JOIN THE WPJA
The Wedding Photojournalist Association® (WPJA) exists to accredit and promote the expertise of wedding photographers who deploy still-photography reportage and documentary authenticity to tell the story of two people making the most important commitment of their lives.
WHY WEDDING PHOTOJOURNALISTS JOIN THE WPJA
The WPJA seeks to increase business opportunities for its members and to generate greater demand among potential clients for the use of a photojournalistic approach in wedding photography.
Engaged couples find the WPJA through web search engines and the association’s promotional activities. These prospective clients then find a WPJA member photographer through…
- The WPJA online regional directory;
- Five free additional listings for other regions, including destination wedding locations;
- A Profile page for each member;
- Links to members’ own web sites;
- Judged competitions regularly showcasing the best, new photography in various categories;
- Promotional and editorial content for engaged couples that uses WPJA members’ credited work as examples of wedding photojournalism.
In addition to gaining exposure for more business, photographers whose clients find them through the WPJA enjoy better business: engaged couples have already self-selected themselves into a category of clients with a sophisticated perspective and an interest in wedding photojournalism. As a WPJA member, you will be sought out and found by the people who want to hire you to do the kind of work you prefer to do. WPJA photographers in good standing can indicate their membership by using one of the logos of the WPJA in their online and print marketing materials.
The WPJA hosts photography competitions for members during the year to exhibit and reward creative and technical excellence. Each member may enter up to 100 images per year in the primary contests, as well as 60 images per year in Artistic Guild competitions for portraits and "details" pictures (which may be digitally enhanced), and up to 10 images per month for the staff-juried engagement portrait contests. Increased professional recognition comes from placing in a photography competition judged by recognized leaders in photojournalism and the craft of photography — including Pulitzer Prize winners.
Take a look at previous competition winners.
Remunerative recognition can come from prospective clients who discover winners’ images a number of ways:
- Through WPJA’s promotion of the contest-winning images.
- The use of those pictures in WPJA promotional and editorial materials.
- Galleries as part of a member’s WPJA profile to display her or his winning images.
Special WPJA logo banners are available to contest winners to use on their portfolio web sites to further recognize and reward their artistry and expertise.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A WPJA MEMBER
The member photographers of the WPJA represent the association for as long as their membership remains in good standing and renewed annually.
We believe photographers who consider themselves “wedding photojournalists” should create and present work that strongly favors the many candid, authentic moments involving betrothed couples, the wedding party, their families, officiants, participants, guests, and even other vendors.
Because of the additional referrals and increased attention typically seen as a result of WPJA membership, a member’s online portfolio should convey a photojournalistic impression in the work it features prominently. While creative talent in “portraiture,” still-life “details,” and camera-aware “group shots” are part of every wedding photographer’s toolbox — and are valued, recognized and publicized in many WPJA judged competitions and some promotional and editorial materials — we primarily present ourselves and our work as wedding photojournalists telling the story of a wedding, not directing it.
MEMBERSHIP IS FOR INDIVIDUALS
The WPJA is an independent association of its individual member photographers. It does not comprise other groups of photographers.
WPJA membership is not for groups, businesses, studios, agencies, couples or teams. However, it is not uncommon for a member’s portfolio to be part of a site that displays images from multiple photographers. While we understand and appreciate the use of team coverage in wedding photography, to be admitted to WPJA membership an applicant’s own individual work must be readily identifiable and reviewable. A field has been provided in the application for identification of an applicant’s own work on web sites shared by multiple photographers.
STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES FOR WPJA MEMBERSHIP
The standards applicants must meet for membership in the WPJA are the same standards all members will uphold while they remain members.
A WPJA member exhibits exceptional originality, creativity and judgment in wedding photojournalism; it is only through the integrity of his or her work and client relations by which the association may maintain its and its other member photographers’ reputations. An application to join and rationale for renewal should observe the following guidelines:
Out of respect for our clients’ needs, we give high priority to the online, digital representations of our work.
Members must maintain an up-to-date and professional web site portfolio that continues to meet WPJA standards. The domain must be owned by the photographer (e.g., photographerstudio.com), not a subdomain owned by another company (e.g., photographerstudio.companyname.com). In addition, the site needs to have a clean design with intuitive navigation. Member web sites must load with all images and links functioning. They must also be compatible with most browsers. A member’s web site represents the photographer’s talent and professionalism and therefore reflects on the WPJA as a whole.
We are experts in photographic images. As WPJA members, our digital image content, curation and picture editing meet WPJA standards for wedding photojournalism as a profession we practice. For example, the online portfolios of WPJA members (and of applicants to membership) must feature a minimum of 25 sample images of their wedding photojournalism work. (Note that this is a requirement of more than 25 wedding-related images, not for images from more than 25 weddings.) Understanding the differences between Moments, Portraits and Details categories of images can help in marketing one’s own wedding photography business and in joining and representing the Wedding Photojournalist Association.
- Moments: Candid, observational examples of the people, emotions, interactions, reactions and juxtapositions in rich supply at wedding gatherings, captured as they occur and appear.
- Portraits: Camera-aware subjects and photographer-controlled situations, subjects performing for or looking at the camera, people gathered or arranged by the photographer, etc.
- Details: Flowers, cakes, rings, tables, gowns, legs, shoes, hair, vendor supplies, food, tight shots of makeup being applied to lips or eyes, close-ups of clasped hands, etc.
For effective marketing purposes and for membership credentials, the WPJA recommends applicants consider creating other, separate galleries labeled Portraits and Details if the photographer has a profusion of these categories among their images.
To demonstrate another common situation for some photographers, a Client Featured Wedding gallery will likely have a variety of different types of images from the same wedding. For a WPJA member or applicant, best practice for curating such a gallery would be to select more of these images that would be considered Moments rather than Portraits or Details. Similarly, a site with only a general Portfolio or Gallery category for all wedding photography will probably contain a variety of different types of images. For a WPJA member, most of these pictures should be examples of Moments, rather than Portraits or Details. As a general guideline, a portfolio of wedding photography on a member’s or applicant’s web site should be composed of about 60 percent or more Moments images involving a person or people, and not more than 40 percent of the total should come from the Details and Portraits categories. (In separate galleries appropriately labeled as such, as many Details or Portraits as the photographer needs to represent the portfolio are permitted and encouraged.)
The essence of wedding photojournalism is in capturing moments involving people. Yet even our on-location portrait and detail pictures reflect our preference for opportunistic “found” lighting and settings.
Photographers with a great deal of experience oftentimes categorize their wedding images within subcategories on their sites, an effective practice provided the galleries are appropriately labeled. Unless specifically a Details or Portraits gallery, however, for a WPJA member or applicant other categories of wedding photography should give preference to Moments images. For example, a gallery labeled Getting Ready should consist of images mostly (at least 60 percent) of the people preparing for the wedding — of the actual activity occurring the day of the wedding — rather than details of the dress on a hangar or an assembled group picture of bridesmaids posing with towels as headdresses.
A WPJA member’s or applicant’s web site should not have more than 40 percent of the wedding images with obvious post-production manipulation: pictures visibly altered using sepia, selenium, duotone or other toning, selective tinting, soft-focus effects, vignetted or burned edges, excessive channel sharpening, texture overlays, digital filters, etc.
As a professional, a WPJA member presents only good image quality on a portfolio web site. Image files should be properly saved for the web for easy viewing. Membership will not be granted when portfolios are replete with flat images (devoid of black), pixelated images and other technical or creative post-production tweaks.
Technical and Creative Skills
A portfolio web site for a professional wedding photojournalist should avoid the pitfalls of neophytes to on-location photography, including but not limited to:
- Indoor images with amateur on-camera lighting and direct flash shadows.
- Many manipulated, tinted, toned or vignetted images.
- Redundant images or sequence shots with minimal change in content.
- Images where subjects are poorly cropped.
- Overuse of an F8 stop with a 50mm lens throughout a portfolio. (The good use of a variety of lenses can help exhibit the expertise of a photographer who seeks to become a WPJA member.)
ETHICAL BUSINESS CONDUCT AND PRACTICES
Creativity in our craft, integrity in our work, honesty in our dealings, and professionalism in our behavior are the conspicuous hallmarks of WPJA membership.
Honesty and Integrity
Members must make factual and knowledgeable statements in the course of representing their work, our trade, the association and other photographers. Examples of communications that would constitute dishonest or misleading communications could include:
- Misleading or confusing information about wedding photojournalism, such as using the word “photojournalism” alone to describe “wedding photography,” or identifying oneself as a “photojournalist” but failing to post work history or images to support the assertion.
- Claiming use of a style or approach that doesn’t match or isn’t included in the work shown in one’s online portfolio or other published work.
- False representation of photo credits.
- Copyright infringement.
- “Borrowing” web design elements and text without permission, i.e., violating copyright. (This does not include elements used in a web site template that has been installed with permission by a public license or a purchased license.)
- Unethical search engine optimization tactics.
Obligations and Communications
This association of wedding photojournalists accepts and insists upon only responsible business ethics and complete professional integrity among its members. We agree that we do not and will not:
- Fail to uphold wedding contract obligations with clients.
- Ignore communication from clients.
- Fail to respond to specific communications from WPJA personnel concerning issues important to the integrity and reputation of the association. (This excludes communications that may be sent by the WPJA administration as regular or announcement communications to all members.)
- Communicate publicly through words (written or spoken) in a negative manner against other members or the association as a whole.
- Establish a web-based wedding photography business that directly competes with the WPJA; persons or entities “directly compete” with the WPJA if they are engaged in the promotion of wedding photographers (excluding a studio of collocated photographers).
The WPJA reserves the right to refuse, revoke or terminate membership at any time if it deems a member contravenes the terms set forth by the WPJA membership requirements, standards, codes and/or guidelines.
COST OF WPJA MEMBERSHIP
The cost of a WPJA membership is $150 USD per year.
Making Membership Payments
WPJA membership fees can be paid using the following:
- American Express
Accepted members will be contacted with more information on their preferred payment method. NOTE: DUE TO THE HIGH NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS WE RECEIVE, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THE WPJA ADMINISTRATORS TO RESPOND TO PHOTOGRAPHERS WHOSE PORTFOLIOS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR WPJA MEMBERSHIP. YOU WILL ONLY HEAR FROM THE WPJA IF YOU ARE ACCEPTED FOR MEMBERSHIP FOLLOWING YOUR APPLICATION. PLEASE DO NOT REQUEST PORTFOLIO OR WEB SITE CRITIQUES.