Wedding Professional Wednesdsay: Pilster Photography (Chad Pilster)

It's Wednesday and today on our Wedding Professional Wednesday Series we are happy to feature a great central Florida photographer. Photography is an important component to your wedding day mix and it is always important to select a photographer that will tell your story the way you would like it. After all the planning, the vows and the party; your photography will be what you will always be able to go back to. Yes, you have the memories, however, your photography will always tell the story. We are happy to feature one of central Florida's promising photographers, Chad Pilster:

Name: Chad Pilster

Name of your Company: Pilster Photography

Location: DeLand, FL (Available worldwide)

Number of Years in Business: 15 as a professional photojournalist


Blog Address:

Twitter &Facebook Fan Page:
Twitter: @chadpil

Tell us a little about your business and the services you offer:
Couples work hard to make a wedding original and I work hard to capture it that way. Using pictorial photojournalism I strive to bring a style that is documentary and outside the box. I am passionate about creating images people might not expect.

To really take advantage of the documentary style most of our packages include unlimited coverage, so we can be there from the beginning until the end of the wedding day.

Pilster Photography not only tries to tell the story different, but the company philosophy is to be different in every way. We are always looking for creative ways to be outside of the box from our photos, to our marketing material and we love to work with other creative and industry professionals who are looking to do the same.

How did you get started in the Wedding Industry?
I've had a passion for photography since I really discovered it in high school. When I first started I was already trying to make a business of it. I would shoot photos of the football team and sell them back to the parents. In 2002 I graduated with a degree in photojournalism from San Jose State University and ran across the country chasing my dream of being a newspaper photojournalist. Over the years I held three photo internships and regularly freelanced.

After freelancing for a few months in St. Louis I ended up in Florida at the daily newspaper in Daytona Beach where I was at for six years. With the turmoil in the newspaper industry it was time to switch gears.

I found a passion for weddings when I planned my own. There were also some times while I was at newspapers that I photographed weddings on the side or on assignment (Two renaissance weddings and a wedding where they left by 7 John Deere tractors to get to the reception). When the time came to choose where to head next it seemed like weddings were an easy choice. I continue to do some editorial work, but weddings are 90% of my income and where I do all of my marketing.

What professional/industry organizations are you a member of?
Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), National Press Photographer's Association (NPPA), Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA), Canon Professional Services (CPS)

Any industry awards or recognition?
Most of them are for my editorial photography. Here are a few.

2009, March, Bella Pictures ( internal monthly photo contest-3rd place in the photojournalism category

2008 NPPA Region 6 Clip Contest -2nd Place Feature/Multiple, March 2008

2008 Guest lecturer at UCF's photojournalism class at DBCC. Spoke about multimedia. 10/7/08.
2007 Society of Professional Journalists, North Central Florida Chapter,
Category B, 100k+ - 1st, 2nd, 3rd Sports Photography

2007 Florida Press Club, Category A, more than 90,001 circulation - 2nd Place News Photo Essay

2007 Tongue and Groove "On Assignment" group photo exhibit

2007 NPPA Region 6 Clip Contest - 1st Place Sports, March 2007

You can find the complete list at

Furthest place and/or interesting place you've travelled to while working on a wedding assignment?
Key West, I just got back from it and I'm definitely available if anyone wants to book another wedding there! I'm still working on booking my first international wedding, but I don't think it's far off.

The craziest thing you've ever done to get "THE SHOT"? Most of my extremes have come during my editorial shoots, but recently during an e-session I saw this great puddle that I laid down in to get the shot. You can see one of the shots and the video of me in the puddle here

I just haven't had the right wedding situation, but for editorial shoots I've mounted a camera on my road bike, shot out of the back of an airplane as skydivers jump out, climbed to the top of a rock wall to shoot down, put a camera in a fish tank and half-submerged it underwater all in an effort to make something different and I'm sure there is more I haven't thought of.

What is your signature shot? In other words if someone saw a particular shot they would immediately relate it to your company. The best way to describe it is "not your typical wedding shot." That's usually the first thing people say to me when they find Pilster Photography. The direct quote goes something like "I love your work because it's not like everyone else." I like to capture a lot of information into one photo. Many times you can find layers of action happening.

What are a few suggestions you would make to couples as they are selecting a photographer/photojournalist for their wedding? Look at a few weddings on photographer's blogs. Anyone can put their top photos in a portfolio, but to constantly keep good photos on a blog is a difficult task. This will give you the best insight into how the photographer shoots on a regular basis. Look at the portfolio to see the best that they can do.

Look at one of their album's from a wedding. This will also give you an idea of their style and if it carries over to the album design.

If photography is a high priority for your wedding you should find a photographer that you are passionate about their work and their style. They should also be passionate about what they do.

Look closely at indoor photos. This is the biggest tip on how much experience someone has. Is the light really harsh on the bride and groom with the background dark or black? Or is it even all around? You can also ask your photographer if they know how to bounce flash. The answer should be yes.

Photographers who enjoy making photos outside of work tend to make better photos on the job. Ask to see some of their non-wedding work.

Don't be afraid to tell a photographer what your budget is and what your priorities are with your photography. This will give them the best opportunity to try and work something out, especially if they seem beyond your range.

Remember that you are making an investment. Most things on your wedding day will be long gone, but you will still have the photos. These are what you are going to be showing your kids and they will be showing their kids.

There are many lists out there with a lot of the same questions on them of what to ask a photographer. Most of these are a list of basics that even amateurs will be able to answer yes to. Many times you will already be able to weed the pros from the amateurs out by setting your standards high when you look at portfolios. Another thing to look at is if they are a full-time photographer and if they are supporting themselves off of it. They may be inexpensive, but if they can't manage to pay their bills, then they may not be around when it comes time for your wedding.

Also ask open ended questions and find out who they are as a person and where they have gained experience. Find out what type of photos are their favorite to make. Look for red flags or areas that you might clash with them or that their inexperience might show through. "What is your background?" "Why do you think you'd be the best photographer for my wedding?" "What photography do you do on your personal time?"

Your thoughts on 'first look' photos or bride and groom photos prior to the ceremony? I am very laid back about it. I explain up front that the wedding day will be hectic and there won't be a lot of time for portraits. Also, if it's an outdoor wedding in Florida, most makeup and hair can take a beating before the pictures. If outside the box portraits are important to them, then they should strongly consider seeing each other before the ceremony. It will be a lot more relaxing and you can schedule enough time to really make some cool photographs.

If this does happen we need to still work on making it special. That first glance when a groom sees his bride in her wedding dress can never be repeated.

Another opportunity is to do a "Day After" session (Sometimes called "Trash the Dress," although you don't have to be that extreme in the portraits). This is a day where the bride and groom get dressed back up, made back up and have more time to make relaxed and cool portraits.

Your thoughts on the importance of a coordinator in the vendor team dynamic?
I love working with coordinators. A coordinator holds the world together on the wedding day and makes sure it runs smoothly. This means less stress for the couple and especially a photographer who is shadowing them.

No matter how prepared you are there is going to be something that needs special attention on a wedding day. This is not something that the couple or their guests should be bothered with, this should be a day for everyone to relax and just let it flow.
I planned my own wedding, so I'm familiar some of the the work a coordinator puts into it. I am also happy to work with the coordinator's and the couple to come up with ideas that will produce better opportunities for photos.

Something you would like to see couples do more of with their wedding photography? Give it time. I'll spend two and a half hours with a couple during an e-session to make amazing pictures and really get to know them. Realize that great portraits don't usually happen in a few minutes. It also helps if you brainstorm with the photographer and tell them things that make you happy. If it's butterflies, the place you met, or something that you and your fiance do together, it can help make the photos that much more special.

Another thing is to have your wedding photography in an album, get a framed print or get a canvas. It seems like a lot of people just want a photographer to shoot their wedding and give them a DVD. At least with myself I find that DVDs sit on shelves. Even if I say I am going to make prints, life always seems to get in the way.

A quality album brings an elegance to your wedding day and something you can hold. I have an album from my wedding day and it sits on our coffee table or a bookshelf. It's really easy to bring with me someplace or show it to people. By having your photographer do it, you're not going to forget about getting it or procrastinate about it getting done.

What are a few trends and innovations you have seen in the industry? Video and stills are starting to become more integrated. As still digital cameras start to produce high quality video the combination of the two is becoming more common.

I think with the internet things move a lot quicker. When it used to take years for a trend to come to light, it's only taking a few months now. Ideas spread quickly and some people follow the pack while others scour for new ideas. Some trends are also dying down as quick as they come to light.

I'm seeing different styles of portrait sessions, such as a boudoir session as a gift for the fiance.

DVDs are becoming standard. I don't think I had one couple come to me this year and not ask for a DVD. This can be bad in some ways. There are many companies out there offering cheap photography products and it can degrade the quality of good photos when the images are reproduced on these. Many photographers have done a lot of research to find the best vendors for reproducing their work and will go to many lengths to make sure the client has the highest quality product.

Canvas prints are becoming popular. Prints on metal sheets are starting to catch on.

Coordinators have become a necessity and not just a luxury.

A trend that I think is coming is complete wedding week coverage. With family in town you want it all documented. I'm already being asked to cover more rehearsal's and rehearsal dinners. Day after sessions are also become more common.

Are you a blog reader? If so, what are your three favorite blogs besides the Joie de Vie blog
2 -
3 -

If you weren't a working in this industry, what field would you be in instead? Why? Editorial Photography. Making pictures is my passion. I recently had an opportunity to explore what I'm doing and possibly change careers, but I could not see myself doing anything else. I tried looking into PR and personal training, but neither of them held my interest like photography does. Photography gives me the opportunity to explore and experience things that I might otherwise never see.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?
1. Most people are surprised to learn that I used to weigh 255lbs in high school. I lost most of it in college.
2. Florida is the second longest I've lived someplace since I grew up in Northern California.
3. I was ready to marry my wife the day I met her.

Any hobbies or pastimes? To keep the weight off I set a goal of doing a triathlon. Over the past few years I've done over 20 triathlons. I have even gained a few sponsors. When I'm active you can read about it here

Describe yourself or your services in four (4 words or less)
Telling stories; different.

If you've met Chad, you will agree with me when I say that he will chat with you as though he has known you for years! As you are selecting your photographer, xonsider meeting with Chad and his photography services!

Until next time,

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