How do you know? There are so many photographers. My theory is that everyone knows a photographer, a yoga instructor, and a realtor. That sounds like a joke, right? They all walk into a bar… But seriously, if you live in Birmingham, Alabama, especially, there are hundreds of photographers to choose from. Many of them are really, really good! The interesting thing about that is, just because you come across a good photographer, doesn’t mean they’re the right photographer for you.
When researching a photographer, consider these things.
Your Specific Need for a Photographer
- You’ll have different reasons throughout life to hire a photographer. First things first, what do you want to be photographed?
- You may be engaged and in need of a wedding photographer.
- You may be celebrating your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary with a party that you want documented.
- You could be moving out of your family’s first home and want a photographer to do a lifestyle session to remember it.
- You might need head shots for your job or for the inside cover of your recently published book.
- There are so many reasons; what’s your purpose?
Your End Result
- Are you in need of digital files?
- Would you rather have printed images?
- Maybe you’d like an album instead.
- Most photographers offer all these options, but some do not; some photographers prefer to not sell the original files.
- This question may seem to logically fall at the end, but don’t you want to know before you invest the time and money if you’ll be able to acquire the results you’re after? So, let’s push this to the beginning of your planning.
Studio or On-location
- If portrait photography is what you want, then you probably have a look in mind.
- Some photographers work primarily in a studio; others may do some photo sessions in-studio and some outdoors.
- There are even those photographers who don’t work in a studio at all and everything is shot on-location.
Your Style (A Very Broad Topic)
- What style of photography do you like?
- Maybe you like natural light.
- Or do you prefer flash photography that’s a little more glam?
- Do you like rich colors and strong contrasts between light and dark?
- Would you rather have images that are softer, lighter and slightly overexposed?
- Do you expect to be posed?
- Or maybe you enjoy natural interactions and want more of a documentary approach.
- Are you looking for a photographer who uses makeup and hair artists and perhaps gives your photographs a lot of Photoshop attention with an airbrushed look?
- Or do you want to represent the real you-cowlick, childbearing hips and all?
- Usually you know your style when you see it because of how it makes you feel.
- You know yourself better than anyone so you can probably tell either through a photographer’s online presence or through meeting them face-to-face if you’re going to mesh well.
- It’s become a popular practice for photographers to reveal their personalities through social media and their websites to give you, the potential client a sense of familiarity. It’s a great way to break down barriers and encourage you to hire them.
- Depending on your needs, whether it’s a head shot, photo session, wedding or other event; you’ll spend weeks or months working together.
- Communication between you and your photographer continues until your images are edited and all products are delivered.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of liking your photographer; you’ll be more comfortable before, during, and after your actual photographing experience.
- Cost is important and staying within budget is a good goal.
- Avoid making this topic the most important.
- Good photographers are worth the expense.
- Ask your potential photographer what the cost includes specifically.
- Ask if tax is included in the cost or if that will be an additional expense.
- If you’ve found a photographer you love, after finding out the specifics of cost, you don’t feel it’s justified, please consider this very basic list of things you may not realize.
- Initial communication and sometimes meetings (1-2 hours)
- Location scouting (i.e. driving, talking to other photographers, researching online-1-3 hours)
- Prep for sessions and/or weddings-cleaning and packing gear (including: cameras, cards for recording images, lenses, possibly artificial lighting, stands, etc.) specific to the type of photography (1-2 hours)
- Photo session, wedding, or event itself-1-10 hours (maybe longer depending on travel)
- After the session, wedding, or event-2-12 hours- downloading all images to several places to store them safely, culling by eliminating any duplicates, closed eyes or “crazy faces” (one eye open and one closed or mid-sneeze for example), blurred images, terribly over or under-exposed ones, or maybe even those images when someone walked right in front of your camera; editing in Lightroom, Photoshop or something similar; uploading your final images to your own personal gallery; communication with you, the client; then ordering and delivery your purchases whether digital files, printed images, or albums.
If you feel you’ve found the right photographer, hire them well in advance of when you actually need them. Great photographers will book quickly! You and many others are in search of the “best photographer.” If you find a talented photographer that will photograph in the style you love, with a personality that complements your own, at a price you can manage, book them!