Most of my customers enter a completely new market when it comes to wedding photography. Probably you will have already noticed that the market of wedding photographers is extremely huge and unclear. I would like to give you with a brief market-orientation, as objective as possible. At first, 3 simple hints how to find a suitable wedding photographer:
1) It is crucial that you like the style of the photographer. Check the photographer’s website. Do you like the first wedding photos in the start slideshow? Do you like the style of the website? What’s your first impression? If you don’t like the beginning, it’s unlikely you’ll like the rest.
2) If the first impression is positive, go ahead and browse through the portfolio of the photographer. The portfolio is always the heart of any photographer and consists of the best pictures of the most beautiful weddings the photographer ever shot. The photos you’ll see there tell sth. about the style of the photographer. These photos should overwhelm you, because if this is not the case it is highly unlikely that you’ll get the desired photos from your wedding from this photographer.
3) Next go to the blog of the photographer, because this basically is her or his journal. Do you like the series of pictures she or he takes at weddings? At the same time you can check the “about” section to get a better impression of the photographer. If everything is positive so far, contact the photographer and/or arrange a personal meeting.
Aside from the above mentioned factors, which are all matter to personal taste, there are more objective criteria to find a good wedding photographer:
1) Awards and prizes: Did the photographer win awards or prizes for her/his work? Is she/he a member in renowned photographer’s associations? We will write more about this topic later but for now let’s just say that it always tells something about the motivation of a photographer if she/he has an ambition to show her/his pictures to an international audience of experts.
2) Testimonials and feedbacks from former bridal couples: Every wedding photographer of course likes to post positive feedbacks from her/his customers on their website, facebook and/or google etc. Try to read between the lines of these feedbacks. A 5star google feedback like “great guy, great work, always again” will surely not come from a true happy customers, but will be fake. Serious true feedbacks are always individually related and generally include several lines of text. Last but not least, it will be important for you to check if you see yourself on the same level as the author of the feedback or testimonial. For this purpose, real testimonials often provide a link to the blogpost or picture gallery of the wedding of the authors. This makes it just more transparent for you.
As already announced I’d like to tell you sth. about wedding photo contests and memberships in certain associations. There is no other photographic genre with such a broad choice of different associations, rankings and competitions as wedding photography. Especially, in the past 5 years new national and international associations for wedding photographers sprang up like mushrooms. Almost every associations hosts photo contests liable to pay costs for their limited customer circle consisting of wedding photographers. This became quite a lucrative business! Why? Because the motivation to win awards and gain references in an unclear market is extremely big. But what sense does it make to win prizes in insignificant competitions against mediocre competitors? I’m very skeptical about this development, because is makes an already foggy market even more foggy.
Since the beginning of my career as a wedding photographer I’ve been a member of the two most renowned, biggest and oldest associations of professional wedding photographers on an international level:
1) International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP)
2) Fearless Photographers
Only occasionally I participate in the regular competitions, because it is exciting to see one’s own pictures in comparison with the world’s best wedding photographers. It also prevents to be blinkered by your own work. The photographers winning in the competitions of these associations did at least compete against numerous international competitors and their winning pictures were judged by an international jury consisting of professional wedding photographers.
Wedding photography is a market prone to change. All of us deal with one-time customers. Thus, it is impossible to build up a solid base returning customers (which is good on the other side! :-)) In such a fast market only long-term competence with a continuous high level of quality can prevail. Luckily, I successfully placed more than 50 wedding pictures in the most significant international contests in over six years in a row. In the current Fearless lifetime ranking of 2018 I’m listed among the TOP 3 wedding photographers in Germany.