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We help people take great photos and build profitable businesses that change lives. We’re high school sweethearts, former elementary school teachers and professional photographers. We're experts at making the complex feel simple and believe education is serious business, but learning should be fun.

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5 Reasons Shooting Portraits Made Us Better Wedding Photographers

When we talk with new photographers, too often, there’s this moment. It happens so much that we can almost see it coming before it happens. Where they’re body language changes. Where they start to look down, and away, as if they’re ashamed or embarrassed. It’s the moment when they tell us they want to be wedding photographers, but they’ve either never shot a wedding, or they’ve shot so few that they don’t feel like wedding photographers. They feel more like frauds, telling people that’s what they do (or love to do) when they actually don’t. At least not yet. For the record, early in our career, we felt that exact same way, too. We wanted to be specialists, and shoot weddings exclusively, but instead, we were saying yes to whatever portraits came our way. Family sessions, graduating seniors, newborns, realtor headshots, birthday parties, and everything in between. Every once in a while, we got a wedding, too.

And that was OKAY.

It was more that okay.

It was exactly the way it was supposed to be and how it should’ve been.

Because that’s how it is. Not just in photography, but in all professions.

Nobody starts out by specializing in the thing they love.

World famous chefs don’t start be specializing in one type of cuisine. They start by cooking for their families and friends in their own kitchen. Then they move on to culinary school, where they learn how to make everything. Then, they get hired to work in another chef’s kitchen. Just chopping the vegetables. Or just preparing the sauces or desserts. Then, years later, when they’re running their own five-star French restaurant where they specialize in specific dishes and don’t cook anything they don’t want to anymore… they tell all the other chefs that’s the way to start — at the top!

Just kidding.

Unfortunately, though, that’s the message a lot of new photographers are hearing today from photographers who’ve already made it.

Specialize. Specialize. SPECIALIZE!

So new photographers are embarrassed and filled with self-doubt. Like, What’s wrong with me that I’m shooting all these different things while “everyone else” was able to specialize in what they love right away?  

Nothing.

Nothing is wrong with you.

The Internet either isn’t telling you the truth. Or they’re not telling you the whole truth.

If we could sit across a table from you today, we would ask you to pick your head up and look us in the eye so that we could tell you that you’re doing exactly what you should be doing. You’re doing just fine. And you should be proud of it! You’re learning a brand new skill as an adult. You might even be starting a business! That takes guts. You’re stepping out in faith and building something from nothing. It’s okay if you’re not doing exactly what you want to be doing every session just yet.

If you’re struggling with self-doubt or feeling down about where you are with photography right now (or your life), we wrote these posts for you: 

1. A Letter to New Photographers

2. Advice for New Photographers

3. Three Myths About Success

Yes, over time, specialization is important, but you don’t be come a specialist over night. We sure didn’t. We shot our first wedding together in 2011 — and only shot TWO weddings that year. Is it because we only wanted to shoot two weddings? No way! It was because that was the most we could book. If we hadn’t taken other kinds of work, like family sessions and senior portraits, we would’ve clocked in a grand total of eighteen hours on the job that entire year. Let us say that again, if would’ve specialized in weddings our first year and refused to do other work, we would’ve only gotten eighteen hours of experience with real clients that year.

While some specialists, especially wedding photographers, might argue that the earlier you specialize, the better. We’d encourage you to do something different, what we did.

In the early years, shoot as much as you possibly can. At the beginning, most of the work might not be what you ultimately want to shoot. Then, as the years go on, and you start getting more of the work you really want and love, stop dropping one type of session at a time (as you can afford it). For us, newborns was the first to go. God bless newborn photographers. They’re saints of human beings and should get a medal for their patience. Families were next. We did that until we were left with the things we love to shoot most: weddings, engagements, anniversaries and maternity sessions. But it didn’t happen all at once.

So, if you want to shoot weddings but don’t have bookings enough to specialize yet, read these posts:

1. How to Start Shooting Weddings

2. Three Tips for Shooting Your First Wedding

Then, take heart. We think shooting tons of portrait sessions, and lots of different types of portraits, made us way better wedding photographers.

Here are five reasons why shooting portraits made us better wedding photographers:

1. We learned how to interact with all kinds of people

On a wedding day, we aren’t just interacting with our bride and groom. We’re part of the family for the day, which means we’re interacting with and photographing people of all ages. We’re photographing ring bearers barely old enough to walk, junior bridesmaids who barely have a driver’s license and grandparents who can barely believe their babies’ babies are getting married. Our years of shooting portraits for clients of all different ages helped give us the experience we needed to serve everyone well, and be able to do it quickly, effectively and, sometimes, on the fly.

5 Reasons Shooting Portraits Made Us Better Wedding Photographers

2. We honed our posing skills

Every time we photographed a couple during a portrait session, whether they were engaged or had been married for thirty years, we viewed it as an opportunity to hone in on our posing. Wedding days are fast-paced and unpredictable. Every minute counts. But portrait sessions allowed us more time to think without all the pressure. We had time and safety to try new things there, which made us stronger photographers when the extra pressure of a wedding day arrived.

If you need help with posing, you can watch our free online posing class here.

5 Reasons Shooting Portraits Made Us Better Wedding Photographers

3. We earned the money we needed to purchase wedding gear

Before we got married, we read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and committed to living our lives debt-free. That was, is and always will be one of the greatest blessings of our marriage. If you haven’t read it yet, whether you’re married or not, after the Bible, it’s the next book we’d encourage you to read. We knew we wanted Dave Ramsey’s principles (no debt) to carry over into our business, too, which meant we had to save up money to buy one piece of equipment at a time. Cash. No credit. No loans. We taught elementary school full-time during the day, and Jordan coached youth soccer at our church on nights and weekends to earn extra money that we could put toward gear. We used everything we made shooting portraits to purchase gear, too.

* Here’s a complete list of our photography gear and favorite business books.

5 Reasons Shooting Portraits Made Us Better Wedding Photographers

4. We learned to find light anywhere and everywhere

When you say “yes” to all kinds of jobs, you get put in all kinds of situations. Shooting portraits helped us learn how to find the best light anywhere we went, and adapt to whatever surroundings we were thrown in… and make it look good! We’re so thankful for all the experience and confidence that we built during portrait sessions.

If you need help with finding good natural light no matter where you are, click here to watch our free class about that!

5 Reasons Shooting Portraits Made Us Better Wedding Photographers

5. We expanded our reach

Shooting portraits introduced us to so many people we had never met before and expanded our network. Our portrait clients have been some of our best referral sources, and we’ve even had some portrait work evolve into future weddings! One of the most special moments for us was getting to photograph the wedding of one of our very first graduating senior portrait clients. It’s official. We’re getting old!

5 Reasons Shooting Portraits Made Us Better Wedding Photographers

So if you’re out there today and you’ve been feeling discouraged about the type of work that’s coming your way, we hope this is just what you needed to hear! Keep shooting portraits. Proudly. Love and serve your clients well. The rest will take care of itself!

Hey, We're Amy & Jordan!

We’re professional photographers who help people take better photos! Join us for a free online training and we’ll show you some of our favorite photography secrets that anyone can use!

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  1. Catie says:

    Thank you for putting this post out there! This is exactly what is going on with my business, and it’s so easy to feel like you’re failing at something you want so badly. Love you guys!

  2. Raygan says:

    LOVE, love you two!!! I DREAM about coming out to Arizona for your workshop; one day very soon!! Love y’all!! xoxo

  3. Elizabeth G says:

    I’m fairly new to following your blog and just had to thank you for this brilliant post! I really needed to read this today. So glad it popped up in my Facebook feed!

  4. Kayla Illies says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m working hard to specialize in weddings, elopements, and engagements but like you said, I was feeling “less than” because I’m not there yet where I’m booking 15-30 weddings a year like I’m aiming for. I have two on the books for next year and I’m still trying to learn how to market to brides but I have NO idea really how to do that. It was something they never taught us when I went to college to become a photographer. Plus in the midst of ALL THE MILLIONS of education blog posts that are out there and trying to figure out which ones are the best ones for me, makes it even harder. Since I’ve seen you speak at WPPI I have been on your email list and I’m so thankful to have found you guys! You’re both amazing and such inspirations to look up to! Thank you for that!

  5. Sherry Alberto Sanchez says:

    Since I started receiving your wonderful emails and watching your videos, I’ve been very excited to know better and be better at my business and my skills. And I bought two of the books you recommended… The Money Makeover and Quitter. Thank you!

    And later today I have an engagement session and I will be using the Expodis ????

  6. Rachel says:

    This is so important!
    My dream is to shoot weddings, but as I’m still new to the business aspect of all this, I’m trusting the process–every portrait session gets me one step closer!

  7. Ashlie says:

    Beautiful Website and great insight! Thanks for all the valuable information. Love your work

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hey, we're amy & jordan!

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"I always look forward to your emails! I get excited every time I get an email notification that says 'Amy & Jordan!' Even though we've never formally met, you guys have pretty much become the photography mentor I've never had!" 

- priscilla T. 

"I LOVEEE the Monday Minute and I look forward to it every week!"

- brianna c.

"The Monday Minute has seriously changed the way I look at my business! In the last year, my business has completely changed and evolved and I know that it's greatly due to my time 'spent' with the two of you!" 

- nicole B.

"Best year of my life! (Photography-wise!)" 

- naomi D. 

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