This is not a sales pitch.  It is an educational opportunity for Brides that have been misled for ages.  Read...only if you are looking for real, honest insight.  You might just be surprised!

Let us start by saying that each bride should understand that the wedding business is a billion dollar industry.  That said, there are scores of vendors that will be approaching you for your business.  Navigating through what is legitimate and what isn’t can be a daunting task… but no worries!  We’re here to support you as you make important decisions.  Here are few things that you must know about Wedding Photographers and Bridal Shows as you prepare for your big day.   

So here we go...  

BRIDAL SHOW VALIDATION:  Most bridal shows do not have a credentialing or validation process for ANY of it’s vendors.  This means that ANYONE with a DSLR Camera can obtain a photography booth at a bridal show whether they know what they are doing or not!  This means that if YOU, as the bride, wanted to purchase booth space and sell a service, most bridal shows will gladly take your money and provide you with an exhibitor table and badge.  Keep in mind that the wedding business is a business and show owners don’t necessarily care about credentials.  They are maximizing their profit by selling an advertisement.  This also applies to popular wedding service sites that routinely sell “AD Space”.  There is no business license, insurance, or certification requirements.  You MUST be careful, do your research and ensure that you are getting a professional.


TYPE OF PHOTOGRAPHER:  You probably wouldn’t go to an eye doctor for knee pain or hire a criminal defense attorney when you need a personal injury lawyer.  In Photography, the same concept applies.  Make sure that you are hiring an actual Wedding Photographer and not another type of photographer that woke up and said “hey, I can shoot weddings too…”  Some studio photographers that primarily shoot models or babies mostly indoors under constant lighting conditions are not recommended as Wedding Photographers.  Look for CREDENTIALED or CERTIFIED photographers that ALSO shoot in as many locations/conditions as there isn’t always time to set up lighting for the perfect picture.  Ensuring that you have an EXPERIENCED, CERTIFIED WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER is your best choice.

CREDENTIALS:  Is this photographer experienced, certified, both or neither?  As we know, experience has it’s own definition, but based on a chart (above) provided by a private independent surveyor of a well respected online wedding site surveying two of the nations largest bridal shows, the information illustrates that there is a record-high number of inexperienced or non-credentialed photographers out there, but most photographers specifically at bridal shows (a whopping 90%) are hobbyists that are self-taught photographers or photographers that declined the opportunity to provide a response to the question “What are your credentials?”  The statistics should help brides to be better informed as they select a media professional to manage the photography services on the most important day of their life.


YOUR PRIVACY: Your email address is requested when you plan to attend a bridal show and is normally required prior to entering the bridal show.  This means that at the conclusion of  each bridal show, each bride will most certainly be bombarded with over a 100 emails from vendors through an email marketing campaign.  These vendors use these emails, aka “leads,” to contact the bride and further attempt to sell their services.  This is just part of the business package provided from Bridal Shows and if most photographers could only purchase the leads, they would.


MISREPRESENTATION:  Many times, the images you see at the bridal shows are not REAL wedding day images.  The images that are on display are carefully picked out of tens of thousands and are often placed in image editing software to create an amazing look.  This one image is not representative of what your COMPLETE portfolio will look like.  ANY photographer that you decide to work with should have at least five FULL, UNEDITED portfolios with over 250 images from ONE wedding.  This review will allow you to see what their image quality is prior to going to the editing room.  This is a standard that quality firms should be able to provide for you without question or hesitation.  It shows a benchmark of their quality work, shows a bit of volume/trust and displays to the bride that they can shoot in various lighting conditions without the use of extensive lighting gear.  Ensure that two of the portfolio’s are outdoor weddings as shooting outdoors can present challenges that aren't always discussed up front.


CLEARLY DEFINED RATES:  Justifying a Wedding Photographer's rate can be confusing and not explained clearly, even by the photographer themselves.  Believe it or not, ask a photographer at a bridal show a simple question such as “What is your hourly rate?” and many cannot tell you what their hourly rate is without going into the mechanics of justifying what ALL they have to do to run their business.  Get their rate.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT:  Believe it or not, your wedding day is a project.  It has a beginning and an end.  There is planning, initiation, execution and delivery.  The average client - photographer relationship can average from 9 to 18 months and can be one of the most intimate relationships with a vendor that you’ll have for your wedding day.  The Wedding Photographer is also the only vendor that will work with you BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER your wedding day.  Simply put, many photographers do not have the tools/platform, storage requirements, financial tracking, and not to mention, PATIENCE to successfully manage a wedding project, hence why you see so many "FirstName-LastName Photography" companies come and go.


MEDIA MANAGEMENT:  A Wedding Photographer is working with, on average, anywhere from 500 - 1500 images from each wedding with each image ranging from 18mb - 30mb per image!  Let’s start in the middle and say you have two photographers that take 1800 images combined from your wedding project with the average single image file being 22mb, that is over 38gb for one wedding project!  With many photographers performing multiple weddings throughout the year, it’s very important to ensure that they have the basic IT knowledge on how to back-up and provide safeguard measures for images that CANNOT be replaced.  Many photographers do not provide on-site, off-site and external storage as they should (which simply helps to protect your portfolio and ensure redundancy of your files).  Ask the photographer that you are considering what measures are taken to ensure safety of your files.


Johnny West, Owner - ArtsGroup Photography and Cinema


Johnny West is an experienced and Certified Professional Photographer based out of Dallas TX and Washington DC.  Johnny is a former Navy IT Manager, USO Event Manager, and Navy Photographer for USO events in support of our troops.  He also has 20 years of Project and IT Management experience.  ArtsGroup currently shoots over 60 wedding events a year.


ArtsGroup Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.