Thursday, September 25, 2014

7 Things to Look For in a Portrait Photographer

You know you want some amazing photographs. So, you sit in front of your computer and type "photographer" into Google. 24 million results appear. How in the world do you decide who is best for you? I happen to have some tips to help. Let's get right to it...


This is probably the most important factor in hiring a photographer. Does their work speak to you on a visual and emotional level? Does their style fit your vision? When it gets down to it, this emotional connection will likely either make or break the deal. How do you know if this person's work really speaks to you, in this way? Look at several photographers' work. If you still feel the same way, after comparing, you probably have a connection.


Is their website easy to navigate? Does it solve your problem or does the business talk all about themselves. Does the website look good? Is it designed, nicely? Are there typos? Is it well-written? These are attentions to detail that reflect directly on the photographer. If their website looks good, they probably have a good eye for design, which means they are more likely to make your photographs look good than someone with an eyesore of a website. That is because the person with an eyesore website has decided it looks good.

A site full of typos and bad grammar usually speaks to a person's attention to detail, or lack, thereof. If they are not attentive to the details of their own work, what makes you believe they will be attentive to the details of yours? A business' attention to detail is often reflected in their level of professionalism. Make sure they meet your expectations, in this regard. Bad professionalism = a bad experience for you. How much are you willing to trade for a bad experience?


Does their Facebook page have lots of good reviews? Do they have references they can provide you? If they have rave reviews, they are probably doing something good. If they don't want to provide you with references, they may be afraid of what is being said about them.


Do they respond, promptly, to your emails or phone calls? Are their emails well-written? Do they answer all of your questions and make life easier for you? Are they punctual? Are they organized and well-prepared? Do they follow-up and educate you through every phase of the process? Do you feel like you are being taken care of? If you answered, "no," to any of these questions, you should be cautious, because, there are other photographers who will, happily, do all of those things for you.


When you meet with them, do you feel comfortable and in good hands? Do they seem present and care about you or are they rattling off a sales script, talking about themselves, and appear to be thinking about their next appointment? Do they seem honest? Are they someone you trust and get along with? Positive or negative energy will reflect in your photographs. If you like the person, you will be relaxed and more apt to reveal the truest part of yourself that you will always cherish in those photographs. If you feel tension, around that person, your photographs will probably look tense, and tension is not good in a family heirloom.


Do they fit your budget? Like anything, in life, one usually gets what they pay for. A one-of-a-kind experience and gorgeous works of photographic art is not a $100 investment. It will be more, and, one should expect to pay more, if this experience and product is what you desire. If you pay less for a product or service, you are, often, trading that low price for a lesser service or product. That might mean the photographs are of a lesser quality or you won't get the 100% feeling of being in good hands that a higher-priced photographer can provide. When it comes to weddings, that can be a HUGE issue. The last thing a bride wants is to worry about the documentation of her most important day. That peace of mind is priceless. It's not just relegated to brides. How upsetting is it to see a bad photograph of yourself, under any circumstances?

Sometimes, the trade-off is acceptable. Ask yourself what you want out of your photographic experience. Know your budget, and decide what you can and cannot live without. A common system, in the photographic business, is a session fee and a separate fee for prints and products. Make sure you have all of this information, going into your experience, so you have no surprises. A photographer should be happy to provide you with this information.


Do a Google search on that business. See what the buzz is. Spend some time on their Facebook business page and read what they post. Is it negative? Is it positive? Is it a reflection of who you are and who you want to do business with?

There are, certainly, other things to look for, but, these are seven of the most important. If you heed these seven, you will be one educated customer, and on the road to having a wonderful experience and the photographs of your dreams.

Now that you know what to look for in a photographer, how do you know what to look for in a good photograph? I happen to have some tips to help you sift the good from the not-so-good (in my humble opinion, of course). I will share them with you, next time...