THE BIG LIST OF RESOURCES FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS

This is an ever evolving list of resources for the modern day wedding photographer. The business is tough. Why not make our lives a little easier? Please contact me if you'd like to submit corrections or additional content.

Commonly USEd Camera Bodies

As of 2017, Canon and Nikon full frame cameras dominate the wedding photography market, with Fuji and Sony mirrorless cameras catching up fast. Equipment is a personal preference, like Harry Potter's wand. Nobody can tell you what to buy, I'm just going to list what is currently the most popular and why. There are SO MANY options out there that it can be hard to sort through the good and bad. This list aims to narrow down your choices.

Nikon D750 ($1800)

As of 2017, the D750 is currently top-dog in the Nikon world for wedding photographers. It's full frame with incredible low light performance and image quality. The file sizes aren't too small or too big at 24.3MP. Your average Nikon photographer will have one of these as a primary body and one as a backup.

Nikon D610 ($1400)

The D610 is a slightly cheaper alternative to the D750 with less low-light capability, slower autofocus, but comparable and sometimes better image quality in normal light.

Nikon D810 ($2300)

The D810 has a higher Megapixel count of 36.3, which makes it ideal for landscape, product, architecture, and astro photographers, but tends to clog up the systems of wedding photographers who will be shooting thousands of photos in a day. The low light capability is the same as with the D750, but has slower focusing.

Nikon D850 ($3200)

The newly released D850 is the talk of the town right now. It offers an adjustable MP count of up to 45.7, incredible low-light capability, and a an insane focus system. It's going to be a game changer when it releases on September 7th, 2017.

Canon 5D Mark III ($2200)

A long time staple of Canon wedding shooters, the 5D Mark III has excellent low light performance and image quality. It is a direct competitor to the D750.

Canon 5D Mark IV ($3300)

With low light performance far exceeding the D750's, this 5D Mark IV is currently the top full frame wedding DSLR. It will be a competitor to the new D850.

POPULAR LENSES

This is a topic I wasn't even going to touch because there are dozens and dozens of great lenses out there that wedding photographers use. In general, stick to first party brands like Nikon, Canon or Sony or high quality third parties like the Sigma ART series. This is a list of lenses that I use daily, or those that come highly recommended by other photographers. 


Zooms

(More flexibility, less low light capability)

Nikon and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 ~ $1800

This is one of the classic photojournalism lenses. The 24-70 and 70-200 are both staples in any photojournalist's bag. They're weather sealed and built to last in the rain, or snow, or sand. The focal range is flexible enough to be useful in a variety of situations and the lenses are fast enough to work well in the dark. Focus is almost instant. For zoom lenses, these are some of the best you can buy.

Nikon and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 ~ $2100

Another lens in the holy trinity (14-24, 24-70, and 70-200), this one has the reach you need to get those close up shots at the altar without getting in anyone's way. Zoom shooters will usually carry two bodies - one with this lens and the other with the 24-70mm.


Primes

(Beautiful portraits, less flexibility)

Most people have a 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm available at all times if they shoot primes during the ceremony. Keep in mind that as aperture goes opens up, focus speeds slow down. Many wedding photographers I've talked to get their favorite prime as a f/1.4 or f/1.2 but keep around a f/1.8 for fast focusing during nighttime reception dances. f/1.8 just seems to be that sweet spot.

Sigma ART 35mm f/1.4 - $900

This is by far the most controversial lens in the list. Many people swear by it, but many others with they never heard the name Sigma ART. The lens is known for both it's incredibly sharpness and smoothness of the out-of-focus areas. Unfortunately it is also known for missing focus and gradually going out of calibration. Most ART owners buy a calibration dock to fix the issue, but it can come back days later in some lenses. Many others have no issues at all. The Nikon and Canon versions are great and don't have the same issues. They run for about $1700 new.

Nikon or Canon 50mm f/1.4 - $450

Every camera owner should shoot with a 50mm f/1.4 sometime. They're absolutely gorgeous and are one of the cheaper focal lengths. The focal length is similar to what the human eye sees, which makes them very natural for street photography and capturing candid wedding moments. Canon users have the option to upgrade to the $1350 50mm f/1.2 for ultimate low light ability and depth of field control. As a Nikon user, I'm jealous.

Nikon or Canon 85mm f/1.4 - $1600

If you're going to buy a 85mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.2, you better love the focal length. At $1600 and $1900 respectively, they're some of the best portrait lenses ever made, but are known to be slow to focus. A $475 f/1.8 might suit your needs best if you're going to be using it a lot for reception dancing. I use the 1.8 Nikon version as my main portrait lens right now at love it. I really enjoy how the longer focal lengths compress the background and can create a very interesting perspective.

Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro - $900


Every wedding photographer is going to run into the need for a macro lens at some point. Rings, invitations, and details all look better when you have a nice close focusing lens to work with. The 105mm Nikon is a popular focal length, as is the 60mm, which is only $600. These lenses also double as perfectly good regular focal distance lenses.

Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro - $800

Canon's competitor to the Nikon Micro lens is a little shorter and a little cheaper. It's a wonderful lens with fantastic image quality. 

PLACES TO BE FEATURED

Having your work featured is a great way to show off your hard work and build valuable backlinks to your website. This list will get you started, but the possibilities are endless. Refer to this list by twobrightlights.com for more possibilities.

lookslikefilm.com

Get 300 "likes" in their Facebook group and your photo will be featured in a future daily update. This is a very dark, grainy, film-look group. If your style is similar, give it a try!

Fearless Photographers

If you're willing to pay the $149 a year membership fee, Fearless gives you a chance to enter their twice-a-month competition. Although I refuse to pay a membership fee just for the chance to enter their competition, a fearless award is something to be proud of. They have a "classic" style and aesthetic.

Junebug Weddings


Junebug Weddings is a huge wedding publication and resource for couples that is focused on a more classic and styled aesthetic. Nothing too gritty here, although their style is ever changing. Submissions are open to the public, but preference is given to members. Being featured on Junebug Weddings is a big deal.
Green Wedding Shoes

For the whimsical, fun, and creative photographer, Green Wedding Shoes is a great blog with open submissions that doesn't try to sell you anything. Pro tip: Your submission must stand out from the crowd if you're going to get anywhere.

Artfully Wed


Artfully Wed's aesthetic is very fine art and all about the little details. They want to inspire couples with stylish ideas for their wedding day and have plenty of ideas perfect for Pinterest. Open submissions, of course!

Wedding Sparrow

Focused on fine art, and film. Wedding Sparrow only accepts film or hybrid (part film, part digital) submissions. This is the perfect blog if you fit that niche. Open submissions.

Two Bright Lights

I hesitate to include this because it seems like a waste of money. Still, there's no doubt that it could be useful to some. Two Bright Lights is a service that works with hundreds of publications and allows you to submit to any of them. Editors will have a much easier time finding your work, in addition. It costs $15 a month, but almost all of the publications take submissions the old fashioned way. If you want to do your own research, this service is not needed at all.

Style Me Pretty

Style Me Pretty is a now defunct blog that was a big supporter of the bright film-look that is so popular at the moment. While the website was up, it was HUGE. It was bought by Verizon, then shut down at the end of April, 2018.  I'm still including it on this list, because rumor has it that the site will be returning under the original owner.

Advertising

If you're like me, you hate to pay for advertising. Unfortunately this is a necessary expense in our business, especially before your website really takes off and is ranked well on Google. Here are some good ways to get started. You've got to spend money to make money!

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads MUST be well targeted to have any hope of working. You'll need to narrow down your audience to specific location, age range, gender (I only target brides), and engaged status. Used effectively, these ads can give great ROI and build brand trust. Boosted posts are also another great option.
Google Adwords

Like Facebook Ads, Google Adwords must be well targeted to have any hope of working. I've used these and they were effective, though not overwhelmingly so. These can get very expensive, very fast. You'll be paying $2 per click at a minimum.

Bing Advertising

Bing Ads are cool because you get $150 in free advertising credit when you sign up AND they have a tendency to mess up in weird ways. I used my $150 to target couples in Arkansas but ended up getting multiple inquiries from people in Georgia and Alabama. I ended up booking a beautiful Georgia wedding with paid travel through it, so the error wasn't all bad!

The Knot

Like it or not, The Knot is one of the first websites that comes up when you search Google for local wedding photographers. Brides love it because it's an all in one directory of wedding vendors in your area. I've only just recently started advertising with them and am already seeing the benefits. which have been much better than I ever had with other forms of advertising. I'm currently getting about one inquiry a day, which will fill my 2018 in no time at all. I feel like it works best for mid-range photographers like me.

WeddingWire

WeddingWire is like The Knot but without the clout. It probably isn't worth it, but I haven't tried. Reviews from other photographers are mixed at best. They keep calling me all the time too, which is super annoying. Get your free listing and get out.

Thumbtack 

I really dislike Thumbtack, but I will admit that it was extremely useful when I was starting my business. It works like this: The customer submits a job (like photography) and then local professionals can pay a fee of $5-$20 to send that customer a quote for your service. My complaint about Thumbtack is that the weddings you'll have a chance to bid on are usually on the very low end and the cost to bid is so high.  You'll often spend $100+ to lock down a $500 wedding.

It's worth it when I was just starting, but now it seems hardly worth the effort.

Backlinks are important to your search engine ranking. In no particular order, here are all the websites can submit your business listing and website to, for some easy free backlinks. 

Yelp

Google Local Search

Bing Places

The Knot

Thumbtack

Weddingwire

YellowPages

Foursquare

Superpages

Wedding Bee

FREE WEBSITE LISTINGS

SEO TOOLS

Everyone knows how essential Search Engine Optimization is to a wedding photography business. This list will help you get started.

Google Analytics

See how many people are visiting your website, where they came from, where they live, and loads of other useful information you can use to keep track of your market. All of this is available to you for FREE. There's no reason you shouldn't be using it.

Google Webmaster Tools

Like Analytics, this tool is also free. Use it to do keyword research, monitor search traffic, and ensure Google is ranking your page as high as it can. You can also do things like submit your sitemap, monitor inbound links to your site, and find pages with bad links.

SERPs Keyword Rank Checker

Quickly check where you rank on Google for your given keywords. This saves endless scrolling through Google results.

Moz Inbound Link Tool

The Moz Inbound Link Tool works better than Google's Webmaster Tool for finding inbound links. It also gives you your domain authority, page authority, and spam scores. These numbers can be useful for you to keep track of your progress.

Moz Local

Enter your business name and your zip code and this tool will check your listings on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and dozens of other local directories for consistency and accuracy. Getting all of these directories to match will help increase your search rank.

INFORMATIVE YOUTUBE CHANNELS

There are hundreds of YouTube channels out there that teach you how to edit, run a business, and improve your photography. Here are a few of my favorites.

Mango Street

"Photography tutorials that don't waste your time" is their motto. Rachel and Daniel of Mango Street Labs constantly put out high quality, well thought out videos that teach photography and business. This is my favorite YouTube channel for photography. Lots of videos out there right now are poorly done or just rehash the same old top-level advice. Mango Street does something a little different.

Thomas Heaton

Thomas is a wonderful landscape photographer, but his videos give lots of advice that applies to wedding photographers as well. He has a great guide to the printing process, composition, and persistence. His endless optimism is infectious and he will make you want to get up and get out there with your camera.

Presets are great for speeding up your workflow, dissecting a particular look, or for keeping your style consistent. Here are a few popular presets out there that I love.

Tribe Archipelago - Loren x Chris (LXC)

Tribe Co. Wolfpack

Tribe Archipelago - Lukas Korynta (LKO)

Mastin Labs

VSCO Film 01

Popular Lightroom Presets

Adobe Lightroom ($10/month when bundled with Photoshop)

Lightroom is BY FAR the most popular editing program for wedding photographers. It has all the features you need without most of the clutter you don't. Lightroom is useful for most of the classic things photographers would have done in the darkroom like color toning, dodging and burning, adjusting exposure and contrast, and all that good stuff. Of course Lightroom is more powerful than somebody in a darkroom ever was. For more advanced photo manipulation and retouching (like when you have to edit someone out of a picture), most photographers will turn to Photoshop. Most presets are developed for Lightroom.

Adobe Photoshop ($10/month when bundled with Lightroom)

Photoshop is for the tougher tasks. Photo manipulation instead of simple color toning. Need to replace the sky with a different one? Use Photoshop. Need to edit out Uncle Bob in all the wedding photos? Use Photoshop. Some folks use Photoshop without Lightroom, but most use a combination of the two according to LookLikeFilm polls.

Photo Mechanic ($150)

Photo Mechanic is designed to speed up your workflow, allowing you to quickly import, cull, browse, and tag images. It's no secret that Lightroom is terribly slow to import and browse. Huge wedding days shot over several memory cards and cameras can be a real pain to get organized without it. Give the 30 day free trial a go if you're unsure.

JPEGmini ($29)

Jpeg Mini does exactly what it says. It reduces photo file sizes by up to 80% without reducing quality. It has a very simple interface. Just drag your folder in and it spits out the compressed files. Side by side comparisons show absolutely no difference between the compressed and uncompressed files. This is useful for speeding up websites, sending photos quicker, and saving hard drive space.

USEFUL PROGRAMS

It's no secret that wedding photographers like to spend way too much time on Facebook. Here are some great groups to get you started. I would encourage everyone to add their local photographers as friends and get to know them. They'll be a great knowledge resource for you as you learn and referrals can be beneficial both ways. Remember that you're not in this alone and lots of great people are willing to help.

LOOKSLIKEFILM

LooksLikeFilm is the brainchild of Lukas Piatek. It is a place where film-look photographers can share their best work. Submissions that receive 300+ likes are featured on www.lookslikefilm.com, which is a great inspiration resource for those who enjoy a darker, moodier style. Most of what you see here is done professionally. This isn't the group to be in if you're just starting off and looking for encouragement. If you post a poorly done image, you'll likely receive zero likes or comments as your post falls to the bottom of the page. It can be a harsh wake up call, but when you need a group that won't play fake nice, come here.

LOOKSLIKEFILM LEARN

LooksLikeFilm's sister group is dedicated to learning the craft. Post business questions, have people check your tones, get photo critiques and everything else here.

Build + Bloom by Jessica Whitaker

Build + Bloom is a very positive place for new photographers to flourish and meet others who are growing their careers. "Our top priority is to encourage authenticity, creativity, and honesty," the group rules say. You'll find nice people full of constructive advice here.

SeekTheLight

SeekTheLight is a photo sharing and advice group run by photographer Trey Cockrum. They're a smaller group (6,000 members) with a brighter aesthetic than LooksLikeFilm. This group caters to professionals and beginners alike. They also post snail emojis on pictures they like.

Mentor Me

Mentor Me is a 4000 person community designed to help photographers find mentors and ask questions. You'll find a very high quality of answers here. Out of the "ask a question" groups, this one is my favorite.

Mastin Labs - Community

Mastin Labs is a company that sells high quality film-look presets with a look that is aimed at those "light and airy" photographers. The Mastin Labs community is similar LooksLikeFilm, with a brighter look. They're also big proponents of "hybrid photography" which is part film and part digital.

Second Shooter's Union

The Second Shooter's Union is a group I started with the intent of building a community of very highly qualified assistant photographers. It's a wonderful group of the best second shooters in the world, but the catch is that they demand a minimum of $50 an hour. I hire my second shooters using this group.

Second Shooters

With more than 11,000 members, this is the biggest and most active group for second shooters to find work.

Second shooters - Destination weddings - Europe/USA/Canada

A small group of destination wedding photographers with great opportunities for those who like to travel. Don't expect to make money here. This group is instead great for portfolio building if you aspire to be a destination wedding photographer.

Whoop Whoop! Photography + Videography Referrals!

One of many places for photographers to share referrals. It seems very low budget focused.

Photo Referrals!

A great place to find and give great photo referrals. Too bad it is mostly Canada-centric.

Mastin Labs Referrals

A very active referral group with healthy budgets. You'll see 50+ photographers commenting on every link, which makes it tough to find work.

Lovers of Photography + The Office

This is the best group out of them all! It is entirely Office references as they relate to wedding photography.

Essential Facebook Groups

"When you see some photographer friends putting their sites on a referral thread and you decide to throw your name in too."

It's no secret that wedding photographers like to spend way too much time on Facebook. Here are some great groups to get you started. I would encourage everyone to add their local photographers as friends and get to know them. They'll be a great knowledge resource for you as you learn and referrals can be beneficial both ways. Remember that you're not in this alone and lots of great people are willing to help.

LOOKSLIKEFILM

LooksLikeFilm is the brainchild of Lukas Piatek. It is a place where film-look photographers can share their best work. Submissions that receive 300+ likes are featured on www.lookslikefilm.com, which is a great inspiration resource for those who enjoy a darker, moodier style. Most of what you see here is done professionally. This isn't the group to be in if you're just starting off and looking for encouragement. If you post a poorly done image, you'll likely receive zero likes or comments as your post falls to the bottom of the page. It can be a harsh wake up call, but when you need a group that won't play fake nice, come here.

LOOKSLIKEFILM LEARN

LooksLikeFilm's sister group is dedicated to learning the craft. Post business questions, have people check your tones, get photo critiques and everything else here.

Build + Bloom by Jessica Whitaker

Build + Bloom is a very positive place for new photographers to flourish and meet others who are growing their careers. "Our top priority is to encourage authenticity, creativity, and honesty," the group rules say. You'll find nice people full of constructive advice here.

SeekTheLight

SeekTheLight is a photo sharing and advice group run by photographer Trey Cockrum. They're a smaller group (6,000 members) with a brighter aesthetic than LooksLikeFilm. This group caters to professionals and beginners alike. They also post snail emojis on pictures they like.

Mentor Me

Mentor Me is a 4000 person community designed to help photographers find mentors and ask questions. You'll find a very high quality of answers here. Out of the "ask a question" groups, this one is my favorite.

Mastin Labs - Community

Mastin Labs is a company that sells high quality film-look presets with a look that is aimed at those "light and airy" photographers. The Mastin Labs community is similar LooksLikeFilm, with a brighter look. They're also big proponents of "hybrid photography" which is part film and part digital.

Second Shooter's Union

The Second Shooter's Union is a group I started with the intent of building a community of very highly qualified assistant photographers. It's a wonderful group of the best second shooters in the world, but the catch is that they demand a minimum of $50 an hour. I hire my second shooters using this group.

Second Shooters

With more than 11,000 members, this is the biggest and most active group for second shooters to find work.

Second shooters - Destination weddings - Europe/USA/Canada

A small group of destination wedding photographers with great opportunities for those who like to travel. Don't expect to make money here. This group is instead great for portfolio building if you aspire to be a destination wedding photographer.

Whoop Whoop! Photography + Videography Referrals!

One of many places for photographers to share referrals. It seems very low budget focused.

Photo Referrals!

A great place to find and give great photo referrals. Too bad it is mostly Canada-centric.

Mastin Labs Referrals

A very active referral group with healthy budgets. You'll see 50+ photographers commenting on every link, which makes it tough to find work.

Lovers of Photography + The Office

This is the best group out of them all! It is entirely Office references as they relate to wedding photography.

Strobist 101

The defining resource for those learning to use off camera flash. These lessons begin with single speedlight setups and gradually get more advanced.

eFFECTIVE gUIDES

What The Lens?

This tool has you go through a giant feed and pick your very favorite images. At the end, it will tell you what your ideal lens is. Pretty cool!

Points In Focus Depth of Field Calculator


This calculator allows you to input your lens and sensor size to compare lenses across different cameras. For example: I can tell the calculator that I have a 50mm f/1.8 Full Frame lens and it will tell me that this lens is equivalent to a 33mm f/1.2 on my crop sensor camera. This was very useful when I was comparing medium format cameras and lenses to the equipment I already had. 

helpful tools

Craigslist

Craigslist is certainly not the ideal place for an established photographer to advertise. In fact, it may actually bring the value of your brand DOWN. For newbies though, Craigslist can be worth a shot for your first few weddings. I started here, along with many others.

Thumbtack

Thumbtack is a business that not many people like, but lots of clients use. It works by letting clients submit requests. You then pay anywhere from $2 to $15 to send an offer to those clients. There's no guarantee that your clients are real, although now you do get a refund if nobody reads your quote. Thumbtack works well for beginner photographers in the sub-$1000 range, but beware: clients here almost always choose the cheapest option. It's a race to the bottom. 

Places to find work

The Professional Photographer's Association of America (PPA)

The PPA is a professional organization for photographers. Among their many benefits, they offer PhotoCare Equipment Insurance, which covers up to $15,000 in lost, stolen, or damaged equipment with a $250 first time deductible. The cost is $28 a month. 

Where to get insurance

Miller's

White House Custom Color

ProDPI

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