What makes a great photographer?

I originally wrote this article for The American Wedding Guide. I'd love to get your feedback on it!

<- Here's my image on the cover of the January 2015 issue.

In an age when everyone has a camera in their pocket, it’s no surprise that many have discovered the joy of photography. Some do it for fun, some are die-hard enthusiasts, and some are even budding professionals, but is one photographer as good as the next? With so many options, it can be difficult to identify the differences between them. Let’s take a look at a few things that make a photographer best qualified to photograph you and your wedding.

Consistency is the first thing to look for in a photographer. Any photographer can take a decent photo under perfect conditions, and we’ve all gotten that pretty snapshot at sunset on the beach, but a wedding isn’t quite so easy. Despite the changing people, locations, and lighting, a great wedding photographer should have a portfolio with a uniform look and feel throughout. Their work shouldn’t rely on gimmicks or digital enhancements to mask poor technique, and further, they shouldn’t be afraid to show you a full wedding gallery. While weddings are always unpredictable and short on time, a great wedding photographer can handle it all.

A photographer’s personality is the next thing to consider. When you have to spend an entire day with them, with their camera constantly pointed at you, it’s important that you mesh well together. If they’re loud and energetic, but you’re more reserved, how will that affect your level of comfort in front of the camera? How will that affect the photos? You should feel relaxed and confident as they provide direction, encouragement and reassurance throughout the process. At the same time, they should be able to command the attention of a group, like when doing family and bridal party photos. Regardless of your photographer’s natural demeanor, they must be able to adapt and get along with all sorts of people, which they’ll surely encounter at your wedding.

Finally, a great photographer can idealize any situation. When inspiration isn’t readily available, instead of feeling defeated, they still find ways to produce beautiful images. They look at the corner of a messy hotel room and see the perfect place for a quiet portrait, or a dark banquet hall as an opportunity to create their own light. By remaining optimistic and enthusiastic, they can see potential where others see limitations. With the right skills and attitude, a great photographer will never run out of options.

I’ll end by simply saying, please hire a professional. Make sure they have backup equipment, insurance, and provide you with a contract. Some couples look to friends or students to save money on their wedding photos, but consider this: When a friend photographs your wedding, they can’t also enjoy it as a guest, and if things go wrong, will the friendship suffer? With a student, can you fully trust them to deliver great photos in spite of all of the challenges and surprises of your wedding? Only you can decide what’s best for you and your wedding, but at least now you know what makes a photographer truly great.


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