breath of fresh air when it comes to building up the wedding industry in her own community, as well as expanding her wedding photography business.

Photo by Rachel Photographs

Rachel: We started Honest + Kind Collective because we felt there was a hole in the Midwest for those who wanted something more modern, bold, and fresh. As creatives, we aim to stay inspired, so this one-stop-shop for the rad, bad, babes to plan their weddings and events is also an opportunity for us to help couples plan weddings we’d love to be a part of. We get to do things more our way because the couples who come to us know they’re getting artists who flourish when it comes to representing our couples in an honest, innovative way. We aim to do the un-typical when it comes to the weddings we get to be a part of and we are proud of that. We do it all: photography, videography, planning, styling, florals, and can help with cakes, music, wardrobe, invites, you-name-it. It’s really been great (for me personally) to be a part of a team that works together to bring people’s visions to life (as opposed to maybe running into your favorite vendors once in a blue moon, we get to work with them on a weekly basis).

As one of the co-owners, I also get a small percentage of every event we do, so from my standpoint, it’s a nice way to earn a little extra income (even if I’m not photographing a wedding.) I think brides who come to us aren’t necessarily looking to pay more but may end up doing so because we’re a one-stop-shop and that takes a lot of the stress away. It’s been a wonderful ride so far and I cannot wait to see where Honest + Kind goes!

4. Start a podcast or vlog

Though podcasting and vlogging might not be huge moneymakers, they can be great ways to collaborate with other artists and they do have the potential to be sponsored by major brands such as Canon or by your subscribers via Patreon. If creating a community has always been a dream of yours, then a podcast or vlog might be the perfect avenue to realizing that dream.

Not sure where to start? Check out Sam Hurd’s The Epic Podcast or Mango Street Lab’s Youtube channel for inspiration. You can also learn everything you need to know about podcasting by checking out Podcast Junkies.

5. Teach

Photo by India Earl

Teaching is most definitely not for everyone. When you take on the role as an educator, you’re not just getting paid to tell people about your success, you’re getting paid to help people create their own success. I’ve found, in talking to many educators in our industry, that most people fell into the educator role rather than seeking it out. If you’ve been asked by other photographers for advice more times than you can count, teaching might be something that makes sense for you and your business. Whether you’re wanting to host workshops, stick with one-on-one sessions, or host online webinars, there’s a teaching approach for everyone.

There were so many people that I could have asked to give me insight on education in this industry, but I chose to reach out to India Earl because she’s doing it all and then some when it comes to her education business. India has a workshop, is a speaker at other workshops, hosts online workshops, and offers one-on-one sessions. She’s truly cracked the code of diversifying her wedding photography business by adding teaching to her repertoire.

Photo by India Earl

India: I really sort of just fell into mentoring. It started with people asking me if I could teach them the way I run my business, shoot couples, edit, etc. I was always happy to help, and then a friend of mine told me that I know enough and have enough helpful advice for photographers of any skill level that I should charge for the knowledge I’ve put years and years into learning! From then on, it became another source of revenue for me, which has been really rewarding. I love helping people get that extra push and making them feel on fire and excited about photography and their business again, because I know the feeling! Mentoring has been one of my favorite things I’ve ever done, not only as a photographer or business, but as a person too!

6. Offer to edit as a service

Are you a master when it comes to editing? Maybe you’re the person in your Facebook groups that always helps friends remove awkward people from their images or fixes lighting issues? If this sounds like you, then maybe you could devote time to selling these services, even if it’s just for a few select friends at first. Depending on how much you charge, you could reasonably make around $300-500 per wedding.

7. Sell your intellectual property

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people in Facebook groups asking for contract advice, email etiquette, and other miscellaneous business queries. If you’re always answering these questions and have a super system when it comes to client correspondence, contracts, etc., then you may want to consider packaging these items up and selling them to photographers who need help. Melissa Jill, a Phoenix-based photographer, sells contracts, couple questionnaires, workflow checklists, email templates, and more.

There are also other types of intellectual property that you can sell, one of which is your Lightroom Presets. I know that everyone and their mom is selling presets nowadays, but if your style is unique and popular with your followers, selling a few presets might make sense for your business!

Do you have a favorite way to diversify your wedding photography business? Leave us a comment below!


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Top Pics of the Week – July 21st

July 21, 2017 | gabby

photo by Ap-Art Photography

This week’s Top Pics feature a slew of epic bridal shots and unbelievable scenery! A huge thanks to Lynn Lewis, Miss Gen PhotographyIsaiah + Taylor Photography, Creative Apertures PhotographyBoy Called Ben PhotographyFaces PhotographyCélestine Aerden Photography, Ap-Art Photography, and In Beeld met Floor for sharing their images with us this week.

photo by Isaiah + Taylor Photography

photo by Creative Apertures Photography

photo by Miss Gen Photography

photo by Faces Photography

photo by Lynn Lewis

photo by In Beeld met Floor

photo by Célestine Aerden Photography

photo by Boy Called Ben Photography

We’d love to feature your work in a future Top Pics post! Be sure to tag your images with #photobugcommunity in Instagram, and come join the fun over in our Photobug Community Facebook group.

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Instagrammers to Follow – July Edition

July 20, 2017 | carrie

photo by Thomas Stewart

There’s never a better time to improve your Instagram game than the present. Which means you should definitely take advantage of the this month’s edition of Instagrammers to Follow, because it’s chock full of tips from your peers. And what better way to help you get where you want to go than by introducing you to folks who have gone through the same journey? Whether you’re trying to figure out where to post your personal images or how to go about engaging with your followers, our Instagrammers to Follow have got you covered! Enjoy!

Photo by Abby Roses

Abby Roses – @abbbbyroses

Photo by Abby Roses

Instagram has been the best source of advertisement for me! I actually have never paid for advertising to this day. I gain about 90% of my clients from Instagram + word of mouth (and the other 10% from Facebook).

Be real + show your quirks. Your followers want to know who you are and what you care about, they want to see into your daily life and know the real you (Instagram stories are great for this!). Remember, if you want engagement, you need to engage! Respond back to your followers, answer their questions, and tell them “thank you” for their compliments. Scroll through their pages and give them some likes + compliments as well. Also — don’t post things just because “so-and-so” did. Create original content that you’re actually passionate about + people will be drawn to your passion.

Photo by Abby Roses

My most popular post is the photo of Zac showing off his wedding ring right after he and Lauren walked down the aisle. My followers love seeing raw emotion; the posed stuff is pretty, but it’s the little, real moments that make you feel something when you look at them.

Photo by Abby Roses

I have a lot of photographers that I love following + admire greatly, such as @thekitcheners, @dawn.charles, @bensasso, but I try and find inspiration for my work elsewhere, such as old films (How to Marry a Millionaire is my all time favorite. The colors are to die for!), old books, and even oil paintings.

Photo by Abby Roses

Olivia Strohm@oliviastrohmphoto

Photo by Olivia Strohm

Instagram has been a HUGE and wonderful asset to my business in the past year. It’s where brides hang out these days! It’s also where people who appreciate photography look for a photographer. I love getting an inquiry from a bride or groom who found me on Instagram because it instantly shows that they appreciate my work, who I am as a person and my style of how I do things in general.

Photo by Olivia Strohm

My biggest advice to photographers looking to increase their growth on Instagram is to not take it too seriously. Engage with people who comment, comment on other photos, engage in pods (groups of photographers who comment on each other’s photos to increase your chance of popping up on people’s feeds), but know that there is only so much one can do to beat Instagram’s crazy algorithm (so give yourself grace)! I also think that adding as much personality to your feed as you can will make you stand out and make people want to follow you. My most popular photos are always the ones that are goofy, joyful, romantic, and laid back.

Photo by Olivia Strohm

My most popular photo that I have had yet was the photo of the blonde being twirled by her man in the greenhouse. It got almost 4,000 likes, which was crazy for me. I think that photo did so well because, one, the couple is BOMB, and people love a cute couple doing a cute thing. However, it also did well because I probably posted it at the right time of day and got enough comments that the photo was put onto people’s algorithms and on the discover page on Instagram!

Photo by Olivia Strohm

My biggest inspo goes to: @kandice.breinholt / @melissamarshallx / @madelinemetcalf . These ladies kill the game and I am inspired by their bold faith + unique/true-to-themselves talent.

Photo by Olivia Strohm

Thomas Stewart@thomstewart

Photo by Thomas Stewart

I’m yet to properly master Instagram for my business. Since I really started posting often, I’ve definitely noticed an increase in inquiries from Instagram, but I feel there’s a lot more I could do and I guess I’m still learning. Posting to Instagram has definitely made me think more about the way I shoot – how my images look in a grid and my overall style, rather than focusing on single images.

My best advice is to post consistently, and post your best images. Also important: sure, look at what other people are doing, but don’t try to emulate them. Your Instagram is great because it is yours – it’s OK for your approach to be different to that of others. For example, I prefer to post images other than just weddings, as this is what I love to shoot and share. Most wedding photographers seem to just share wedding images. Going viral a few times definitely helps!

Photo by Thomas Stewart

My most liked image is a nighttime image, shot during the rain. I placed a flash behind the couple, had them duck outside with me while they held an umbrella, and I shot towards the couple so the flash went off behind them, illuminating the raindrops. I love this image; I love that it was a single image that I didn’t really prepare or test out (it was pouring!); we ran outside, took this one image, then ran back inside as we were getting drenched. I think the image went well due to the obvious “wow” factor – it looks quite different to most wedding images. It looks quite romantic as the couple is cuddled up together to stay dry. The image was also picked up by a few major Instagram accounts which shared it – this helped it to grow in likes.

Photo by Thomas Stewart

I try to follow a mix of wedding photographers, graphic designers, and landscape/portrait photographers. A lot of my inspiration comes from non-wedding related images and creatives. Here are some Instagrammers I love to follow: @rachelgulotta@tylerrye_@artofvisuals@beardedvillains@tylerbranch.

Photo by Thomas Stewart

The Portos@theportos

Photo by The Portos

Instagram has truly allowed us to expand outside of our New York and Florida Markets. No longer are couples just booking the “local photographer” but they are searching out who fits them best and we are honored to have couples see us as that.

Photo by The Portos

Honestly, I really want to increase our own following. However, engagement on Instagram is all about consistency. I see so many photographers that every collection varies in look and it will throw couples off when looking. You want to be consistent and intentional with your posts. Make sure your account is targeting the kind of weddings you are best at. Also, be real. Do not try to carbon copy someone else’s style. Find something that works for you and stick to it. People are looking for authenticity.

Photo by The Portos

One of our most successful posts recently was our groom Jordan being prayed over by his guys. Yes, the location I chose was epic but there are tons of epic scenery photos posted online. I think people are drawn to real/un-staged emotions, and that’s what we try to deliver with every wedding. And the one of our bride Jen crowd-surfing because that is freakin’ epic

Photo by The Portos

Some accounts we follow, because the work is always incredible, are @stanflan, @chellisemichael, @juliaandgil, @jordanvoth, @levkupermanweddings, @patfureyphoto, @_chrisglenn_, and @forgedinthenorth. We are also really inspired by some other photographers who aren’t “celebrity status” who really have passion and are going hard for this, such as @thelemonsphoto, @theshepardsphoto, @charissaphoto, @the_hendrys, @megbrookephotography, @radredcreative@jojopangilinan_, @rachelrowlandphotography, and @spacewolfgrace

Photo by The Portos

Massive thanks to Abby RosesOlivia StrohmThomas Stewart, and The Portos for sharing their two cents along with their beautiful work.

Is there an Instagram account you think we should feature in an upcoming Instagrammers to Follow? Let us know below!


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