Reach for the Stars: 5 Tips for the Emerging Wedding Photographer

October 19, 2016

By RF Staff

(A guest blog by Richard Photo Lab)

It’s that time of year again—colorful leaves on the ground, pumpkin spice in everything, and the soon-to-be announcement of Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars!

Now in its fifth year, this competition sniffs out the tip-top emerging talent that is about to set the wedding photography industry on fire. Think you’re one of them? Then get ready to get noticed! As an annual nominator, Richard Photo Lab has a few tried-and-true signs to look for when selecting Rising Star candidates…

Ooh-ing and Aah-ing
Photographers who have our jaws on the floor—not just with a few photos, but with nearly all of their images taken throughout the year—are typically the first that come to mind as nominees. That’s because they’ve repeatedly made an impression. Which, as you can imagine, is a surefire way to spot a budding superstar!

Richard’s Advice: Shoot often, but only show off your very best work to the public.

free the bird-1

Photo © Jai Long/Free the Bird, one of Rangefinder's 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography in 2015

You Do You
Have you ever had that moment where you look at a photo and just instantly know who took it? That kind of recognition tells us that a photographer has not only put in the effort to explore their craft but to then establish a distinct approach/style that is prominent and authentic. We want to nominate an artist that is 100 percent themselves. #onlyoriginals

Richard’s Advice: Don’t be afraid to do something different in order to develop your “look.”


Photo © Leslee Mitchell, a 30 Rising Star in 2014

(Real) Wedding Bliss
Face it: When there’s a professional team of wedding planners/stylists, fashion designers, makeup artists and more getting together to create a styled editorial shoot, even the worst photographer can get a couple great shots. But what really shows photographic genius? When a photographer can take a simple event with everyday folks and craft incredible art just by using their creativity and acumen.

Richard’s Advice: Understand the foundations of design and your medium so you can turn any situation into a beautiful one.

Nice Negs
When it comes to film photography, the proof is in the pudding. That is, we can tell when a photographer has mastered the technical side of exposing their film just right to create incredible images (as opposed to using heavy post-production to salvage far-less-than-perfect film) by looking at their negatives. Don’t get us wrong, post-production is an art in itself—but this competition is about photography!

Richard’s Advice: Practice, practice, practice—and ask lots of questions along the way!


Photo © Eric Kelley, a 30 Rising Star in 2013

Once Upon a Time…
As a wedding photographer, you aren’t just snapping away all willy-nilly. You are weaving the visual stories of couples in love—the rich history of their past, the powerful emotions throughout their big day, the warmth of their family and friends coming together. We want to be captivated by that story when we look at a photographer’s body of work, seeing and feeling every page of the tale.

Richard’s Advice: Shoot with your head and your heart, and understand the layers of a good story—things like setting, pacing, sentiment, relevance, sequence, etc.

We’re on the edge of our seats waiting for the announcement of this year’s winners! Keep an eye out during the end of November to see for yourself, or grab a copy of the December issue of Rangefinder mag (it's free to subscribe, too). And make sure you check out the 30 Rising Stars Print Gallery at WPPI 2017!


Richard Photo Lab is a premier film, digital and print lab. For 40+ years, Richard has been developing relationships with professional & amateur photographers, sweating the details of each and every frame to exceed expectations.