Choosing a Photographer: What You Need to Know
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 for in the past. Well-known brands are more likely to hire the best-in-business photographers.
Is your photographer 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, then on the day of the photoshoot, your photographer is stressed out and not the easy going professional that will make you feel comfortable during the 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 having to be alert of your environment and what’s happening around you. 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 event and discover more about their background in photography.
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 choose a photographer with open-communication. You should be able to communicate honestly about your vision for a shot and negotiate various editing and retouching aspects. The best client-photographer relationships are created when the photographer goes above and beyond client expectations.
Does your budget match your photographer’s rate?
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 enough time planning the shoot. And, with a inadequate budget it’s less likely the photographer will properly edit and archive the images during post-production. It’s also likely a photographer accepting a low budget shoot won’t be able to afford bringing professional grade equipment and backups to the photo shoot. If you’re not looking for once-in-a-lifetime photos, then your photographer will know this and work accordingly.
Professional and accredited photographers cost more because they invest in themselves and in their business – in equipment, post-production, staff, business insurance, marketing, and printing the best quality photos for decorating and other promotional material.
Decide what your budget is, then do research to choose a variety of photographers who tick the right boxes, and then ask for what is included in their rates. You might be surprised to discover how much (or how little) photographers charge depending on their professional experience. Ultimately, it’s always up to your personal judgment in deciding whether a photographer offers everything you want at a price you can afford.
Can your 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 vision to help ensure you get the photos you want.
As a client, always be sure to ask your photographer about their expected photo delivery times, and make sure to fully read their contract regardless. Delivery times can vary depending on the amount of post-production editing required or the complexity of the photoshoot.
Portfolio and Samples
Apart from being highly experienced, two things are non-negotiable when hiring professional photographers: 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 to ask previous clients of your chosen photographer what their experience was like. The goal is ensuring that your photographer will give you the results and photographic experience you desire.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to compare their portfolio to lots of other portfolios. Check websites, social media, and any printed samples they may have, as some photographers also offer photo canvas printing or albums for certain events.