It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Find a local photographer, book one, have your session and get some nice images out of it. Only there are now so many photographers around, how do you pick the right one?
It’s a bit like picking the paint colour for a feature wall. Standing at the swatches wall in B&Q thinking you want “green” but when you get there you find you can have teal, turquoise, pine green, emerald…Not only that, but you start thinking about the furniture and accessories in the room: Well, that colour will go with my curtains while contrasting nicely with the carpet. Ooh and I can paint my old wooden chair the same colour!…But then that will clash horribly with my neon pink knitted pouffe…
You get my drift. I hope this article will help you cut through the excess and get to the point of why you are hiring a particular photographer and how to find one that suits your needs.
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What do you want?
Define what it is you are looking for. A candid, outdoor family portrait session? A first birthday cake smash? A Star Wars themed wedding? Whatever it is, make sure you are clear on this before you check out local photographers’ websites:
- The first photographer may specialise in the most beautiful and elaborately posed wedding photos in a room that looks like Downton Abbey’s library. The pictures are nice, if not a bit serious and the price is reasonable, but is that what you want?
- Another may have a selection of natural family portraits surrounded by green trees and blue skies or the beach that is ten minutes away from you. The families look like they’re having fun and the photographer has featured them in a recent blog post. This photographer is more expensive.
- The final website has a wide variety of images and lots of them: weddings, families, pets, sports, babies, graduations, events…and they happen to be the cheapest.
Which photographer are you going to choose?
Why do you want it?
Do you simply want a few digital images to share with friends and family on Facebook? Or do you want to go all out and have a unique family portrait to hang on your wall to impress visitors?
Are you having this photography session to celebrate a birthday or commemorate a special family occasion?
Is it to capture your wedding? I know, this day has already been expensive for you, but it will be over for you in a flash. You want to make sure you have a photographer who can capture and preserve the moments that have been fleeting or may have passed you by altogether.
Where do you want to keep or display your photographs?
On your computer’s hard drive, hanging in your traditional living room or your modern dining room? The first option is easy enough, but if you want to display your wall art prominently in one of your main living spaces, the photographer will help you to choose the right pieces, framing and sizing to complement the room.
When do you want it?
In a couple of hours time or in a month. In our 24/7 age, it is so natural to want things immediately. It is easy to forget that just over a decade ago we sometimes had to wait a full hour to get our photography films developed! Honestly, how did humanity survive?
While there is something to be said for the thrill of instant gratification, the things that are worth more are worth waiting a long time for. It may take 4-6 weeks to get your finished wall art, your wedding album, but they will arrive ready to hang, ready to leaf through and it will mean all the more because you were patient enough to wait to have the finished article in your hands.
How do you want it?
Would you rather have a quick and convenient stop off at the supermarket photo booth, or would you like to invest some time and effort and have a professional photographer guide you through the entire process?
How much do you want it?
Depending on your lifestyle or the things that you value, price may or may not be an issue. Do the services offered by a photographer compare to how much you would normally spend on a night out with friends, or how much you spend on the latest mobile phone model? Either way, if you truly value it, you will find a way to make it work for you financially.
If there is a particular photographer in town that you would really like to try but are hesitant about the cost, keep a look out for when the photographer offers mini sessions!
Who comes recommended?
Have any of your friends had a session with a photographer? Ask around. Did they have a good or bad experience? Would they recommend them to you?
Aside from these practical concerns, ask yourself the following:
Will this photographer understand me?
This does not necessarily boil down to whether you think a photographer is astute enough to capture the way little Caitlin’s nose wrinkles when she smiles or the laughter of a spontaneous moment between your family during the session.
Check out the photographer’s blog and about pages, see if you can find any common ground. If you happen to discover that this photographer has a blog post on “5 Ways to get Baby to Sleep” (sorry, definitely not my area of expertise!); or that they too were in the Man City end of Wembley Stadium when Sunderland played them in the Capital One Cup Final (I went a bit mad celebrating when Borini scored, as well!), already that puts them ahead of any other photographer.
This may seem a lot to consider, but keeping these things in mind when you are looking for a photographer will save you a lot of time, emails and phone calls. It is certainly a lot more than just who can get it done quickest and cheapest!
Do you want digital files or wall art?
Do you prefer an indoor studio shoot? An outdoor location? Posed or candid?
Are you getting the photographs for a special birthday, event or wedding?
Do you want to have a lot of digital files on your computer or a handful of unique wall art pieces on your actual walls?
How quickly do you want the images, or how long can you wait for a finished product to arrive?
Are you happy investing 20 minutes at the shopping centre’s photo booth, or are you happy to invest more time with a photographer to get a more custom experience?
How much money do you want to invest? If it is going to cost more than you thought, are you willing to find a way to make it viable financially?
Who comes recommended by people you know and trust?
Will I get along with this photographer? Do we have some common ground?