So you’re in the market for a photographer. You might have a one year old baby and you want to capture the adorableness, or you want to take some pre-upsherin pictures, or you just haven’t taken family pictures in a while and your mother is on your back for some. Whatever the reason is, you start doing some research. You call your best friend who swears by one photographer but when you ask your neighbor she tells you that a different one is way better. Confused, you ask you colleague for any recommendations and she tells you the name of yet a third. A quick survey of some more acquaintances gives you a few more names and with your head spinning you decide to skip the whole photo session thing and just take some pictures with your phone.
But wait. Don’t! Your friends and acquaintances are not all crazy and neither are you. They truly think “their” photographer is best because “their” photographer filled their needs and since many people’s needs are different the result will be many different recommendations!
Here’s the thing. You only need one photographer and you need that one photographer to be the BEST photographer for YOU! What is best for your friend is not necessarily best for you. Everyone has different needs, and more importantly, different expectations, when hiring and using a photographer. Making sure before you start that your expectations will likely be met will help you avoid a whole lot of unpleasantness and upsetness (it should be a word😉) all around. You want your photographer to be the one who will give you the pictures that will speak to you and that you will love Every. Single. Time. You. Look. At. Them. Forever!
So here are some tips and pointers to help you figure out what to look out for and how to find the BEST photographer for YOU!
The same way every clothing designer has a style with some tending more casual and other more elegant or trendy, every photographer has their own style too. You want, no you need, the photographer’s style to match your own. If you love pictures of happy children then do yourself a favor and do not use a photographer that tends to shoot more moody and serious portraits. And vice versa. If you love a really serious portrait then you need to find a photographer who does that, and don’t expect a photographer who shoots joyful images to meet your expectations. It will not happen. You will be left upset and unsatisfied and the photographer will be left frustrated. Not a good recipe for anything!
Making sure your photographer and you appreciate the same style is easy. Hop onto their website or social media and see what you find there. Remember, people post the images they love most so what you see is what the photographer likes best. If that resonates with you then great, you just found your photographer. If it doesn’t, please don’t assume that you will get different pictures. You won’t. Remember, what you see is what you get!
Do you know what you want to take home from the session? If all you want are the digital files (so they can collect dust in your drawer forever 😉) then going to a full service photographer will probably cost you more as that is the most valuable item they sell. On the other hand, if you want a beautiful keepsake album or a stunning wall gallery then going to a shoot-and-burner (someone who shoots the images and then gives them to you on hard drive) will leave you frustrated and disappointed as you try to figure out the where and how yourself (and will most likely just end up with the hard drive collecting dust in the drawer again.) Know what you want and find a photographer who does that.
Here’s is where it gets sticky a little bit so you need to be super honest with yourself.
When you look at those photographers’ websites, do you notice any differences between them? Besides for style, do you notice if they have different lighting is dimensional or flat. Can you tell if the color is accurate (not too cool or too warm) and consistent, or if the images have that extra bit of polish or not?
Not all photographers have the same skill set (after all, it’s easy to become a photographer. All you need is a camera.) If you don’t notice the difference and all you really need is someone to take those pictures because your kids never behave when you do, then save yourself money and go with the least expensive one. (Of course one that fits your style too. That’s why that is first!) Paying for something you don’t appreciate is a waste of money so there is no need to go with a more expensive photographer if you just don’t understand to it.
On the flip side though, if those deep shadows and beautifully lit portraits talk to you in a way nothing else can, if you want your images to have a dimension you can almost feel, if you do notice the difference between an amateur and a skilled photographer, then make sure the photographer you choose will have the skills to give you the art you are looking for. Because it is art! Be aware though that generally these photographers charge more for their work than those with a smaller skill set but as they say, you get what you pay for!
Which brings us to our last point:
This ties in very much with the previous point. You need to know your budget but you also need to know your needs. If you have a good eye and can tell the difference between a good-enough photographer and an excellent one, going with the less expensive photographer will usually cost you more in the long run. It will leave you dissatisfied enough that the money you did spend will have been a waste and you might end up doing a second session at a better photographer to get what you want.
A photographer’s price will usually reflect their skill and ability. I say usually because sometimes a really expensive photographer might not be that great but has acquired a “name” allowing them to fetch a premium. (This is where your website/social media research is important. Never go by “name”. Always check their work to see of YOU like it!) On the other hand, sometimes a really great photographer will be priced on the lower end of the spectrum but that usually only happens if they are just starting out or not confident enough to ask their worth. If you find someone like that then lucky you! It doesn’t usually happen though.
So what does someone to do if their budget doesn’t allow high-end but their heart wants it? Talk to the photographer and tell them your budget. Most photographers will be able to work something out but be prepared to not get everything you want. Instead of a full family session you might need to settle on just one stunning family portrait. Or do the session and add the products slowly. Again, figure out what is most important for you and make it work.
I hope that helps and always feel free to reach out to me HERE and ask me any questions or leave a comment in the comment section. Looking forward to hearing from you and happy choosing!