6. WORK FAST AND PAY ATTENTION or you’ll miss fleeting moments. “There are moments in life, passing us by every second,” Pineda says. “I see my job as to capture the honest story as it’s naturally unfolding. I’m not someone who’s going to reenact or repose anything, so I therefore have to be aware of everything that’s around me at all times and work really quickly to pull together the technical side. I think the images that my clients are looking for are those wonderful fleeting moments, the reactions. You have to be aware and you have to be able to move quickly to capture those.”
7. PUSH YOUR ANGLES AND PERSPECTIVES to set your work apart. If you’re not sore after shooting a wedding, you may not be working hard enough. “The thing that kills me the next day is my thighs,” says Pineda. “I swear I shoot half the wedding from the ground, or I’m up on a ladder. Moving your body to different angles and perspectives just changes everything. Push your angles to see things differently than the pack of 20 other photographers over your shoulder. That’s what’s always in my head: What would the best photographer in the world do right now? Do I literally leave the room and shoot through a window or the doors? When I’m feeling like the job is done, I’ve created the obvious: What do I do next?”
8. FIND A MENTOR if you’re serious about wedding photography. For her first three years in business, Pineda assisted more than a dozen wedding photographers to supplement her income and to learn from their experience. “Assist as many different people as possible,” she says. “You take a little bit that works for you from each person. It’s really important to learn and make your mistakes on someone else’s dime. You learn really different things in the classroom than hands-on on jobs. Being able to pick a professional’s brain while you’re on the job is just worth so much.”
9. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS and understand your clientele. If you decide that you’re going to take the leap into professional wedding photography, Pineda says you have to know your numbers—the overall cost of doing business, adjusted for the type of clients you hope to reach. “What does it cost for you to be in business for a day?” she asks. “I think it’s an important part of your homework to research what’s out there, but I think it’s a really big mistake to price yourself based on your competitors. Don’t price yourself as the lowest photographer in town. Your pricing needs to speak to your clientele as well. You have to define your clientele, who you’re speaking to, before you open your door.”
10. HAVE PASSION for wedding photography or don’t do it at all. Succeeding with weddings is a lot of work. Many newcomers mistakenly think their only investment is a few hours on the weekend. Because of all the hard work and potential for stress, Pineda advises that you’d better really love it before you dive in. “People are hiring you based on your work,” she says, “but they’re also hiring you based on your personality. If you’re not happy with what you’re doing, they’re going to see that and you’re not going to be able to sell yourself. If you’re passionate and you love what you do, that comes through. People feed off of that, they pick up on it, and they’ll hire you as a result of your enthusiasm.”
View more of Laura Pineda’s work at www.alternateangles.com.