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Salaries Series

I want to be a wedding photographer. What will my salary be? Add to ...

Job: Wedding photographer

Salary: It’s a freelance or contract job and payment depends on several factors, including your experience, the size of the job and where it’s located. Single-day wedding packages can start at about $1,000, average about $4,000 and can go up to $10,000. Experts say someone new to the business will likely start off with a couple of jobs during wedding season, which is typically late spring to early fall, while a more experienced photographer could juggle up to 25 assignments year-round.

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Education: “Anyone can pick up a camera, take pictures, and call themselves a wedding photographer,” says Laura Scotten of Vancouver-based Two Peas Photography. However, she says the “truly successful” ones have some form of technical or conceptual photography schooling or have spent time training with another wedding photographer before venturing out on their own.

The job: A wedding photographer is responsible for capturing a couple’s wedding day on film, which can last longer than the marriage itself. Ms. Scotten says wedding photographers are often the most active people on a wedding day, with the job sometimes starting from the time breakfast is served in the morning until the guests are breaking a sweat on the dance floor. “It is not unusual for a wedding photographer’s workday to be 10-plus hours long,” Ms. Scotten says. In some cultures, the wedding can last all weekend.

By the numbers: The average Canadian wedding costs $26,961, according to a study from Ratesupermarket.ca. Some of the major expenses, according to the survey, include; $9,255 for the venue, $2,470 for rings, $1,847 for the wedding attire, and $2,206 for the photographer.

Job prospects: The wedding industry is said to be recession-proof. “No matter how little money or how bad the economy is, people will still get married,” Ms. Scotten says. The packages are also becoming more elaborate, with extras such as engagement sessions, hardcover coffee table books and huge canvas prints. “There are a lot of opportunities to create your own niche and become very successful,” Ms. Scotten says. The growing number of second and third marriages also means more opportunities.

Challenges: Technical proficiency, scheduling and good timing are the primary challenges, Ms. Scotten says. “You need to know how to use your equipment to get the shots you need to get,” she says. Another challenge is competition. As cameras become more sophisticated and easier to use, more people are calling themselves professional photographers. That makes it more challenging for people in this line of work to distinguish themselves and leave a good impression. After all, there’s only so many repeat customers.

Why they do it: Wedding photography marries a passion for photography with a love for romance, Ms. Scotten says. “As a wedding photographer, you get to be a part of a couple’s most intimate and joyful day of their lives,” she says. It’s not a career for introverts. To excel in this gig, you need to be outgoing and patient, which includes getting grumpy grandfathers to smile and little kids to sit still for the family portrait.

Misconceptions: “Bridezillas” are few and far between, Ms. Scotten says. In fact, she says wedding photographers and planners are sometimes to blame for upsetting the bride on her big day. “‘Professionals’ who are underprepared, not familiar with the venue, unaware of the specific traditions or ceremonies, or are high-strung individuals are usually the source of stress for most bridezilla attacks,” she says. “Our job is to ask the right questions and get all the information before the big day so there are no surprises, delays or stresses on the day of.”

Give us the scoop: Are you a wedding photographer in Canada? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Find more here.

Follow on Twitter: @BrendaBouw

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