How to Hire a Professional Photographer

Sep 2, 2018 | Community, Famly, Kids, Photographer, Seniors, Trends

Looking for a Photographer?

All you wanted was a recommendation for a local photographer to take pictures of your family. What you received instead is a list of everyone in your area who owns a nice camera along with two dozen spam messages from photographers. How do you find the right photographer now?  This article will help you do that.

The most common question I’ve seen posted is, “Does anyone know of a ‘least expensive’ or ‘cheapest’ photographer?” But we are talking about your family memories or a once in a lifetime event, “CHEAP” is not how you want to remember your photoshoot. Plus, what other product or service is out there where ‘least expensive’ translates into high quality or good service? I believe there are none.

As a professional photographer, value and service are my two main goals. I provide you with the highest quality service because these moments are too important for anything less.

Find the best value not the lowest price. Even if I’m not the photographer for you, I encourage you to find a professional photographer who provides great service, a great experience, and a great product.

So what exactly are you looking for?

Every photographer will ask You this question.  Before posting to Facebook seeking recommendations, you definitely had a very specific photo need in mind.  Maybe an engagement session or the annual family pictures. Perhaps first day of school pictures, you have a new baby, or maybe your oldest child is graduating high school.  What ever the reason, it is an meaningful, not cheap.  Have a clear idea of what you need and you will help the Photographer provide you the best value and experience for your investment

Start the conversation with these 5 Questions

1. What are your Credentials?

First, ask them how long they have being photographing, Seniors? Families? Kids? weddings? How many weddings have you photographed? Do you often shoot sessions like the one I am planning? May I see a gallery of your most recent photoshoot?”

**A quality photographer will be happy you asked those questions and will have plenty of examples of their work they want to share.  This question alone will separate the professionals from the amateurs.

2. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE your Style?

Every photographer creates a unique look.  A seasoned pro will be clearly articulate their personal style .  For example, I create contemporary art for your home with a lifestyle and editorial feel.  If your style is traditional studio portraiture, I’m likely not your photographer. However, I’m more than happy to recommend a good friend of mine who does fine art-portraiture.

**If you don’t know the photography lingo, ask your photographer to compare their work to things like magazine spreads, artists, tv shows, etc.

Take a look GQ inspired family photoshoot.

3. How do you REDUCE Stress?

Did you know the number one question for photographers isn’t price? It is, “What do I wear?” and then price.  Additional questions you can ask are “Do you provide hair and makeup?” and “Is there someone there to help with clothing changes?”  These concerns can be stressful.

The photoshoot experience should be as much fun as possible and create amazing memories, there should be almost not stress. So be sure to ask how they make it stress free. What services do they provide, and what you can expect before, during and after the session.  Your photoshoot should begin with a trusting relationship with the photographer. A Pro will work with you to achieve your goals. If not, then you can cross them off your list.

** A professional will certainly have this question answered before you ask.  They will either have people on standby to work with you for clothes and hair and makeup or they will have guides and recommendations to help you through the process.  Be sure to tell them what you love and must have (ex. You want all the clothes matching) and tell them what you don’t want (ex. Portraits that look like JC Penny).

Here is a guide for High School Seniors – What to Wear.

4. Do you REtouch your images?

This question alone will narrow down your choices. Professionally retouched images are not the same as a photo with a Snapchat or Instagram filter. Retouching is not a magic button to botox wrinkles or take away ten pounds. Professional retouching involves removing unwanted blemishes, distractions, color correction and enhances the beauty of the image.  Retouching compliments your images and ensures the highest quality images to display in your home.  Look at the photographer’s personal retouching style, see if it resonates with you.

**Planning for wall art in your home (canvas, prints, or metals) require that the image files are clean, color corrected, and polished before printing.  An image with technical issues will be amplified when it is enlarged and hung on the wall. Photographers that offer “a disk with ALL your images on it,” are probably not providing you with high-quality retouched images.

5. What Do Others Say?

“Can I speak to a previous client (or two)?”  Do you really want to know how well a photographer works with their clients? Ask the previous clients.  Inexperienced photographers may not have references, which is ok, but a high quality photographer will have no problem putting you in-touch with former clients who will give you the inside scoop. By talking to clients you get details that you would never get from the photographer, or in a FB group.

**Ask former clients how the photographer was during the shoot.  Were they organized and relaxed? What did you like most? What did you think could be better? What  was your biggest concern before working with them? And How did they address that concern?  Questions like this will tell you all you need to know about your potential photographer.

5 Questions about your Investment

I hope you can see how hiring a professional photographer is not just buying pictures.  Everyone has a budget and it is important that your photographer remains mindful of that throughout your experience.  To help with this I recommend you first narrow down the list with the questions above so you know they are at least a close match to you needs. Then use the following 5 questions to evaluate the value they provide for the investment.

1. What is included in the session fee?

Most importantly a pre-session consultation allows you and the photographer to get to know each other. Definitely ask your questions, and explain your needs. Have the photographer give you a time estimate for the shoot itself, describe what services or products are included with the session fees. Meeting face to face also allows you the opportunity to clarify the specific type of session you want, i.e. on-location or in a studio, structured, formal or free flow.  All of these details are crucial for your photography experience.

Get a look behind the scenes on a JHR Photoshoot.

2. What is your Digital File Policy?

 

Do not automatically assume digital files come with your session or purchased products. Some photographers will allow you to print from the digital files, others will have restrictions, like keeping a logo or watermark on the image when you post to social media, and restricting cropping or image alterations such as filters. Tell the photographer you want only the digital files up front and save yourself and the photographer a lot of time.

Be sure to ask what you will receive and what the terms of use will be.  A professional photographer will likely provide you with a usage agreement or contract, when your session is booked.  For example, I include both high resolution files and web use files only with the purchase of printed art. I do not offer stand alone digital files with a print release.  As the photographer I invest in both the image creation and the production to ensure my clients receive the highest quality art for their home. 

3. When will my photographs be complete?

How long will it take to get your photos? Let your photographer know if you need them by a certain date.  From the time you select your favorite images, to the print lab, and then return back to your home takes a little bit of time. Be sure to ask about the typical turnaround time. Ask if your photos will be drop-shipped to your door or if you are required to pick them up? Every business has their own work flow, and you want to make sure that works for your needs.

4. How do I buy my photographs?

Besides knowing how the session will go, understanding the sales and ordering process upfront is also important.  Some photographers use online proofing galleries and direct order from their website. Others, like myself meet you in person and walk you through the selection and order process.  Typically, photographers bundle prints and art together to give you more value. Ask what specific products and items are included and also how you can customize packages for your needs. Don’t forget to ask what happens after your order. Will the images be available for re-order online? If so, for how long.  Also ask if the photographer helps install your art work. (PS..we do!)

5. What is the average investment?

Last, but not least, this is the best way to ask the price question. It tells the photographer that you understand the value of their time and effort, and that you value the art and craft of photography. The professional will be able to tell you quickly, “the average client investment is $$$.” Providing specific details about your desires to the photographer will allow for more accurate estimation of the value you expect to receive.

If you have kids in high-school, here is a free guide for the High School Senior Experience you Deserve

If you found this helpful – Please Share!

As you can see, value is so much more than price. Think of photography as an investment. From the photoshoot experience to the skills and services of a true professional, you are investing in a family treasure.

If you found this article helpful, I would be honored if you would share it with others.  My goal as a professional photographer is to create one of a kind artwork for your home that tells your story while providing you with the photography experience you deserve.

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