Choosing the right photographer is an essential, and probably the main step in getting photos you’ll be happy with. It’s easy enough to just assume if the person has a good camera then the photos will be good. You might also think '“everyone’s got a camera and everyones a photographer these days. There’s no need to spend much, if anything on a photographer.” Many people get trapped in this mindset and miss out on photos they they could have been really happy with and loved. They may even have ended up disappointed in the product they got because they didn’t do their research or hire the right photographer for their needs.
That said, here are five things to consider when hiring a photographer.
1: What is their portfolio like?
This is probably the biggest thing to look at, and I think it’s one that many people who are simply price shopping for a photographer overlook. In fact pricing should be low on the list of priorities. Of course you’ll want to be within your budget, but like many things in life, you get what you pay for. The main focus really should be; What does the photographers’ portfolio look like? Do they have the kinds of photos you’re looking for? Do you even like their photos or their style? If you see that on their portfolio it’s all headshots, is this really the photographer you want to shoot your wedding? You have no idea if they’ve ever photographed a wedding before, or if they will get the kinds of photos you’d like. I’ve had so many times where someone who contacts me asks if i’ll photograph something that’s not even in my portfolio. That tells me they probably didn’t even look through my site and that they are simply looking for the lowest price they can find. This is not the kind of client I want and I know they can find a better photographer to suit their requirements. The portfolio should be the first thing you look at. It will give you a good sense of what to expect when you receive your photos. Remember, you’re paying for this. Looking at the photographers portfolio is the best way to judge the kind of work they do.
2: Are they a Business?
Now this one is a little tricky because there are plenty of people who freelance on the side and may take absolutely great photos. However, if the person operates an actual photography business, runs a studio etc, that tells you this is something they do full time or on a regular basis; meaning they have experience and are committed to doing a good job. They’ll likely have professional lighting, may have formal training and work with others such as hair and makeup artists. All this means a more professional and better experience for you as a customer. The cost may be higher than that guy on Kijiji, but you know they are serious about what they’re doing.
3: Do they have a website/what’s it like?
This kind of ties into them having a portfolio. Anyone these days can pretty much make a website, so there’s no reason a photographer with a legitimate business wouldn’t have one. Perhaps the more important question should be; what’s their website like? Does it look professionally done? Is it well laid out? Does it have the information you need like pricing, location, what’s included in their photo packages? Again, if the site looks well put together it likely means that person takes their business seriously, and they will want to provide a good product to their clients. I know at least for me, if a website looks bad I don’t want to spend time on it, I’m easily turned off by an unattractive site. First impressions count and if a website looks cheap, or has a strange layout, colours etc. I’m completely thrown off from wanting to do business with that person, or organization. A professional looking website makes the person look legitimate. Of course you can’t judge someone completely on this, but a good looking website certainly helps make a good impression and likely means the person cares and pays attention to detail. These are important traits in a professional photographer. Finally, you want to make sure the photographer is easy to contact and book with. Your experience with them should feel professional from beginning to end.
4: Is there pre-shoot Consultation (in person, on the phone, or even via email)
Good portraits and headshots capture a subjects personality or some aspect of it. How can a photographer do this if they don’t take atleast some time to get to know you? A consultation can be in person (which is best) or done by phone or even email. What’s important is that the photographer has asked you some questions to get a better understanding of who you are and what you’re looking for out of your photos. They should also be doing this during the photoshoot. A good photo sessions should be fun and playful, not something that feels serious or a drag in any way. Good photos don’t come out if you fee stressed or uncomfortable with the photographer. So while they want to try and get to know you a little bit, you also want to get to know your photographer so you can feel comfortable with them. That’s why discussions and or pre-shoot consultations are always helpful.
5: Are They Passionate?
Finally, does the photographer seem passionate about what they do? A passionate photographer brings energy and gets you excited about doing the photoshoot with them. You guys are a team and if you can sense their passion for creating images, it will translate to you as well thereby creating better photos. Basically all the points listed above will be good indicators as to weather or not the photographer you are looking into is passionate about their work. They’ll have a website, a nicely put together portfolio that clearly shows what kind of work they do, they’ll be a business and they’ll want to get a good sense of who you are. Their passion, knowledge, and experience is what makes them valuable as a photographer.