When I quit my job in 2013 to go full time with weddings, I also offered family sessions and I’m so grateful that I did. Here are the 10 reasons why I think it’s smart for all beginner wedding photographers to do family sessions!
1. You get more practice with your camera
When you’re first starting out as a wedding or elopement photographer it’s a good practice to shoot as often as you can! The more you shoot the better you get. Weddings & Elopements tend to book you 6 months to a year out so whilst you’re waiting for your next gig you could shoot 2/3 family sessions every week. Having that extra time shooting with real people will help you level up your skills so much faster than sitting at home watching youtube videos about taking better photos!
You also tend to not be shooting in the best light (sunrise/sunset – golden hour) so you get great practise for weddings where you don’t always get to work in the best light, being able to still produce awesome photos when the light isn’t great is a super important skill for wedding photographers!
You’ll be able to practise your couples portraits too, I take at least 5 minutes during every family session to get some images of the parents together whilst the kids play.
2. You learn to work FAST which is a vital skill for weddings
When you shoot weddings your under a lot of pressure, particularly with time because there is always something happening in 5 minutes so you MUST learn to work fast! The same goes for family sessions, if you want kids & Dad to stay smiling you’ve got to work fast! When your sessions drag on your customers don’t have a great experience, so use that pressure to work quickly to train you for weddings where it won’t be a grumpy kid it’ll be a wedding planner who is telling you to get a move on.
3. You get work with the public & learn how to give great customer service.
Being good with people is another essential skill if you want to build a thriving wedding photography business & nothing beats working with people to hone those skills. Family sessions present you with a unique opportunity to experience a whole gambit of human emotions from joy to frustration as some kids won’t look at the camera and the parents are stressing! If you can shoot a bunch of family sessions you’ll learn how to appease bored Dad’s who maybe don’t want to be there, you’ll learn to calm down stressed-out Moms who want everything to be perfect & you’ll deal with kids who will be happy one second and having a meltdown another. All this is great preparation for potential Bridezillas and all the other scenarios that could pan out during a wedding day! Your people skills will level up so fast working with families!
4. You can get income NOW
When you’re starting out in wedding & elopements having a way to get consistent, regular income can be a lifesaver. Yes you could get a part time job but it’s much better to use your photography skills to get paid. If there is gear you need to get your wedding equipment up to scratch then family sessions are a great way to the funds you need now for that lens you’re desperate to get.
One other benefit is that weddings & elopements are often seasonal so you may have super busy summers but quiet winters, having a way to bring in income during the off-season can really help especially if you’re just starting out and maybe not earning as much as some more established photographers.
Even if you’re not a beginner it might be a great idea to start offering family sessions to earn money if your weddings are being postponed because of Covid 19. There’s no point sitting at home hoping and wishing for things to change, its much better to get up and take action now! If your income has been hit by wedding cancelations then start offering family sessions! Your photography skills could literally make money this week through family shoots! If you want help to get your family sessions in top gear check out my course – The Super Profitable Family Session System! It’s a game-changer, you can click HERE for more info.
5. It gets your name out there
This idea is valid even for established photographers but it’s especially important in your first few years of shooting when you want to get your name out there for weddings. The way I saw it at the start was that every family I did a session with was another circle of influence I was entering. When the families shared their images on Instagram or Facebook my work was being seen by hundreds possibly thousands of new potential customers, all of whom know someone who is getting married. Also having a family you’ve given a great experience to means you have them recommending you their friends, family & work colleagues.
6. It’s a way of having customers for life!
Having family sessions as something you offer means that your wedding & elopement couples can end up becoming customers for life. They have a shoot with their first baby & then this becomes potentially an annual session with this family. Having income for 10+ years from one wedding couple is a great way to build a robust & sustainable business. When you have a customer that you don’t have to market to in order to a booking, it’s pretty amazing!
7. You get to earn money outside of weekends!
Weddings are great but they tend to be mainly on weekends. As a wedding photographer since 2013 it always makes me happy to go to work Monday-Friday! Family sessions give you this option, weekends are still going to be more popular but the scope is there for lots of midweek work. Tuesday money makes wedding photographers happier than Saturday money!
8. It builds your confidence!
Nothing beats hands-on experience for building your confidence in an area. It’s like driving a car, you can read all the books and watch all the videos but until you’ve spent a good amount of time behind the wheel you won’t feel confident. Imagine if you have your first wedding booked in 6 months’ time, if you were to do one family session each week in the run-up how much would that set you up for the wedding! All that time behind the camera, directing, working with people, getting comfortable with your camera, etc. Being confident when you show up to your next wedding will make the day go so much better!
9. Family Sessions can be more profitable than weddings!
You might think, no way, how can that be! I used to think the same too! But if you learn to maximize your family sessions they can be far more profitable than weddings potentially. As you level up and grow as a business owner you’ll see that there is so much potential to make really incredible money working with families. If you’d like to learn about running family sessions that are more profitable than weddings check out my online course – The Super Profitable Family Session System.
10. You might just love family sessions even more than weddings!
There’s nothing quite like getting a thank you card from a Mom who tells you that she wept when she watched your slideshow & the photos you took captured their family at this stage of their lives perfectly. Seriously shooting family sessions is so rewarding, yes there are challenges but there are with anything involving other humans! I know many wedding photographers who eventually move into full-time family portraiture because it is so rewarding & can really work well with fitting into your lifestyle whereas weddings can often take over for a lot of photographers. You might just LOVE working with families!
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