So what is the best method for searching for a photographer that is best for you? People are always asking me how hard it is to find clients these days. With more and more people being able to afford fancy cameras it can be really easy to find someone that will take your photographs for free or very cheep, but as with anything you experience in life- you do get what you pay for. I am not here to talk to you about how important it is to get professional photographs and spend a lot of money on a photographer but what I am here to tell you about is what kinds of options you will most likely face out there and how best to choose between all of them. If I type in "photographer" or another search term like "best photographer" or "cheep photographer" in the google browser I will get MANY results. There are hundreds of local photographers in my area. Some charge a lot and some don't but all have their own thing to share with you. How do you choose between what it most important and what is not? First you have to decide what is most important to you. Do you value quality in photos or do you just value the fact that you have a photograph taken at all? Do you want digital files or do you want small gifts for family and friends or large portraits to decorate your wall in your home? Lets explore these a little further.
1. How do you know who is quality and do you need to hire them?
The first thing to realize is that every single person will see this differently. What one person likes may not be what another person likes. As with all art, photography is not different in that sense. But what is most important is that you like the work that the photographer does. Make sure you see lots of examples before choosing. A good photographer will have a website that will clearly display all different types of work in their field. Some photographers specialize in one thing and some do multiple. If you want a photographer that is going to take pictures of a new baby then make sure they have done that before and make sure you like the work they have produced with the newborns in their portfolio. If they specialize in graduating seniors only - you would not want to hire them. Another thing to mention is that if you would prefer your portraits be taken in a studio make sure you pick a photographer that has one. Likewise with outdoor portraits- make sure your photographer is knowledgable when taking photos in natural lighting situations. Each type of photography has its challenges and a photographer that knows the genre they are best at will be more likely to do a better job for you. Be ware of the photographer that says they will do everything! Its too hard to be good at all types of photography and therefore the quality will suffer in comparison to someone that specializes. Also, before you hire it is important to know what you want from the session. Let's talk about this next.
2. What does it mean to be a "full service photographer"?
This is something that not everyone pays attention to when it comes to choosing a photographer. There is a distinct difference between a full service photographer and one that isn't. A full service photographer will walk you through the session step by step from a pre-consultation where you explore location and wardrobe choices to the ordering session where you decide exactly what it is from the session you want to take home. One that is not full service will just call you up and schedule the session time and place and probably give you some photos in the end that may or may not be edited to perfection. The latter type will most likely cost less because they are not spending as much time with you walking through the session of your dreams. Also, the more time a photographer spends with you the more they will likely charge. The photographer's time is worth more to them than people realize because it is very time consuming to do all these individual tasks. Bottom line is that quality will cost more every time. You don't go to McDonalds expecting full restaurant service. It just doesn't work that way. Now lets explore what some photographer's will offer.
3. To get digitals or not...
Digital files will usually come in either a CD form or a little memory stick. They allow the person who has them the ability to order pictures in any format and style they want. This may sound ideal to some of you. One thing to mention however is no matter where you go to get prints done, it will not look as good as prints made from a professional lab. Especially if you get large prints made (11x14 or larger). The larger the print the more you will see the flaws in the printing. Professional photo labs are not usually open to the general public, therefore, digital files are not ideal for someone who wants to be able to have very large wall art for their home. Typically, people that purchase digital files will do nothing with them- even though they have the best intentions. They usually will sit on that disk in a file drawer and do not good at all to the purchaser. All digital files have a shelf life also. Disks do not last forever. They will erase over time. We are seeing this now with some of the very first CD's ever made. Also, technology is always changing. The format that you purchase those files in will not be accessible in a few years when technology has made advances in better file types. Thinking ahead will allow you to choose which route will be the most important to you. Seeing large art on your wall is a good first step to choosing if this will be right for you. So...
Pros of digital files:
Ability to print as many times as you want
Possibly getting more pictures from your session*
Usually the less expensive way to go when offered in bulk*
Can be more costly if sold per edited image*
Possibility of unedited images where you see all the flaws
Cons of digital files:
Procrastination of printing
Loss of file or inaccessibility of file in the future
Lower quality prints from non-pro photo labs
Pros of having prints made:
No hassle- it all lies with the photographer
Much higher quality prints
No loss of images over time- they will be heirlooms
People will see the work in your home as art
Edited images cover up a lot of flaws in the photo
*Digital files sold by the photographer can come in many forms- unedited, edited, one image or multiple. Knowing what you are getting into in advance can be your biggest advantage when it comes to getting exactly what you want.
Cons of having prints made:
Can be more costly
4. High cost or low cost?
Knowing your budget in ahead of time will allow you to narrow down your choices very quickly. If you like the idea of having a full service photographer that will supply all the prints for you and help you through the session step by step- giving you artwork for your home, etc- then you will need to save up a little more money. Compare this to hiring a less expensive photographer that will take your pictures and give you an unedited disk of images for you to print on your own. There will be a huge difference in cost. Again- quality costs more money. Above all you have to like the images the photographer has made or you won't like the images they will make for you.
To sum it all up - you really need to know what you want from your photographer and know how much work you want to put into your session after its all done. Making these decisions before you even start your looking process is one huge advantage you will have. If you want to see how I make my sessions memorable for my clients then please read the kind words my clients have said about me. After that, head on over to my website to see my full portfolio. If you want to schedule a session with me please contact me today.
Member of National Association of Child Photographers ￼
Member of Red Thread Sessions