How to Pick the Right Photographer
I’m going to try and keep this short:
Ha ha! But really, I know the importance of picking the right photographer. And as much as I’d love to take every single one of your pictures, I know distance, price, and an entire host of other things determine who you ultimately hire. While 99.9% of photographers I have dealt with are incredible and highly recommended, I’ve also met 0.1% who give the profession a bad name. I’m here to save you from that 0.1% or simply from choice that results in a poor fit!
- Style– When looking for a photographer, the first thing you should look at is style. Is this photographer’s work what you would want on your wall? If you want dark and mysterious, then a light, airy photographer is not for you. You should also look closely at their past work. Does their style span across their work? Does every session look different in editing? If it does, that’s a red flag that the photographer cannot consistently reproduce a single style and might not give you what you are looking for! For example, my work is described as bright, colorful, classic, and fun.
- Professionalism– This covers so many aspects, and I want to make sure it’s covered fully because this may be the most important aspect. You are hiring (AND PAYING) someone to do work for you. Preparing for portraits, especially family, can be stressful and overwhelming. The last thing you need is to hire a photographer that can’t handle it. First, and most important, IS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER LEGAL? There’s not an easy way to determine this, so ask. Are they registered as a business in your state? Do they pay all federal and local (including sales) taxes? If someone calls themselves a photographer and doesn’t put the effort into running a real business, not only are they hurting your community, it is a red flag that they may not be competent enough to be in charge of your portraits. In the State of Idaho, if you collect ANY money or trades, you must be registered. It is free and easy, so there really isn’t any excuse. Are they affiliated with any professional trades? What about education? While you can find a good photographer that doesn’t meet these criteria, all the professionals I know want to be continually learning and gaining the best knowledge possible. I am a registered, legal business in the State of Idaho. I am proud to be a tax paying business both for my community and for my country. I am a member of Professional Photographers of Idaho and continue my education through them and pretty much any other valuable classes I can get my hands on! Finally, how long has the photographer been in business? While new photogs can be amazing, finding someone with a few years under their belt ensures that they have good business practices and know how to take care of their clients. A big red flag is a photographer who frequently changes their name or creates new social media profiles while deleting the old- they may be trying to hide something! Stevie Croft Photgraphy is thrilled to have been in business for five years and looking forward to serving your family for many more.
- Investment– I am a huge proponent of budgets. My family lives on a budget, and I’d imagine many of yours do as well. Some photographers will fit your budget, and others won’t. It’s a beautiful system of commercialism that you can find photographers at a variety of price points. If you love a photographer that is out of your budget, you have many options. First, save up a few month. Photography is technically a luxury, but I know when it comes to my family, if I am going to the hassle, it’s worth doing it right! Many photographers offer payment plans, and you’d be hard pressed to find a photographer who wouldn’t take payments up front as you save toward your goal. Finally, contact your desired photographer and see what you can work out. While asking for a straight up discount might not be very polite, you could always ask if they have any programs (payment plans, referral bonuses, loyalty programs) or even would accept a trade in services. Don’t feel bad if your photographer says no- they have a business to run and a family to feed, but they should be more than happy to refer you to someone they trust that falls within your budget. Personally, I love it when a family is willingly to actively work and save up to afford my business. It makes me want to help them and give them so much more love to see how much they value me!
- Personality– Every person is different, and the kind of photographer you prefer to work with will be different (I tend to be very talkative and move/talk fast, that may be unnerving for some). Take some time to get to know your photog. Do you feel like you understand them? Are they clear in their communication? Does their communication style fit yours? Try contacting your photographer the way you want them to contact you. Generally if I get emailed, I email back. Text? I text back. Phone call? I’m going to call back. And if you want to meet your photographer in person before committing, just tell them. I rarely have in person consults before a session because most of my clients don’t want to make the extra time. But I would be thrilled to do an in person consult to make sure we fit well. Being upfront with your photographer (or anyone you’re hiring) is not rude, it helps us know how to best serve you.
- Policies– A good photographer is going to have a contract. That contract is essential to letting you know exactly what to expect from your photographer. It should spell out pricing/when money is due, cancellation policies, refund policies, timelines, and final product expectations and delivery. Please don’t be afraid to ask questions! Contracts, by nature, have to be legally binding (which can make some parts sound complicated). I am always happy to clarify, in fact, I prefer you know exactly what’s going on! Also feel free to ask what happens if the contract is broken. What if you have to cancel last minute? (In my case, you may lose your retainer) What if the photographer has to cancel? (It would have to be that someone was dying and then I would give your a full refund, apologize profusely, and reschedule for a new date) What if you aren’t happy? (Most photographers will bend over backward to make you happy. If there is any kind of technical error on my part, I always offer a free reshoot! If it’s something completely out of the photographer’s control, many will offer a discounted reschoot). In the end, a good photographer wants to make you happy above all, but also use good business practices to protect themselves and their family. I am going to be real here and say this month I fell short of my expectations for myself, and it really stinks for a professional. After a protracted ordering period, I forgot to mail out the images once payment was finally received. Two weeks later, I discovered the images and felt absolutely sick! I immediately mailed the images, and offered a goodwill partial refund. My goal is to always give you the best service possible, and if something comes up, I’m going to make that worth your time.
- Final Product– What does the photographer offer as a final product? The fast changing world of photographer now offers a wide array of products from digital images delivered online, to masterpiece framed prints. Not every photographer is going to offer every product. If you want digitals and your photog only sells albums, that might be a red flag; however, I will add that you should ask your photographer why they offer that product. Most of us have put untold hours into research of every product we offer and the pricing. I know I have muddled through more test prints through five or six professional printers before I settled on a company that I felt met my clients’ needs best. Stevie Croft Photographer is proud to offer timeless, quality prints as the main final product from your session so that the image on your wall will be the quality and perfection you deserve, with a small digital copy available for your personal enjoyment. We also offer high quality canvases and modern albums you’re sure to enjoy.Now you know all the secret to find the best photographer for you. I can’t wait to see your incredible portraits!