Doing a simple Google search is one way to look for a photographer, but how do you decide which photographer to choose based on the hundreds of studios and portfolios that come up? It’s a daunting task, and that’s why I created this guide to make the process of choosing a photographer less stressful and more rewarding.
Here are the most important factors you should consider when choosing a photographer:
Skills to pay the bills?
Having the best camera, lenses, lights, or studio space doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use them. Today, anyone can claim to be a photographer simply by owning a cell phone, but the distinction between a professional and amateur photographer truly depends on the ability to deliver quality photography time after time after time.
Review your photographer’s portfolio and see if their photographic style fits your brand. If you aren’t a fan of their editing style or creativity, then simply do not choose that photographer.
How can you tell if your photographer is a professional? Look up their credentials, or ask them yourself! Professional photographers have memberships in professional organizations like the PPOC, CAPIC and PPA. Also, research past clients and what brands or businesses the photographer has worked with in the past. Well known brands are more likely to hire the best photographers in Calgary.
Are you choosing a photographer who is a “people person”?
Photographers are generally very lovely people and it’s reasonable to assume that a professional photographer is good at interacting with clients. But sometimes you’ll meet a prospective photographer with an amazing portfolio who turns into a stressed out tyrant that will make you and everyone else uncomfortable during the photo shoot.
We get it – photoshoots can be stressful for photographers. It’s often a long day coordinating many moving parts, it’s physically demanding carrying hundreds of pounds of equipment and being alert to everyone and everything happening on set. That’s why it is so important when choosing a photographer to find someone who knows how to cope with stress. A great photographer will thrive, not collapse, under pressure.
Pick a photographer who makes you feel comfortable and at ease during the photo session. I always recommend getting to know your photographer in-person prior to your photoshoot. You can invite your photographer out for coffee to discuss the details of the photography project and discover more about their background, their photographic process, the types of clients and projects they have worked on.
It’s also important to remember that a photoshoot doesn’t end when the photographer puts their camera away. The next stage of any professional shoot is post-production and editing, so choosing a photographer with open-communication is essential. You should be able to communicate honestly about your vision for a shot and discuss the editing and retouching aspects. The best client-photographer relationships are created when the photographer lays out a clear process and there is good communication between all of the stakeholders.
Is your budget inline with day rates for professional photographers?
Although it’s not always a guarantee of professional service, having a bigger budget can improve your chances of having a more professional photographer. The less you’re willing to spend on your photo shoot, the less likely the photographer will spend adequate time on pre-production planning the shoot; hiring qualified crew; and researching the location and weather.
It’s likely a photographer accepting a low budget can’t afford having professional grade equipment, capable staff, WCB insurance, liability insurance, permits, professional procedures, and backup photography equipment at the photo shoot.
With a low budget it’s less likely the photographer will properly edit and archive the images during post-production.
If your company wants to to build it’s brand and boost sales, having an appropriate budget to reach your goals is important.
Can your commercial photographer work within a deadline?
Deadlines are often an overlooked detail when searching for the perfect photographer. The key is finding out if your photographer asks the right questions about your project to help ensure you get the photos you want.
Ask your photographer about their expected photo delivery times for proofs and for the edited final images. Delivery times can vary depending on the amount of post-production editing required, the complexity of the photoshoot or how many people need to give feedback on the editing.
Portfolio and Samples
Apart from being highly experienced, two things are non-negotiable when choosing a commercial photographer: the quality of their work and their client service. After getting to know your photographer and doing the initial meeting, make sure to read online reviews and testimonials. You can even go the extra mile by asking ask previous clients of your chosen photographer what their experience was like. The goal is ensuring that your photographer can consistently give you the photography results and service experience you desire.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to compare their portfolio to a few other portfolios. Check websites, social media, and printed samples.
Why good photographers have higher photography rates
Professional and accredited photographers have higher photography day rates because they invest in themselves and in their business. They invest in qualified crew, business insurance, WCB insurance, education, professional camera equipment and lighting, post-production, marketing, and using the best editing techniques so they deliver the best quality photos for your businesses sales and marketing collateral.
Decide what your budget is, once you know your budget range, the next step in choosing a photographer is much easier. Research a variety of photographers who tick the right boxes for your photography project. Once you’ve narrowed it down to 2-3 photographers ask what is included in their rates. You might be surprised to discover how much (or how little) photographers charge depending on their professional experience and capabilities. Ultimately, it’s up to your personal judgment to decide whether a photographer offers the talent and services you need for the photography that represents your brand at a price you can afford.