Only The Best: What It Takes To Become An ISPWP Wedding Photographer

Posted by Admin on April 25th 2018

ISPWP has been setting the bar high for wedding photographers since 2008. Because wedding photography is an unregulated industry, we knew there was a need for an organization that helped bridal couples to find qualified wedding professionals. There are many facets to wedding photography; it takes not only skill and experience, but you must also be a smart businessperson. ISPWP set out to create a directory that helped define the best photographers in the world in one easy to use directory.

Unlike pay-to-play directories, ISPWP takes the time and effort to review and vote for every applicant to help ensure that every member meets our high standards for talent and experience. To be an ISPWP photographer, they must meet the following criteria:

Applicants must have photographed a minimum of 50 weddings as the primary in-charge photographer. Weddings shot as a second, or backup photographer do not count. This is the minimum experience requirement, many ISPWP members have shot hundreds of weddings with decades of experience. Some of our members are Pulitzer prize finalists and winners.

Why do we care so much about experience? Ask any experienced wedding photographer and they will tell you that their early weddings were all learning experiences and they definitely improved over time. Wedding photography is a very demanding discipline, the photographer must capture documentary style (photojournalistic) photos of real moments during the wedding, formal style portraits of families, creative portraiture of the couple, and action photos at the reception. They must know how to handle unpredictable and changing weather and light situations, ambient and artificial lighting, and for the most part without any chance of re-shoots, so there is no room for error. And all of this during a non-stop day that often means being on your feet for 8 hours or more. Experience is essential to truly master all aspects of wedding photography, and we believe that after shooting a minimum of 50 weddings, a photographer has proven their worth, learned many lessons, and become a better photographer.

Applicants must submit their website and three wedding galleries for review and evaluation. The online galleries must demonstrate artistic and technical ability. The portfolio must include a minimum of three galleries depicting coverage of three separate weddings. This allows the Membership Approval Team to evaluate how the applicant shots a typical wedding from beginning to end. If the submitted galleries show only selected favorites from a variety of multiple weddings, or if they are limited to creative bridal portraits with no other wedding coverage, the application will need to resubmit new galleries for review.

Applicants must agree to operate by the ISPWP Code of Conduct. The standards of practice in the Code of Conduct protect both the photographer and the client and assures the client they are dealing with an ethical professional business with highest of standards. If we see an ongoing pattern of complaints about a member from their clients, membership may be revoked.

Applicants must be sponsored by an existing ISPWP member, or they must submit two client references and two wedding photographer references. This provides evidence as to their professionalism, reputation, and experience.

If they meet these criteria, the applicant is reviewed and voted on by a rotating board of 20 ISPWP members. One of the conditions of ISPWP membership is being willing to take on the responsibility to review new applicants, so they are a part of upholding the standards of excellence in the wedding photography industry. 

Currently, about 20-30% of photographers who apply are rejected. We believe the rejection rate is affected by photographers who refrain from applying in the first place because they know they don't meet our minimum standards (yet). Most of the rejected applications are for not meeting standards such as:
The photographer does not have a good mastery of light or composition.
The photographer shows no creativity or advanced photo techniques. 
The photographer has poor post-production of images such as poor color balance, cropping or images being consistently too dark or too light.
The photographer's website has very few wedding galleries on it.
The photographer's website doesn't work.
The photographer's website is too difficult to navigate, or too slow to view any images.

The ISPWP is proud of the high standards we have set for our members and we enjoy showcasing and promoting the best wedding photographers in the world. When you choose an ISPWP photographer, you know you are hiring a real wedding professional to capture your wedding memories.

Apply Today to Participate in the ISPWP Spring Contest

If you are a photographer and you wish to apply for membership, we would encourage you to apply TODAY in order to have time to be reviewed and voted upon in time to participate in our Spring contest that has a deadline of April 30. Please submit your application by April 27 at the latest. We look forward to reviewing YOUR application!

(Photo by Lukas Guillaume, Miami, Florida wedding photographer)

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