No matter who you hire to photograph your wedding or your family, here are a few things that really need to be researched and asked when looking at photographers. Photography may seem like a frivolous expense to some people, but when you really start to think about it, and what you are creating for your family, it might be something to take a little more seriously then just finding the cheapest option available.
Style – Every photographer has their own style that they have established with time and experience. A good photographer will have a consistent shooting and editing style, and it is part of their brand and business. Make sure their style matches up with what you want in the end. There are many buzz words going around pertaining to photographic styles – classic, lifestyle, fine art, formal, modern, traditional, ect – see if what your photographer advertises as their style matches up with what they actually show.
Personality – It is a good practice to meet with any personal service professional before you agree to work with them. Whether that is in person or on the phone, make a point to speak with your photographer and get to know him/her a little before you put down that deposit. You want someone who you get along with and will make you feel comfortable during your session or wedding. I meet with as many clients as possible before they book to make sure we are a good match.
Experience – How long as the photographer been shooting? If you are booking a wedding, do they shoot weddings on a regular basis or is this one of their first? Do they run their photography business to make a living and have a viable business, or just for a fun activity on the side? A lot of people don’t realize that like any business, a photography business is about 10% craft (in this case, photography) and about 90% business. Make sure your photographer has the business experience along with the photography experience.
Products – Does your photographer offer too much? Offering everything that could possible be sold isn’t always a good practice. To you, as the client, it can get very overwhelming. Not all products out there that are available to photographers are up to par. Make sure your photographer has really looked into the options, and made decisions on craftsmanship and longevity of those products, rather then just offering everything under the sun. Sometimes, fewer, higher quality options are better then too many. Think Old Navy vs. Coach.
Custom Service - Some photographers will book you, meet your at the session, photograph your family, hand you a disk, and you never hear from them again. If that is what you are wanting, that is fine! But know that not all photographers are like that. Some other things that might be offered:
- In person consultations before the session
- Styling the session, with either props, clothing, themes, ect
- Personal shopping or helping you find what you want online and coordinating it all.
- Having your photographer book extra services like hair and makeup artists
- In person ordering and proofing appointments
- Measuring your walls and helping design wall galleries
- Getting to know you and helping you find the right products that make the most sense for your lifestyle
So if you want more from your photographer, seek it out. There are many of us who offer all of these services and are there for every step of the way.
Contract – This is an important one. Please make sure your photographer has a contract, for both wedding AND portrait sessions. This will keep those awkward, or even maddening, miscommunications and misunderstandings from happening, and protects you just as much as the photographer. Make sure you understand the contract, and know what you are agreeing to.
Price Range – This really should be the last determining factor in your search for a photographer. A good photographer, who is running a successful, honest, hard working business is going be to priced accordingly. They will be paying taxes, have business expenses, and still need to be able to pay themselves. Think about those that charge too little, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Photography is an art, but it is also a photographer’s bread and butter, and they must take pride in what they do. Someone making less then minimum wage isn’t taking much pride in their work or their business, and most likely isn’t going to give you the same level of work, customer service, or attention that you expect.
Final word – Hiring a professional is more then just getting some nice looking snapshots of your kids or yourself. It is about creating a portrait that will last longer then you will, that will be passed down for generations, and will give your family a glimpse of your life. It is the history of you family, an artifact that will tell your kids and grandkids of their past. Consider the impact of what you are creating when looking at photographers. If you are looking for the cheapest option, you will probably leave disappointed in the results. This should be an investment in your family history. Seeking our a professional will guarantee quality work, beautiful products, and a bit of your life written down for your family to enjoy.