The Best Wedding Photographer. Ever.
By Brian Idocks | Published
So, you're getting married, and you want to find the Best Wedding Photographer ever, right? Well... Don't believe everything you see on the Internet. Shocking, I know. I don't just mean what photographers say about themselves either. There are hundreds of websites out there selling awards, titles, and... credibility. Yes, I said it. Our industry is rife with hucksters, tricksters, slimeballs, and a few good people trying to make a living. Sadly, a lot of the things you will find out there are propaganda generated by a few big companies interested more in your money or that of a photographer than in actually promoting good, quality, respectable work and connecting that with clients looking for the same. Wait, what? There is no truth in advertising? Well... no, there is not. Sorry to burst that bubble right away, but I felt you needed to know. First, today, everyone and their brother claims to be the best, or premier (which makes me gag by the way), and they're using awards to back that up. Now.... there are dozens if not hundreds of ways to get a legitimate award. Let me list a few: In our area: Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association tappa.org/ Bay Professional Photographers Association www.bppafl.com/ Florida Professional Photographers fpponline.org/ National and International: Professional Photographers of America www.ppa.com/ Wedding and Portrait Photographers International www.wppionline.com/index.shtml Fearless Photographers www.fearlessphotographers.com/ Wedaward, International Wedding Photography Awards wedaward.com/ The Wedding Photographer Society weddingphotographersociety.com/ Now... this is not an exhaustive list. But... beware the traps! There are companies out there that will give you an award just for buying a hunk of glass. They cleverly send emails (SPAM anyone?) to business people claiming they are chosen for some prestigious title. I kid you not. Then, for just three payments of $19.95.... or something like that, you too can have your own shiny award saying how great you are. How to know? Well... for one, if someone has a real award, they probably say where it came from. Google is your friend. If you can't find their name on a list somewhere, they probably didn't really EARN an award, they may have bought it. Also... credibility of awards. To me, as a creative professional, if my peers, or a panel of judges didn't vote for this award, I didn't earn it. Sounds simple, right? All the sites listed above offer some form of competition and from there, photographers can enter and earn recognition for their work. That, to me, is how you separate yourself from the pack. I've earned hundreds of awards this way, and guess what? I never paid a dime for any of them, and yes, you can look them up, and find them online. Okay... enough about awards, essentially, use your judgement, and use your search engine. Saying "I'm an award winning photographer" just isn't enough. Show me those awards, then I'll believe you. Next up.... "Top Photographer Lists" This one irritates me. I actually saw a major News Network article that was titled, "(Network Name)'s List of the Top Ten Best Wedding Photographers in Tampa". First... why would they do that article? Second... did they really check out the thousands of photographers? I highly doubt it. There's another website that shows up really high in Google searches (I won't name names but... think "pushpin"), that likes to say, "Here is the definitive list of the BEST WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS IN (Name your area)". Now... I really hope people realize this is just simply not true. I've looked at those lists, and, to be honest, I have never heard of half the people listed. I mean, I've been a Professional Wedding Photographer in this area for about 15 years now... if you were that good, I'd have heard of you. So... how do you get on these lists? Money, the root of all evil. Yes, money will create Top Ten lists faster than David Letterman's writing staff. Money will make you the best Wedding Photographer ever.... wait... hold the phone. Really? Sadly, this is what marketing today has come to. The internet does not hold you to the truth anymore. So many people want to get ahead and are willing to do nearly anything, and there are companies out there more than happy to take their money. This is really, really bad for our industry and for our clients. After all, we require trust and respect to do the best job as a Wedding Photographer, and... buying our way onto a "Top Ten" list isn't a great first step. So... what's the takeaway from this one? Ehh, if it's not a Photographic Organization giving the list out, proceed with caution, and do your homework. Google, trust me, it works. I'm seeing a common theme. Next: "Bridal Sites" You know them, you love them, you hate them, whatever... everyone looks at them. I can't name names but... let's just say they're all "tied" to the same theme. They all charge photographers (and sometimes brides!) to advertise on their site. They offer sometimes helpful, but usually impractical advice and overcomplicate weddings in general. They make brides feel like they need "more" at their wedding. They push people to overspend and expand their budgets. Why? All in the name of... you guessed it: MONEY. They are not in the business of helping brides, they are in the business of selling advertising. Plain and simple. Use your judgement, just because someone is listed doesn't mean they're good, it means they paid. Oh! Their "awards", this gets me. They claim only the top 2% or something can claim an award... well, here's a secret: If someone listed gets just a few reviews (good or bad!) or pays more money, they get one of those little squares for their website. Yeah, 2%? Well, considering only about 5% of working professional photographers pay to be listed on the site.... 40% of them get a few reviews... yep, their numbers work out.