How To Get Into Wedding Photography

Business Tips

Whenever I talk to aspiring or up-and-coming photographers, they often ask about how to get into wedding photography. 

When I first started playing with a camera in 2021, I was mostly taking pictures of high school graduates, couples and families. But, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to get into wedding photography. I was constantly speaking it into existence. I would tell everyone I knew about how much I’d love to shoot a wedding and even posted about it on my Instagram story. The manifestation paid off and by August of 2021, I booked my first wedding! 

Wedding photography makes up the bulk of my business and I absolutely love it! It’s such an honor to play a part in people’s love stories. So, today I’m sharing five tips to help you get into wedding photography.  

Keep in mind, it can happen differently for everyone. Like most things in life, there’s no one thing or one path to make it happen


My first tip on how to get into wedding photography is obvious but important, know the ins and outs of your camera’s functions & basic lighting principles. Someone’s trusting you to capture a major moment in their lives, so be prepared! 

Weddings are higher stakes than your typical portrait shoot. For example, a typical portrait shoot lasts one to two hours. They’re normally in one location with one person or a small group. While it’s not ideal, a portrait session could, technically, be reshot. 

Weddings, on the other hand, are a once-in-a-lifetime event! They can’t be re-created, so neither can the photos. They last all day, there can be dozens if not hundreds of people, a variety of locations, and an array of emotions. Take the time to get super comfortable with your camera (and have back-up equipment if you can). That way, your focus and energy is ready to adapt to any challenges that come up on the day. Things like unpredictable weather, lighting changes, time constraints, managing expectations, crowded spaces, family dynamics, etc. 


Having examples of wedding photography in your portfolio is a MUST. Wedding photography is a time capsule for couples to look back on a special day that goes by so fast for them. Wedding photography is also not cheap, so they’ll want to be sure they’re working with someone experienced. Who can blame them?! I mean c’mon we barely go to restaurants these days without doing a full Yelp preview of them – of course couples want to do the same for their photographers.

You’re probably thinking, “Uh Megan…kind of a chicken and the egg situation here. How am I supposed to build my wedding photography portfolio without any wedding experience?!”

There are two main ways to build your wedding photography portfolio – second shooting and styled shoots. 


Besides photo assisting/second shooting, the best way to build your portfolio is to attend local styled shoots that are wedding themed.

Styled shoots are essentially mock wedding set-ups to build your wedding photography portfolio. There’s several ways to get involved in styled shoots. You can look for other photographers or creative studios putting them together. I coordinate and host styled shoots on my own and via my creative studio, Shutter Haus. If you’re based in Oahu, keep an eye on our events page for our next Styled Shoot. If you’re not in Oahu, the best way to find a local styled shoot is through social media; follow photographers you’d want to work with and keep an eye on their IG stories.

Worst case, if you’re really not finding styled shoots to take part in, create one yourself! When I was trying to build my wedding portfolio, I had a hard time finding styled shoots frequent enough and/or within my budget. So, I put together my own styled shoots! I couldn’t afford a big team of professionals or anything over the top. I just found a couple who were willing to model for me, rented a beautiful gown from Raw & Golden and shot at a nearby beach. It cost less than $100 but I put my heart into it and made it happen. To this day, I still have clients reference that “elopement” shoot. 

Bonus Tip: You can do a styled shoot completely on your own. But, I highly encourage bringing other creatives into your styled shoot (stylists, florists, hair and make-up, videographers, models, jewelers, etc). It’s a great way to build a network of fellow creatives. If you’re looking for opportunities to build your portfolio and get into the wedding industry then chances are other creatives around you are looking for the same thing!


First, let’s break down photo assistant vs. second shooter.

  • A photo assistant is exactly what it sounds like. They assist the main photographer on a shoot. Typically, a photo assistant isn’t expected to actually take any photos. Instead, they help the photographer with things like fluffing dresses, fetching water, swapping lenses, changing film, etc. 
  • A second shooter is expected to take their own photos. Their purpose is to provide additional photo coverage. For example, the main photographer may capture the bride and groom at the altar while the second shooter captures the guests’ reactions. The main photographer may capture the family photos while the second shooter captures the cocktail hour. 

Being a second shooter helps you get into wedding photography without being solely responsible for capturing someone’s big day. It is an opportunity to learn from a more experienced wedding photographer and it allows you to build your portfolio! Like anything, what you get back is determined by how much you put in so come prepared, ask questions during the down time, and make sure to take notes of how the primary photographer operates throughout the day. You can learn a lot – not just from how they shoot – but how they communicate with the couples and guests, how they stay organized, and how they handle the emotions of a wedding shoot. 

I will never forget how stressed I was the first time I was a second shooter. I wanted to fit in and seem professional so bad, I spent hours thinking of a good “photographer outfit” and even went to Target twice to buy clothes that I never wore again. I’m forever grateful that the primary photographer gave me a chance. She later recommended me to a couple for their wedding since she wasn’t available. That wedding was my first solo-booked wedding ever. 


It seems like another “duh” point but it’s so crucial. Yes, your work draws people in but it’s who you are as a person that is a major determining factor in whether or not people book you. Be authentically YOU. If you’re introverted and good at organization & communication, OWN THAT. Focus on those nice 1:1 convos with your clients. If you’re extroverted & great at hyping people up, OWN THAT. Bring the energy & all your bubbly-ness with it. Your ideal clients will find you & love you. YOU are the secret sauce! 

I say this from experience, when I first started as a photographer and especially as I tried to break into wedding photography, I thought I needed to look and act like the stereotypical photographer I saw on social media. I’d wear those wide-brim hats and try to dull my personality to be professional. I’m not putting down wide-brimmed hats. I just personally didn’t look good in them and  didn’t feel like myself. When I look back on that time period of my journey, I can’t help but to laugh. I was trying so hard to be like others because I thought that was the only way to be successful.  But I quickly realized that I didn’t have to be or look a certain way to be a photographer/artist. I just had to be me. 

When I shoot weddings now, I’m normally wearing a long black, flowy, romper. I own my ability to connect well with my couples on a 1:1 basis, stick to their timeline, and also jump on the dance floor with them at the end of the night!


You may have chosen photography as a way to avoid corporate life but one thing that corporate and freelance have in common is networking. It never goes away and is always the BEST thing you can do for your growth.  

Second shooting and styled shoots are some ways to build your network, but, there are many. Reach out to fellow creatives, get to know local vendors. At the very least send that DM to introduce yourself, comment or repost someone’s work. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, schedule a coffee or find ways to collaborate with them. Look for photography events or workshops in your area and show up.  We’re all about community > competition here! In fact, we host Shutter Haus “Community Days” which are an opportunity for any/all creatives to network with one another. The next one is June 30, 2024 and it’s completely free. To RSVP, email with your First & Last Name, Instagram Handle (if applicable), and Company Name. 

There you have it, my top tips for getting into wedding photography, hope they help you!

If you’re hungry for more learning. Here’s a few fellow wedding photographers with great content to learn from. 

  • India Earl – She’s based in SLC, Utah. She has a lot of great online resources and courses for every photographer.
  • Nathan Chanski – Also has great online courses and a very encouraging podcast for photographers and faith
  • Jai Long – Amazing educator based in Australia and he has a wide range of courses too that can also be at an affordable price.

You can also sign up for my newsletter where I share wedding photography tips from and give updates on Shutter Haus events including styled shoots and workshops!