Second shooter for wedding photographer helps capture bridal portraits

Is a Wedding Photography Mentor Right for You? 3 Signs It’s Time to Find One

It wasn’t too long ago that coaches and mentors weren’t widely talked about. And that left a lot of wedding photographers who were new to the industry feeling like they didn’t quite know what they were doing. 

They had to figure it all out on their own. 

Vic and I had to do that, too! Back in 2014 and 2015, coaches, mentors, even photography coaching programs, and courses hadn’t yet broken onto the scene. 

Fast forward to today, now there are so many resources you can use! Plenty of photographers who were once in the shoes of figuring it out on their own have now turned to education. 

We have, too, in case you haven’t heard 😉 

The reason? Because practically all of us, back when we started, wished we had a wedding photography mentor to help us through. To guide us along the way, instead of spending months or even years wondering if what we were doing would work. 

So, if you’re feeling like that now, then keep reading! Because we’re helping you uncover whether or not a coach is right for you:

Second shooter for wedding photographer helps capture bridal portraits

The (Sometimes Not-So-Pretty) Journey of a Wedding Photographer 

There are so many amazing benefits that come from being a wedding photographer. 

You get to be creative, which is especially important if you’re truly an artist at heart. 

You get to work for yourself, which for many artists is a game changer considering we crave a particular kind of freedom. 

And you get to work in an industry that focuses directly on celebrations! What’s more exciting than that? 

But there are some very real challenges that wedding photographers face at one point or another. Namely because artists and creatives in the “typical sense” don’t have to worry about learning the business side of things. But as a wedding photographer, you have to do both. You have to be an artist and a business mogul because that’s the foundation of creating a long-lasting business and sustainable profit. 

And these are all exacerbated the further along you go in your business without investing in coaching. After all, how are you supposed to know what you don’t know… unless you can lean on someone to guide you through? 

So if any one of these challenges sounds familiar, then you can probably take it as a sign to start looking for a photography mentor: 

This is a competitive market that’s likely not slowing down anytime soon

The wedding industry as a whole is a big one. And wedding photographers are definitely in demand because people do see the value in having their memories preserved. 

But the reality is that, compared to other business models, photography has a lower entry cost. That’s not to say that it’s not expensive or that you haven’t invested a lot in yourself! After all, as we progress in our businesses, we keep investing in better equipment. And that adds up over time! 

But to get started and still make money from shooting weddings? New photographers are doing it all the time with entry-level camera models. 

That means that you have to figure out how to break away from all of the other photographers you’re competing with so that you stand out to your ideal clients. But not understanding what makes you unique in such a crowded industry can leave you afraid of not getting booked or losing out on clients to competitors. 

(If you’re facing this right now, please know you’re not alone! And we have an awesome post all about how to pivot your brand to reach a new set of clients without feeling like you’re competing with everyone and their sister in the wedding photography industry.) 

Photographer captures photo of bride in Amangiri Utah elopement

You’re wearing more hats than at a royal wedding in England

As a wedding photographer with your own brand, you have two entirely different outfits (let alone hats): the artistic, photographer outfit. And the business outfit. 

With your business outfit on, you have every hat ever made for running a business. You have to build your packages in a way that keeps your business sustainable. You have to market yourself to bring in new clients, which also means that you have to be an in-house content creator, copywriter, web developer, graphic designer, and more. 

You have to be the guide to your clients when you book them and walk them through the entire onboarding and offboarding experience. And of course, you have to be your own bookkeeper. 

And with your artistic, photographer outfit — well, you’re the photographer! That looks like spending hours on your feet at a wedding with maybe a couple of five-minute breaks here and there. It means straining your eyes at a computer screen while you edit away. 

For so many photographers, the toll this takes on them is enough to lead to burnout and complete exhaustion. So much so that they don’t want to do it anymore. 

The feeling of walking on eggshells around your clients

As a newer business owner — or even someone who’s been in business for several years — it sometimes feels like you have no idea what you’re doing. That you’re making it up as you go. 

That can lead you to feeling like you’re walking on eggshells around your clients. You don’t want them to see, feel, or think that you’re unprofessional. And you don’t want to not meet their expectations. 

But all of the tiptoeing around, waiting for them to “find out” leads to so much anxiety and imposter syndrome. 

When you’re facing any one of these challenges (or all of them), it can take a toll on your mental health. It feels like you’re isolated and alone. It’s not like in a typical 9-5 office job, where you can chat with your co-workers or visit your boss to address certain concerns. 

When these pains go unaddressed, you might even feel like you have a complete lack of support. That can lead you to feeling disconnected from other photographers and even the industry altogether.  

Pretty much every wedding photographer faces these challenges at one point or another in their career. Even the great ones who have been in the game for years (if not decades, at this point) have probably experienced at least one of these at some point. 

But the difference between the wedding photographers who recognize that any one of these challenges are happening and break out of it, and those who decide that this niche isn’t for them, often lies in one thing: finding someone to help. 

That’s where finding a photography coach can help you shine! 

The Benefits of Mentorship and Coaching

There is so much benefit in photography mentorship and business coaching. You just have to find the right one for you. 

But first, let us explain how the right mentor can help you overcome any one of those challenges we visited up above:

Behind the scenes as Lilly Red, a photography mentor, photographs an engagement on a mountaintop

Feel calm and confident – no more walking on eggshells

Like we said earlier, anxiety and imposter syndrome have a way of creeping into your business. Especially if you feel like you “don’t know what you’re doing.” 

But that’s the magic of a wedding photography coach. 

First and foremost, they’ve been through that before when they were first building their businesses. So they can approach the situation with empathy because they know exactly how mentally taxing it can be. 

Second, they have experience in building frameworks and systems that work. Whether it’s building a sales funnel to get leads consistently, instead of going through the “feast or famine” cycle. Or it’s creating wedding photo packages that are irresistible to clients. 

They’ve done it all before. 

So by investing in a photography coach, you’re paying for the experience and expertise. They can dive into your packages, your sales funnels, and your client experience. They can tell you where things are falling short and tell you exactly how to improve them. They can even let you know what you’re doing right! There is so much power in reassurance and in the end, you’ll walk away feeling so much more confident in how you approach your clients and your business. 

You have a trusted advisor that you can turn to when challenges come up

One of the reasons why wedding photographers invest in a coach or a mentor is because they’re already facing challenges. 

But the reality of having a business is that you (and your business) will have growth spurts. And with that comes growing pains. 

A coach or mentor can help you through what you’re currently facing. But eventually, a new kind of challenge will come up. 

The difference between now and then? You don’t have to wait until you feel like you’re just barely keeping your head above water! You can address it head on by turning to your advisor. They can help you navigate the challenges of the industry and continue building a successful career. 

For example, right now your biggest challenge is your client experience. You want to make sure that you have a top-notch one so that your clients are nothing less than thrilled by the end of it! 

You try to DIY it, but you’re just not sure if it’s working “right” for you and your clients. After several attempts at doing it yourself, you decide to find a photography coach. 

Once you do, you and your coach figure it out together. They walk you through building the perfect onboarding and offboarding experience. They walk you through how to set up systems and workflows so you can have a faster turnaround time for your clients. And you’ve nailed it! 

6 months go by, and you realize now… your biggest challenge is breaking into a higher end niche of weddings. 
Instead of trying to do it all by yourself, you now have a mentor who can help you. Ultimately, that leads to way less anxiety and stress for you. And, you’ll more than likely break into that high end niche much faster than if you had tried to do it yourself.

Feel like you finally have support in the industry

Like we said earlier, entrepreneurship and business ownership can feel like walking a lonely road. The anxiety, the imposter syndrome…it can all lead to you feeling disconnected from the industry and altogether unsupported. 

But again, that’s where finding the right photography coach is such a game changer! They can help you navigate all of those feelings. They can be the shoulder you need to lean on and lift you with inspiration and motivation. 

In the end, you’ll have a much stronger sense of confidence and connection to the industry. You’ll finally feel like you do belong here – because you do! 

How to Find a Photography Mentor or Coach

Back in 2014 and 2015, when Vic and I were scaling up our brand, there weren’t a lot of resources out there for photographers. We had to really dig and research. Or (most of the time) we just had to figure it out on our own. 

Now, it’s like we’re on the opposite side of the same coin.

There is so much information out there. There are so many educational resources. There are plenty of photography mentors and coaches to choose from. And that becomes the struggle — how do you find a photography mentor? 

Let us help you with these tips: 

Find one who knows what they’re talking about 

Because there’s been such a shift in photographers turning to education, you have to do your research on who you’re investing in. 

Make sure they’ve been in your shoes before. Have they been in the wedding photography industry for 5+ years? Or have they only done one season or two and have since turned to educating? 

The ones who are experienced veterans will have more expertise to offer you because they’ve walked the same path! You’ll get more value from your investment that way. 

The coaches who have only been a photographer for a wedding season or two won’t have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate how to grow and scale your business.

Second photographer helps primary during wedding after learning how to become a second shooter for weddings

Decide what kind of style you need in a coach. Then tailor your photography mentor to that. 

There are all kinds of business coaches and photography coaches that specialize in certain styles. 

Some approach coaching and mentoring from a mindest perspective. That might mean they help you overcome limiting beliefs by helping you shift your frame of view. 

Other coaches focus on actionable steps and frameworks to help you break through challenges. 

There isn’t a right or wrong way to coach. There’s only a “right” and “wrong” when it comes to the style you prefer. If you’d rather have a step-by-step approach to business, then a coach who focuses primarily on mindset probably isn’t the best option for you. 

The key is to decide what kind of style you need in a coach. What will help you best? Then only focus on talking to coaches that specialize in that approach. 

Figure out your goals. Then find wedding photography mentors who have already achieved them. 

If you’re looking to be featured in major magazines or publications like Elle or Brides, then the best way to go about it is to find a mentor who’s already done it. 

If you’re wanting to break into high end weddings and higher budget couples, then the best way to do that is to find one who’s already taking those clients. 

Why? Because they’ve already taken the steps you’ll need to take. So who better to learn from? They’ll walk you through what has already worked! 

Think about what kind of coaching is best for you right now. Then research those options. 

Just like there are so many different styles of coaching, there are also different kinds of coaching. You have your pick of one on one coaching and mentoring, group coaching programs, and even go-at-your-own-pace courses. 

And just like with the styles of coaching, there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” kind of coaching to invest in. It all depends on what’s going to work best for you. 

If you have very nuanced challenges you’re facing, or you love getting a photography mentor’s sole focus, then one on one mentorships are probably an excellent choice. 

If you love the camaraderie of being in a group or if you think you’ll learn more from overcoming what you’re facing currently and what someone else is facing, then group coaching is a great option. 

And if you have a packed schedule or you want something you can come back to over and over again to refresh your memory, then a go-at-your-own-pace photography coaching course is perfect! 

No matter what kind of coaching is best for you, just always do your research in understanding whether or not the program is successful. Has the program gotten other photographers results based on their goals? 

Look for testimonials, and if you can’t find any, be sure to ask the coach if they can provide some!

Nowadays, there are plenty of photographers who have turned to educating other photographers on how to grow and scale their business. And we are glad to see it! Because back when Vic and I were starting out? There weren’t any good resources out there. 

Investing in a coach or a photography mentor can be the biggest game changer your business has ever seen. From helping you reduce any anxiety or imposter syndrome you may have, to helping you finally feel like you’re exactly where you belong in this industry, an amazing photography mentor or coaching program is worth its weight in gold. 

And after nearly a whole decade as wedding photographers, Vic and I also offer coaching to help you branch out into the destination wedding photography market! 

Whether you need just a quick question answered, you have a couple that you need to chat through, or you really need to dive in deep, we have a coaching program to help you! 

Explore more about Lilly Red Academy Coaching here!