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I am a wedding photographer just starting out in the biz. I've shot 5 weddings as the primary shooter, but am finding it difficult to find new clients. I feel like my photos are rather good so I don't think that's the issue.

Is it common for seasoned wedding photographers to be booked out every weekend, or is that generally only the best of the best?

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There's a general rule in all startup businesses (and that includes photography): expect to make a loss for the first two or three years while you build up sufficient market visibility (and for a photographer, reputation) so clients are directed to you by former clients or by your marketing material (or both).

Your belief in your own ability as a photographer is only a fraction of what is required to get a business up and running.

So comparing your new business to that of established photographers in your own market will be meaningless. Concentrate on growing your business using the right business approaches for your area (and your skills in business), not on comparisons to other people. Established businesses have invested a lot (years) of time and effort into being visible and respected. The survivors are very good at the business of photography, not simply photography.

Accept as a given that some photographers, typically the best established in your area (and the best at business, not necessarily the best at photography, although that helps), will be doing more business than a new entrant.

And, honestly, your core market research in your area should be giving you answers to questions like the ones you asked. It's going to be different for everyone. You need to get a feel for your local market, not what's happening on the internet, and only you can do that.

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    This didn't really answer my question – Barney Chambers Dec 27 '16 at 12:13
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Most of the handful of full-time wedding pros that don't work staff photography jobs or a non-photo related "day" job in my area book about 20-30 weddings per year, mostly spread over the eight warmest months of the year. They're all fairly well established and have been in business for a while. The part-time Weekend Warriors and Friends with Cameras come and go as they realize how much time and money it takes to shoot a wedding well. We're located in a temperate sub-tropical climate.

During the cooler months they concentrate on marketing for the next couple of warm weather seasons. Most also do winter portraits or studio based portraits during the cool months but some do more and others do less of that.

Running a photographic business is more about running a business than it is about shooting photos. The most successful wedding photogs aren't necessarily the best shooters - they're the best sellers. Perhaps more than any area of freelance photography, wedding photography is about building relationships and doing what it takes to make the client feel good about their choice of photographer.

Yes, there is a sort of minimal level of competence needed photographically to make it work. But many clients don't have the eye to tell the difference between good and great wedding photos.

Most clients can tell when a photographer's work is phenomenal, and those are the photographers who are most in demand among the crowd willing to pay for that level of work. They're also the guys shooting perhaps the fewest dates per year among the established full-time pros in the area. It's not because they can't book more work, it's because they don't want to book more work. They tend to do more "destination" bookings that take them out of town, or even out of country. They also tend to spend more time in very detailed post processing were each delivered photo is treated as a stand alone portrait.

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It sounds like you are equating success with volume. The most successful photographers can pick and choose clients, venues, dates, and so on for both professional and personal reasons.

Being booked 52 weekends or more per year is not something that most would strive for. Instead, formulate a plan (I.e. business plan) around how many weekends per year you want to be booked, at the price you desire, with the clients/venues/parameters you desire, etc. - then you will know your own definition of success.

To directly answer your question, high volume wedding photographers can certainly be booked at least once every weekend - especially if you are in an area warm year round. This is common and of course happens especially with those that are charging little and overcompensating by increasing volume. But booking just to fill a schedule is often not the goal so many full time photographers still do not do weddings every weekend.

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How many weddings (with photographer) are performed every week at your place? How many wedding photographers are at your place? It should be easy to divide those numbers to get what percent of photographers are booked every week on average and follow StephenG's last paragraph advice.

And since the number of weddings usually varies a lot with seasons while the number of photographers remains fairy constant, expect that most photographers only get weddings during a few months a year.

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Try to get yourself noticed in as wide an advertising area as possible. Also try looking through sites such as People Per Hour where people often go advertising for and seeking wedding photographers etc. Don't expect clients to find you if those potential clients find 50 other photographers before they would ever find your details. Get online portfolios out there in as many places as possible.

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