What makes me the best choice for you?
First and foremost, I LOVE to shoot weddings and engagements. I love shooting love and I love shooting people in general. Its a joy to me to deliver amazing images of someone and having them be ecstatic at the images and how they look. It also is always a particular challenge to be able to come up with creative and interesting shots on the fly in situations I often have very little if any prep for. I am one of those who thrive and look forward to it. That said, sometimes I see or hear people ask someone who shoots amazing landscapes to shoot their wedding or event. If someone does not choose to shoot people often, its a good bet that it isn't something they prefer to do. Weddings and events also require a different skill set and equipment than someone who shoots almost anything else. So choose a specialist like myself!
Reliability & Thoroughness - I take shooting a wedding as a very sacred duty. I will not let myself fail to capture every critical moment possible. Because of this, I almost always shoot with additional photographers so that different angles are captured and that there are multiple images of the same moment. Why is this important? Because even though we are pros, stuff happens. Having multiple photographers not only reduces how much we have to move around to get different angles, it provides redundancy. Also, the more eyes that are on an event, the more that is seen and captured. I pay my shooting partners well and typically we have shot many weddings together so we know often what the other will do. We also use different lenses which can capture things even from the same angle quite differently. Does this make more work for me afterward editing images and do I make less money from each wedding? Yes but to me the cost is more than worth it because it results in a better end product for you.
Versatile Shooting Style - I shoot whatever style you want. You are my boss for your event. I personally lean toward a very photojournalistic style of shooting but I can easily step in and help create styled, posed images. One of the shooters that I often work with is great at going around and getting all those posed pictures of groups of people at the wedding. One thing I have learned in life is that people have different preferences in what they feel is best. Sure I have preferences for what i like best and I like to make what I feel are extraordinary images but if you want more simple and classical photography work, I provide that too. I often give two versions of some images - one retouched and one an unretouched image. At one wedding, the bride said she liked BW images so I gave her the entire set in BW in addition to the regular set. My retouching method is to work in multiple layers in Photoshop and if you want me to scale back an effect, I can easily turn off or reduce it. If you have an extraordinary image in mind, PLEASE ask me to do it. I love being challenged and being pushed to do new things.
Delivery Timeframe - I like to deliver images quickly as I know you are eager to see images and celebrate/remember your wedding day. I often start with a few favorites in the days following the wedding. I typically like to deliver a complete set of images within two weeks but that in part sometimes depends on how much you are involved in selecting images. Believe it or not, some photographers provide such a generic product that they outsource their editing. I would never do that! How your images are edited should be part of the skill set and the style that you are paying for in a photographer. Otherwise, why are you paying the big bucks for someone? When I handle a wedding I collect all the images from the people I work with and edit them all together into a complete set.
Lighting - While I try to use natural or ambient lighting when I can and have the excellent equipment that enables me to do so, I also have a bunch of various sophisticated lighting equipment and I am prepared to use it when needed. If you see someone who labels themselves a natural light photographer, they can do a great job but only when conditions are ideal. Lighting used well and properly should not look like a flash was even used. It should be set at just the right setting that the light is balanced with the surroundings. However, sometimes light can be used to create images with wonderful drama. Essentially, light is what photography is all about and if someone only chooses to use natural light, they are limiting what they can do, the conditions they can shoot well in and what images they can produce. I don't know of any top quality photographer that doesn't use them that shoots weddings.
Experience - This is an important one as an important part of knowing what to expect and being prepared to shoot critical moments well. I know how to be as inobtrusive as possible to not interrupt the flow of your wedding and I coach all my other photographers to do the same. I know for example precisely where I will position myself and another shooter to be able to capture just the right angles to capture both sides of the ring exchange. I know exactly how to position and setup lighting at the reception to take beautiful rim lit first dance images. I have enough equipment that I basically have a duplicate set of cameras and flashes in case something fails (which does happen). On the other side of the coin, some people have been doing this so long that they perform on auto-pilot and deliver what can only be termed lackluster results. I highly recommend if you are considering another photographer to ask to see the images they produced at recent weddings they have shot. This should be all that they delivered, not just the top 20. This will help show you what they are really delivering and give you a better ideal of what you will be getting.
Dedication - I am at a time in my life where I literally have no other distractions in life other than my work as a photographer. This makes me available virtually all the time that I am not doing work for someone else. This also helps me with being able to commit to turning around your images quite fast. I almost always am working with other full time pros like myself too.
Pricing - I am quite frankly quite inexpensive for the level of quality I deliver as I am looking to grow the volume of my business right now. I also use a simple and fair pricing model. I don't include things that you may not want. I don't require you to buy prints from me. I don't try to hustle you into buying more than you can afford. If you see someone offering a "print credit", expect to pay a lot for the prints/products they offer. Two to three times what I charge. So while they are giving you this wonderful print credit, their prices are so marked up that you don't wind up actually saving virtually any money if you buy just a few things. There is a whole cadre of photographers that study how to get people to pay more for prints in a "reveal session" where they use "specials" and other closing techniques to get you to buy more. Bottom line, I treat people the way I would want to be treated. Certainly I want and need to make money but if I only get what I am paid for shooting, I am OK. If you want me to help and deliver extra products, I will certainly do that too.
As much as I would love to be great at everything, I am not a great blogger. My focus is on my photography and not about writing a blog. If being a good blogger is important to you in selecting a photographer, I'm definitely not the best choice!
If you want to see my current work, I post pictures often daily to my personal facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/sterlingsteves There are literally thousands of images posted there going back years. You'll see my work change over time if you decide to go back and look at my early work. I have a facebook business page which I post to as well but not nearly as often or regular as I do on my personal page.