So you’ve decided to hire a photographer? That’s awesome! Whether you need a professional photographer to document your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, or you need someone to photograph your graduating senior, or you want to hire a family photographer; read ahead for 6 tips when booking your Birmingham photographer!
1. Editing Style
Become familiar with the different photography editing styles you see from your local photographers. I’m sure you see your friends and family post images on their Facebook and Instagram pages, or maybe you even follow a few local photographers. Notice the differences you see. Are the photographs light and airy, dark and moody, or more traditional and true to color? Photographers work in a digital darkroom so-to-speak with a multitude of editing possibilities.
Be aware that there are photography trends. Maybe you’re attracted to a certain style, and you don’t mind that it may not be popular in five years because it appeals to you and that’s what matters. The flipside of that may be that you’ve watched trends come and go and you definitely don’t want to hire a photographer to document an important event in your life and end up with really dated looking photographs.
In the end what you like is what’s most important. Choose an editing style that your eyes rest easily on while perusing images.
2. Photography Approach
Decide which photography approach appeals to you. There’s more to consider about photography style than just the editing techniques used. Photography style also refers to the approach the photographer takes when photographing.
Is the photography approach documentary, meaning the subjects of the photos are going about their lives normally? During the documentary approach, the photographer has very little influence on the event being photographed. An example of this style would be if a photographer were hired to document a birth.
Lifestyle is another photography approach. Scenes are made to look natural and the photographs seem effortless. Much like documentary photography, interactions among people are photographed, but scenes are actually created or situations like children laughing and playing with their parents are encouraged to reflect real life. An example would be if a photographer were hired for an in-home session to document an afternoon of making chocolate chip cookies and reading books. Lifestyle photography also pertains to the playful, candid photographs taken during many family sessions.
Another style of photography is traditional. The word traditional literally means “produced, done, or used in accordance with tradition”. The traditional photography approach is more straight forward than creative. If you like the photos your family took in the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s, etc. where everyone was posed and looking at the camera, then this style may be the one for you. Some photographers will use a mix of lifestyle and traditional.
3. Good Communicator and Organized
Make sure your photographer is a good communicator and organized. Are they a good communicator from the start? Before you hire them, did they respond to your inquiry in a timely manner? (24-48 hours is plenty of time; although I try to respond within a few hours.) You’re going to spend a lot of time communicating with your photographer. It’s important when hiring a photographer for any reason, be it a wedding, family session, or a headshot. From that initial point of contact, whether it’s through email or social media, you’ll probably speak for weeks if not months before the day of shooting and then for weeks afterwards through the process of seeing your online gallery and ordering either digital files, printed images, and/or an album.
Is your potential photographer’s website organized and easy to navigate? This can say a lot about how their business is operated. If it’s a confusing mess, you might want to look elsewhere. How about how they respond? Do they answer some of your questions but forget others? Do they communicate through several different methods: messenger, email, texts, etc. Or do they keep it simple and with all the important details in one place? Organization can really add to the relationship between photographer and subject.
4. Visualization and Comfort
Visualize Your Family
It almost sounds silly, but try it. Imagine yourself, you and your partner, your family, or whoever will be photographed in their photos. If their photos take a lifestyle approach and the families are tickling each other and laughing, but you can’t imagine your family being that playful or comfortable in front of the camera, then maybe that’s not the photographer for you.
Visualize Your Couple’s Session
Maybe you want to hire a photographer for an engagement session or even just for couple’s photographs, and the photographer you’re really into captures intimacy and downright sexy photographs; ask yourself this question. Will my partner be comfortable being that intimate in front of the camera?
Art Creates an Emotional Response / Photography (Hopefully) Is Art
If you are playful and don’t mind public displays of affection, in fact, you can’t wait to have those real emotions captured, the photographer whose images communicate strong emotion and make you reach for the tissues, is probably the one for you! Do your research and until you find the photographer whose content speaks to you and you can visualize yourself in their photographs.
Great Photography is Expensive
Photography can be surprisingly expensive. Try to find a photographer within your budget, but be willing to adjust your budget as you search for your perfect photographer. Just like with other purchases in life, do a little comparison shopping. Most of the time, you get what you pay for. You will encounter some photographers that are very inexpensive and on the other end of the spectrum, some that you’ll have to read the pricing details twice to make sure your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Essentially your decision shouldn’t be based on the cost alone, but should factor in all of the things I’ve shared with you.
Prioritize Your Spending
I believe that most people have things in their lives that others would consider frivolous. That list will be different depending on who you ask. For me, a Yeti cooler purchased for nearly $400 would be on that list, but for someone else, it might be considered important. We all have priorities and we prioritize how we’re going to spend our money. So, set a budget that’s right for you and ask yourself, “Do I want to spend $400 on photographs that I’ll pass along to future generations or do I want to buy the Yeti cooler?” I realize it’s not always that simple, but you’ll need to decide where photography falls on your list of priorities and how much you’re willing to spend on it.
6. Ask Others
Photographers are well aware that their best advertising is word-of-mouth. If someone you know has recently hired a photographer and you like their images, ask about their experience. If you’re on Facebook, poll your audience for their favorite photographers. You’ll get responses from actual photographers too more than likely and you can check out their work-two birds with one stone!
Just like we read those Amazon reviews before purchasing, we love to hear from someone who’s already tested the product so-to-speak. Ask people you know. Ask people you don’t know. And read reviews. Most photographers have a Facebook business page with reviews and a website where you may see reviews as well. I bet you’ll even find a Google My Business page where you can read reviews too. Personal experience is pure gold and you can use others’ experiences to influence your choice.
After reading all of this, remember, what some call “verbose”, others call “thorough”! (wink-wink) If you’ve read this entire post, 6 Tips When Booking Your Birmingham Photographer, kudos to you; you have moxie! If you ever have a question about something I’ve written, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
If you enjoyed the images in this post, check out this blog post, about location ideas in Birmingham, which features several of the locations seen in the above images.