Andrew Russell Photo

I put a lot of consideration into whether or not I should even make this post. I’m really not concerned with what other photographers do, or don’t do.

But I hate to see the actions of a few feed the perception that everybody – including those of us who work hard to provide great photography, customer service, and value to their clients – operates in an unprofessional manner.

After speaking with a number of brides – it goes with the territory – it seems that just about everybody has a story of a sister or friend who got burned by their photographer.

There’s a lot of talk about people entering the field of wedding photography since the start of the digital revolution. While there are no doubt some talented individuals getting started, there are plenty of horror stories about photographers delivering poor-quality pictures, or flaking out and not delivering photos at all.

I come to a wedding with my Nikon D3 and D700, lenses, several flashes, and other gear. They’re professional grade cameras and give outstanding results.

Big deal. You can get great photos with a Nikon D90 or Canon Rebel – both of which are less than $1000. The barriers to entry into the field are fairly low.

What happens if one of my cameras breaks? Well, I’ve still got the other one AND I’ve got backup equipment in the car.

It’s part of the preparation that goes into properly covering an event: My gear is insured. I back up my digital files in several places. I carry liability insurance. My business is registered with the state. I pay taxes on income. I collect sales tax. Etc., etc.

The point is that there is a lot more to being a responsible business person than having a camera and a website.

To that end, I’m pleased to say that I’ve recently joined a couple of professional organizations.

The International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers ( is an exclusive directory of wedding photographers. They require references from other professional photographers and recommendations from brides before you’re allowed in. ISPWP is only open to professionals who have shot at least 50 weddings as the primary photographer and they review your portfolio before approving membership.

There’s also a code of conduct that members must abide by. It’s really about the things I was talking about above – applying the industry’s best practices to your business.

I’m also excited about being among the first to join the newly-formed Pittsburgh chapter of the International Special Events Society (ISES). ISES is all about raising the bar for all members through education, cooperation, and cultivating high standards of business practices.

This is great news for brides, and really anybody who is planning a special event with vendors who are ISES members. It means that your photographer and other vendors are operating according to professional standards and as a result are comfortable working with one another.

That’s it for now. I’ve got a great wedding this Saturday with Kristin and Justin that I’m really excited about. I’ve got a new assistant, Caroline, who I’m very much looking forward to working with. The ceremony is at beautiful Heinz Chapel and the reception aboard the Gateway Clipper. Check back on Sunday by which time (hopefully) I’ll have posted a couple of my favorites from the day.