*and why they’re not always a good indicator
Portfolios are not a good indicator of what you can expect from a photographer!
WHAT……. but how can you judge how good a wedding photographer is if not on their portfolio????? This may seem completely bonkers
(especially given that I myself am a wedding photographer.)
WHY……… Never judge a book by it’s cover!
If a photographer shoots 50 weddings a year, has been working for five years, that’s 250 weddings. Now if at each wedding they were producing an edit of 300 images that is 75000 edited images they have to choose from. Now if they were to make a portfolio of their best 50 images they had taken over that time it represents only 0.066% of their edited work. If they had been working for longer then they may have an even bigger selection to choose from.
Not only this, but some of the images, may even not have been from actual weddings at all. Styled shoots using professional models happen reguarly,whether to create features for magazines/blogs or adverts for suppliers etc. There is nothing to stop a photographer displaying these images in their portfolio.
Now all of this isn’t to say their isn’t value in looking at a wedding photographers portfolio. When you’re initially looking at photographers and are checking out websites etc. then that’s all you have to go on. They can give a good idea of the photographers style in terms of how they shoot and also how they edit their work. But remain mindful that what they are showing you is a tiny, tiny selection of the very best of their work. If you don’t like their portfolio you can quickly eliminate them and keep looking. But when you start to narrow down your shortlist what you really want to see is some complete weddings, preferably as they have given them to their clients.
Nowadays most photographers will offer clients online galleries of their photos, all you need to do is get them to give you the link or the password to access them. In general as well get them to let you see at least three, preferably the most recent ones too. This way you should be able to get a lot better idea of their style, the quality of images they produce and a far more accurate representation of what they can offer you. After all you are expecting them to deliver potentially 3-500 edited images, its pretty reasonable on your part to ask to see what you can expect to get.
If the photographer is unable or unwilling to show full wedding edits then simply find one who is. If they are going to be difficult about this, then what else will they be difficult about?
Just remember when it comes to How to choose a wedding photographer? a portfolio is just the starting point. It shouldn’t be what your decision is based on. It is just there to give you a quick glimpse at a selection of their best work and let you decide if you want to find out more about them.