What does it take to be good in this field? Here is just a partial list:

Comes from your training, using common sense and that comes from good preparation. You won’t have time to think while you are shooting. I call it left brain-right brain thinking. Everything about a wedding is timed and you have to learn to work in these profiles. While the right half of the brain is automatically doing things repetitively, the left half is searching for the picture. In the Survival section we discuss this more.

Wedding photography is almost as, if not more intuitive than sports photography. In some cases, more so. Sports are played on a designated field within certain boundaries. There are no boundaries at a Wedding. The individuals in sports all adhere (sometimes) to a given set of rules, work for a team, management driven and can be disciplined. At a wedding, emotions and alcohol generally fan the flames. Both work within time constraints. In sports it’s enforced, at a wedding it’s called “chaos”.

On the other hand much of what goes on is repetitive, generally following carefully chosen small scenarios that we have all become familiar with. Till something falls out of its sequence or changes. All I’m telling you is you must know where you are, to know where you are going. You must carefully ascertain your own strengths and weaknesses. Saying no or bowing out is a good choice and a smart one for some.

You need business savvy, since the modern wedding involves money, sometimes lots of it, we have to protect ourselves and our clients. You have stepped over the line from amateur to professional when you write the first receipt. It’s the difference between a successful hobby and a successful business. To all of us our hobbies are almost always successful. A successful business requires work. Work is sometimes defined as doing what you have to do and not what you want to do when you have to do it. If you take the time to think this out and be honest with yourself, you make the call and if you decide to go at it, I wish you well. 

There are two types of shooters. They are the Professional and the Amateur. In every sport there is a definitive line between PRO and Amateur and in the legal aspect of the Photography business accepting money is the line. Even as an amateur if you are shooting for film and print expense only, you have entered into a legal agreement. 

The rest of the accepted definition of PRO is explained below. It is by no means a legal version. That is why there is an institution in the States called the “small claims court”. I call it the "he said, she said" court and I will almost guarantee that if the claimant makes it to court the photographer or business owner will lose. In a juried structured environment, it will get worse. She could be the BRIDE FROM HELL but one tear in a courtroom and you lose.

Professionalism is the demeanor of a person, his or her moral and legal responsibility to perform services as required. One that derives the bulk or part of his or her income through his or her photographic pursuits and may be described as totally eschewed in the game or pretends to be. That means qualified, licensed, and skilled. This has nothing to do with whether this is full time or part time shooting. But it’s obvious the larger or more expensive clientele and weddings require a lot more personal attention. Getting there with too-little too late is as bad as not getting there at all.

Accredited does not mean you have room on your credit card. It means certain tasks you have performed place you on a level with your peers. You can gain accreditation by joining national associations with stringent mail in photos for critique. They have juried critiques, required attendance at meetings, and classes.  Their recommendation for your membership is by their members and boards. There are several national legitimate organizations. And there are the others. few fail, read on...

Bridal Services, Welcome Wagons, Camera Clubs and BBB’s There are organizations who welcome members providing they remember to send in their dues on time. This gets you the membership card, stickers for your car, and secret decoder ring.  Many believe in joining other organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, or Chamber of Commerce will make them accredited.  Join them to be helpful to your community. Your legacy is what you accomplish, not what you joined, thats what people remember. 

Some think you are professional by your choice of equipment brand. Those are the ones proudly displaying Nikon and Canon Professional Services logos on their business cards. You might as well put HANES on the card too. After all, it means you selected one of the best brands of underwear in the country and lets the world know nothing is creeping up.  I love these guys especially with a Nikon logo, and the bride and groom he's interviewing just bought a Canon Rebel, T3i.

Common sense tell us it’s about levels. It’s critical to a PRO. In most of the Western hemisphere, Saturday is the preferred wedding day. There are only 52 of them in a year. If you are a budget shooter and only charge $200.00 a wedding and offer a CD-Rom, you have created a $10,000 dollar a year business most of which you will blow on other gear. If you do $2000.00 dollar weddings you have a $100,000 dollar a year business. $3000.00 dollars a Wedding and you are at 150,000 dollars a year and now the children can eat.