Choosing a photographer can seem a little overwhelming, because there are so many photographers with varying levels of experience, price ranges and philosophies. I am a career professional photographer and have been for a lot of years. I have had the privilege of serving many clients. In that time, I have heard the good and bad from customers about their experiences in portrait photography. I hope you will find the following information helpful.
Why Choose a Professional Photographer?
Think about all the time, effort and planning that goes into gathering everyone together for a family portrait, wedding, etc… These photographs can be a memorable treasured keepsake to enjoy throughout your life – but only if your photographer has the talent and skill to mentally focus, shoot and capture those defining moments. You do not want to risk diminishing your memories by hiring anyone other than an experienced photographer that you can trust. There is a common misconception that anyone with a good camera can take good pictures. The reality is, not everyone knows how to use their equipment properly. Yes, the camera equipment is important, but even more important is the talent behind the camera. Serious photographers also invest in current technology and software in order to be well prepared.
Here are a few tips:
1. Meet with the photographer – They should take the time to listen to what you want, and ask questions so they can get to know you. A photographer needs this information to create images that tell the story of who you are. You want a photographer who is flexible enough to meet your needs. For example, many families make their portraits more memorable by choosing a favorite location. Remember, you will be working very closely with this person. You should feel comfortable and totally at ease with them and they should be professional in their demeanor. This is especially critical of your wedding photographer because they will be following you around for each event. You do not want to be flanked by someone you find irritating, annoying, or offensive.
2. View samples of their work – This will give you an idea of both the style and quality each photographer provides. Look for a style of imagery that “speaks” to you. A good photographer should have the ability to capture mood, emotion, and sentiment within their photographs. The images should stir you in some way. Many people are choosing photographers who specialize in a journalistic approach of photography for their wedding portraiture, (this is a more candid and natural style). There is, however, a place for those traditional staged shots of family groups… but those in the group should look like they are having fun, even Aunt Ethel!
3. Artwork and Additional Services – Just as important as the captured image, is the artwork performed afterwards. This is where the current technology of the camera, computer and software gives the photographer his edge. It is amazing the difference even a small amount of experienced artwork can make to a finished portrait. For example: swapping heads, adding family members, slimming, removing braces, and so much more. Click on “Artwork” at the left for a presentation of “before” and “after” images. Also, ask the photographer about their other products and services such as custom announcements, unique wedding albums and sign-in books, special framing, photo restoration, personalized collages, hard-bound portrait books, or even salon services.
4. Ask about experience: A strong background in art, as well as photography is very beneficial. This strongly influences the quality of your portrait. Second: Ask how long they’ve been working in the field. This lets you know that they will conduct themselves professionally on the job, especially with the intensity of a wedding. If you are on a tight budget, hiring a less experienced photographer could save you a little money. However, the old adage, “You get what you pay for” is most often the case, and the best advice is that this is one area where you should not intentionally skimp.
5. Check references – A friend’s recommendation is helpful in finding a good photographer. However, you should still ask for references or testimonials of their work. You want to choose a photographer who is consistent in their quality.
6. Communicate – The photographer should have a clear understanding of your expectations. When you meet with the photographer discuss the services provided and the fees involved. If it is a wedding, ask for a copy of the wedding contract. This is for your protection as well as the photographer’s. Make sure you read and understand the contract, because this helps avoid any future misunderstandings.
Speaking of weddings, there are a couple other things that you should know:
If you’re dealing with a studio that employs a number of different wedding photographers, be sure you are viewing the samples of the actual photographer who will be assigned to your wedding. You’d be surprised by how often studios show prospective clients the work of photographers who will have nothing to do with their wedding!
Also, understand how reorders of photos will be handled. Traditionally, photographers have always kept the negatives, meaning that any additional photos you may want in the future would have to be acquired through the studio. This is the best way to maintain control over the quality of finished portraits and to ensure the best in printing, coloring, and artwork. Because the wedding day is so important to you, some photographers will now allow you to purchase the digital candids from that day. It is important to know precisely what your package price includes so you can accurately compare the cost of one photographer to another.
At Scott Hancock Photography, to ensure your portrait success, we request a consultation with you which enables us to discover the possibilities that are available. In this complimentary consultation, we discuss possible settings available in the studio, outdoors, and location sessions. We’ll also talk about what clothing would be most appropriate. I cannot emphasize enough how important this will be for your portrait’s success!