Are we the Best Wedding Photographers? Seems like everyone makes that claim. I'm not that arrogant or elitist. I know something they don't, and I'll tell you about it in a bit. What makes a Wedding Photographer "The Best"? Sure, if you go on Google, and search for "best wedding photographers", you will get inundated by websites claiming to house the "10 best wedding photographers in [insert city of choice here]". But... are they telling you the truth?
In most every instance, the answer is a resounding.... "NO!". Most of those lists have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the people on their sites. They sold them space on their list, plain and simple. There was no check on quality, there was no interview process. Don't be fooled into believing them! Here's a reality check: I've been a Wedding Photographer in Tampa Bay for about 17 years now. When I look at those lists, I recognize maybe 1 or 2 names out of 10. Now, I'm just sayin', if they are "the best wedding photographers", don't you think I just might have actually heard of them? I keep my ear to the ground, so to speak, and I know the major players in our industry. Not one of them are. That's just a fact. They paid to be listed among the best, and it's likely not even the Photographer's fault. They just paid for advertising and fell for the hype.
Okay, enough bitching!
What would be criteria for being the Best Wedding Photographers anyway? How would you judge that?
Awards and Accomplishments are a start, if not the end all be all. They do say a lot about credibility within the industry. Just make sure they're real awards, and not just a lucite plaque they paid 3 installments of $49.99 to be listed. Yeah, sad, but this happens. Usually those are named things like, "Best in Tampa", or the like, since the company just makes these "awards" for anyone in any city willing to pay.
Oh, if you want to know our Awards and Accomplishments, here's a list:
Kodak Gallery Award for Photographic Excellence
Professional Photographers of America, “Photographer of The Year”, TWO times.
Professional Photographers of America “Craftsman Photographer”, a lifetime title.
Professional Photographers of America “Certified Professional Photographer”
Professional Photographers of America- I have a photo in the prestigious Permanent Loan Collection.
Keynote speaker for Ohio Professional Photographers Annual Convention.
Florida Professional Photographers “Top Ten Photographers”, THREE years in a row.
Florida Professional Photographers “Degree of Photographic Excellence”, a lifetime award.
Florida Professional Photographers- Chosen as a mentor TWICE to offer training to other Professional Photographers.
Florida Professional Photographers- Instructor at “The Florida School” for Professional Photographers
Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association “Photographer of the Year” THREE years in a row.
Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association “Wedding Photographer of the Year” THREE years in a row.
Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association “Portrait Photographer of the Year” TWICE.
Bay Professional Photographers Association “Photographer of the Year” TWICE.
Battle of the Bays (TAPPA and BPPA combined) “Best in Show Image”
Rochester Institute of Technology “Master of Fine Arts, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences”
Rochester Institute of Technology “Bachelor of Fine Arts, Graphic Design”
Professional Photographers of America- Derica ALSO has an image in the Permanent Loan Collection!
Florida Professional Photographers “Best in Show, Electronic Imaging”
Florida Professional Photographers “Florida Education Degree”
Atlantic Professional Photographers Association “Photographer of the Year” TWO years in a row.
Atlantic Professional Photographers Association “Rising Star of the Year”
Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association “Electronic Imaging Artist of the Year”
And if that's not enough, here's more as a team...
Wedding Wire Couple's Choice Award for 2015 and 2016.
Published numerous times in various wedding blogs and magazines including Marry Me Tampa Bay.
Our photographs have won literally HUNDREDS of awards, through Professional Print Competitions.
Over the years, we've been members of:
Professional Photographers of America
Southeast Professional Photographers
Association of Bridal Consultants
Florida Professional Photographers
Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association
Atlantic Professional Photographers Association
Bay Professional Photographers Association
Professional Photographers Guild of Mid-Florida
Bay Area Bridal Association
Pretty convincing stuff, huh? Here's the cool part, you can actually look up all of those and find them. Mhm, full disclosure and transparency around here.
Does that make us the "Best" though? Ehh, I don't think so. How about longevity and experience? How's 40 years of experience and a few thousand weddings sound? Impressive right? It should be. That's not me being cocky either. Ask around, ask your prospective photographer how many weddings they've photographed. I've seen folks brag about shooting... 50, 100, and up to about 300 or 400. Larger companies muddy this water by having multiple teams that shoot weddings, so they might say 1,000 or so.
But... has YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER shot that many? In most cases, no, not even close.
Sure, everyone today can take a decent photo, or so it seems. But, can they produce 500? 700? even 800 or more great memories that tell a story during the stress, hustle and bustle of a wedding day all the while keeping people happy? That's where experience comes into play.
Is experience the answer? Hrm, it's a slice of the pie, like awards.
Natural talent, that has GOT to be what makes the "Best Wedding Photographer". Ehh, it's another slice. I can brag all day about how talented I am, I can go on and on about being "passionate", the new buzz word in photography. The truth is, I make a living as a Wedding Photographer, both Derica and myself support ourselves fully from this. We don't have "day jobs", this is our day, evening, and weekend job. We, in all honesty are pretty darn good at it, and love making people happy in the pursuit of wedding photography.
Do we have natural talent? Gobs of it. Just ask us, we'll tell ya.
How can you know? Look around this very site you're on. That's a great start.
Oh, remember earlier when I said I'd let you in on the secret that I know and all those other photographers out there don't? Well, sorry to burst that bubble, but... there's no secret. Well, not -that- kind of secret. Just a truth.
Here's the truth: There is a Wedding Photographer for everyone. The Best Wedding Photographer is the one you connect with, the one you like as a person, the one whose work speaks to you. The choice is personal, and don't let some advertiser make it for you. Look at their work, if you love it, research more on them. If the images on their site don't speak to you on a romantic and personal level, move on, since... presumably, that is their best work. However, if you love them, dig deeper, meet the photographer, and build a relationship.
That's the secret to being the Best Wedding Photographer. Being the right Wedding Photographer for you.
Thanks for reading,