Wedding photographers Joshua and Rachel Rainey share their tips for success.

This article is part of our Photography Business Startup Guide—a curated list of articles to help you plan, start, and grow your photography business!

Over the last decade, Joshua and Rachel Rainey have joined the list of Oregon’s premier wedding photographers. We asked Joshua to share five lessons they’ve learned over the years about what it takes to reach their level of success in a highly competitive market.

If you’re an aspiring photographer, read through their lessons, then be sure to check out our tips on maximizing your income as a photographer, and our list of resources for your photography business.

These lessons were originally shared on our Bplans Instagram profile. If you’d like to see more of our inspirational tips, quick business facts, and behind-the-scenes photos, be sure to follow us on Instagram today.

1. Set yourself apart

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“In one of the most competitive industries around, where the competition is growing at a rapid pace and the demand for services is staying the same, it’s really important to set yourself apart. I’ve found time and time again that one of the main reasons people hire me for photography work is because they are interested in hiring me.

Once I started noticing that trend I had to learn how to market myself as a photographer rather than my photography as a byproduct of who I am. I had to learn how to sell myself, not my work. What makes me different? Why will it be better for my client if I am their wedding photographer?”

2. Think outside the box

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“I constantly have to find new ways to market myself and gain business. As a photographer your competition is always getting better and better so it’s important to stay ahead. Thinking outside the box helps me come up with new, creative ways to gain clients.

For example, I shot a wedding at Salishan Resort a while back and supplied them with some images (for free) for their website. That led to them hiring me six months later for commercial photography work after a major renovation. I made more on the commercial work than I did on the original wedding, and now I have a repeat client and a potential referring client for future work!”

3. Have fun

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“My job is so fun, but very stressful at the same time. I have to remind myself to enjoy what I’m doing. If I can have fun working the results come so much easier.

Sometimes that involves taking a lower paying job because it inspires me. Other times it’s just remembering to laugh with the bride and groom on the wedding day or cracking jokes during family portraits. The more fun you have while working the more you’re inspired to gain work and do a great job!”

4. Enjoy success, learn from failure

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“This one probably goes without saying, but it’s been an important lesson for me so I wanted to share. It’s easy to enjoy success but in photography there is a lot of rejection, I mean a lot. If you don’t learn from the rejection and use it to fuel hard work in the future then you have no chance.

Take the failures and coach yourself, get better, do better next time, avoid the same mistakes, perfect your craft.”

5. Continue learning

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“With any career, especially a self-based business like photography, you have to keep learning! Get better at what you do. Learn as if you’re new to your trade, absorb information, read about it, practice, practice some more, figure out new ways to do things, invent new way to do things, grow.

This can be difficult when you’re busy but it’s important nonetheless. Never be stagnant.”

I hope you enjoyed these great tips from a pair of successful photographers! If you’re thinking about turning your photography hobby into a full-time gig, check out our guide on how to start a photography business.

Do you have a question for Joshua and Rachel? Post it as a comment below, or follow them on Instagram and connect with them there. Be sure to tell them you read their lessons on Bplans!

AvatarJonathan Michael

Jonathan is the Engagement Marketing Manager for Palo Alto Software, and has spent the last 9 years developing and implementing digital marketing strategies. During that time, he has learned that empathy and authenticity are strengths by which companies can effectively engage with individuals at every point throughout the customer journey.