I get inquiries every week from brides and business owners looking for photography. They know the details of what they want shot, and they know what they want after the event or shoot, but they don’t exactly know what they are looking for in a photographer. Maybe this little blurb will help, and maybe it won’t, but I want to at least try to help you guys out.
- Availability. Sounds simplistic, and it is, but if you have a fixed date in mind, the first thing you need to check is availability. There are a lot of photographers that work regular full-time jobs, and are therefore only available evenings or weekends. It could be your Saturday shoot is already booked by someone planning a little further out than you, but before you waste any time, find out if the photographer is available for your date. Do this via email to spend as little time as possible on it.
- Consistent quality. If you only need snapshots and the quality of the images isn’t of utmost importance, you can be flexible here. Things like consistent white balance and temperature in images aren’t as important. Slight blurring may not matter as much. Accurate and lifelike skin tones aren’t as valuable. But if you’re thinking of hiring a professional photographer, it’s worth getting the best quality you can afford. You don’t want to be limited to only 30 minutes of quality images when the lighting is perfect, and even iPhone images look great. You want a photographer good when the light is failing, or when the sun is directly overhead, or even better, a photographer that can manage their own light using off camera flash. Maybe 5% of photographers are comfortable with off camera flash, but when you find one, you know they are good in any lighting conditions.
- Customer service. Hey, it matters more than you think, and after the shoot, you can really tell the difference between a photographer with a passion for customer service and someone else just tolerating clients for the paycheck. The easiest way to tell the difference is to google reviews of the photographer you are considering. There are some nightmares out there, and other photographers aren’t going to tell you they intentionally overbook, they are in the middle of a financial crisis and selling all their gear, or have a nasty personal habit they are in the middle of a downward spiral because of. Reviews can tell you everything you need to know about a photographer, or any other business for that matter.
- Experience. Sounds simple, because it is. If you are investing a lot to shut down a restaurant for a day for a food shoot, or are spending tens of thousands of dollars on one day to celebrate vows with your soul mate, or are accruing thousands of dollars in labor to make employees available for a shoot, you want to know that the person managing the camera can deliver. You want to know they have backup gear, and know how to manage just in case something goes wrong. It’s a fact that sooner or later a photographer will experience a crisis. Hopefully not during your event or shoot, but that photographer’s experience will deliver them to the other side with you none the wiser there was ever a concern and your images will be delivered. Compare that to a telephone call saying we need to do it all over again because I lost everything….
- Likability. I know this seems a little low on the list of priorities, and I guess it is, but what above would you sacrifice because you like another photographer a little more? Having said this, you’re going to be working closely with the nerd you hire to take pictures for you. To tell your story, share your brand, and expand your business, you are going to be spending some time. Negativity is infectious, and listening to whining and complaining is downright exhausting. I’ve sent assistants home after 12 hours of a grueling 14 hour day shoot and lumped my own gear in the heat because we just couldn’t deal with the complaining any more. That assistant never worked with me on a shoot again, and it solidified the importance of attitude and likability in a professional setting. Just make sure everyone knows what they are dealing with ahead of time, and choose to have fun.
So there you go. The five most important things to consider when hiring a photographer. Wait, you say? Budget matters too? Of course it does, but not as much as you think. If you have a realistic budget for photography and aren’t trying to take advantage of anyone, you understand what goes into delivering something important to you. Time spent shooting, plus time spent editing, planning, gear depreciation and rentals, insurance and overheads, you’re looking at more than you might want to spend, but less than you actually can. Besides, so what if a photographer is more expensive than you actually can afford, ask them how you can work it out so everyone is happy and you both get what you want. Send them early referrals. Mail them a happy gift. Sing their praises to the high heavens on social media and become their new best friend until they can’t tell you no and still sleep with themselves at night. It works. Ask me how I know….
If you need a photographer, email me Georgia Photographer. 🙂