If you are reading this, there's a good chance that you are a fan of mine on my Facebook page (if not, please feel free to click the link, and hit "like" :) ) . Hopefully, that means you have already fallen in love with my work, and are either a current client, or that you hope to become one. But, if you are looking for a photographer, and are on the fence about who to choose, I'd like to offer you some tips on how to select one that you can be happy with. I know that there are a lot of us photographers out there, and since you are investing so much of your time and money into something that's very personal to you, it makes sense that you would want the very best. A lot of the time, when I ask clients how they have found me, the answer is usually that a friend, colleague, or family member referred them to me. I absolutely love hearing that, because I know that they wouldn't recommend me, unless they had a great experience with me! However, when seeking someone out for any service, including photography, a recommendation is a great starting point, but it shouldn't be your determining factor. If you want to end up with fantastic results from your session, here are some important points to consider:
Just like there are a gazillion photographers out there, there are a lot of photographic styles. Try to envision how you want your session to look and feel. Are you going for a vintage vibe or a modern one? Are you a fan of stylized or more traditional settings? lifestyle or posed? Colorful or neutral? Once you pinpoint the style you are after, browse through a few portfolios, so you will know that the photographer you are seeking, will be able to create the exact look that you are craving.
As much as I like to think that I am a likeable person, who can get along with just about anyone... I realize that not everyone is going to love me. Likewise, I am not going to love everyone that I meet. But you know what? That's okay!! Fortunately, there are enough people in the world, that you shouldn't have to settle for hiring someone you don't really care for. Sessions can last anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours (or all day if it's a wedding), so it's crucial that you select a photographer with a personality that meshes well with yours. You can find out a lot about a person, just by looking to see how they interact on their business page, blog, or email correspondence. If you get a bad vibe from the start, then keep searching!
Very few photographers (if any) will be awesome in every area of photography. I am confident that I can shoot a great newborn, children's, family, maternity, boudoir, or senior session, but I doubt I could pull off a wedding with an A+, and that's exactly why I don't do them. Before contacting the photographer of your choice, try to see where their strengths are, by looking through their portfolio, or reading their "About Me Section" (This is also a great way to get a feel for their personality!) If you can't find this info, don't be afraid to contact them with questions about their level of experience in a particular area. I'm sure they will appreciate that you have done your homework, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
I mention this one last, because I honestly think it should be one of the last considerations you make when selecting your photographer. Generally, more experienced photographers are going to cost you a bit (or even a lot) more than one who is just starting out. I know there are new photographers out there, offering hour long sessions, with all the files from the session on a CD, printing rights, and sometimes even prints included, for fifty bucks or less. That all sounds so very tempting, and I understand why you would want to jump on it. But, before you book with such an affordable photographer, consider what your goals for your sessions are. Do you want a CD with all of your images, or do you want someone who can offer you other options as well? Do you want to take your CD up to Walmart for prints, or do you want high quality, professional prints that will look exactly the way they were edited to look, and are guaranteed to last a lifetime? What will you do, if after your session, you want a gorgeous canvas of your children to hang on your wall? If you are honestly out for quantity over quality, then maybe that less expensive photographer will be a great fit for you. But, if you've fallen in love with a photographer's portfolio, and are only booking with a cheaper photographer, because you can't afford the one you really want... then I strongly suggest you save. All things in life that are worth having, are worth working for, right? If you really can't afford to pay a little extra for your session, and you don't want to compromise on quality, then maybe you can see if the photographer you are interested in, offers mini sessions. I offer them, and I know a lot of others do too. It's a fantastic way to get a feel for a particular photographer's work, or to get a few great images at a lower price.
Well, there you have it! Hopefully , you will be able to easily find a photographer with a great style, personality, and price, who specializes in the type of photography you need. Obviously, I hope that I am the one, but if not, then best of luck in your search for your shutter soul mate! Oh, and please leave a comment if there's anything that you think I may have missed. I'd love to hear about what's important to you when searching for a skilled person in the service industry.
Side Note: I'm not knocking new photographers, or photographers who are charging way less than they probably should be. I started my business two and a half years ago, and I was that photographer. I realize that it can be scary to raise your prices in fear that you won't have any clients. But, what I will tell you, that I wish someone would have told me is... be true to yourself, and the wonderful people you are serving. If you need to take a break from your business while you take some workshops, or even to do online research, and self teach the ins and outs of the photography business, then do it. You'll come out a lot more confident, and you won't have to feel bad about pricing yourself at what you're worth!