Whether it’s your big day or just precious family moments you want captured, at the end of the day, photographs are what holds a memory alive forever. In our world of fast and instant, we are used to getting quick results to pretty much anything and everything. When technology comes it in to play, the possibilities are endless.
However, with the good comes the bad, which has led to an over-flooded market of professional photographers who have truly mastered the art of this fine craft commingled with people who think photography is an easy way to make a buck without learning the craftsmanship behind this fine skill.
How do we separate the good from the bad?
- Research – Interview several photographers. Ask questions about their style as well as their openness to new ideas you are interested in. A good photographer should not be afraid of a challenge, and will come prepared after practicing new techniques or styles requested by clients.
- Review – Look at their portfolio and ask to see samples that may not be on the photographer’s website or social media. You may be surprised. There are great photographers that get lost in basic studio work, just like you can find one who does beautiful event coverage of 300 people but projects total chaos in a simple family portrait.
- Ask away – Write down all your questions and answers. Or, even better, email it to your potential photographer to keep better track of who said what. Ask about backup equipment and staff. For outdoor settings, make sure you understand what happens in case of bad weather. Know your contract inside out and be sure to request clarification or even changes if you need to. Make sure your expectations are realistic and know what your money is worth with each photographer. Sometimes what looks cheap at start ends up being very expensive, or even worse – a total waste of money at the end.
- Communication – You may be thinking, I’m only spending just an hour or maybe a day with the person behind the lens, this will be easy. For most of us, however, being in front of the camera is not easy. It is important to feel comfortable with your photographer not only before the shoot, but during and after as well. Make sure you “speak the same language” and communicate freely with each other. A photographer’s job is to tell your story through pictures, and no one can tell a story well without knowing the characters involved.
- Certification – It is perfectly acceptable and perhaps should even be the norm to ask a photographer for credentials. Ask about their training, which school they attended, and what their expertise is. Continuing education, taking an active part in photography groups and associations, or even presenting their work in galleries shows dedication and commitment to the field.