As a photographer myself and someone who spent years trying to find the right photographer for the job, I can tell you that there is one thing you absolutely must have in order to get amazing photographs. No, it's not money, although photographers can cost a pretty penny. It's knowing exactly what you want and how you want it.
Now I know many of you may have just rolled your eyes or fellas maybe you laughed because your significant other can't even choose what they want for dinner let alone know what kind of photography session they want, but it is absolutely detrimental. So, whether you are seeking a newborn photographer, someone who specializes in weddings, or even one who is creative and has a large portfolio, know what you want.
"But, how do I know what I want"
Well in a world that's overly saturated with photographers that claim they specialize in just about everything, it's hard to choose the right one for the job. But with careful consideration, the 9 following topics to think about will help you choose the perfect one for you.
Getting your picture taken is no easy task. Pictures these days are less "canned" sessions where you stare and smile and are more candid and creative. In order to create amazing photographs that are beautifully crafted and capture your personality, you must find a photographer with a personality that is outgoing and one that can bring out your comfortable side. Go to their website, read their "about me" section and see if it is someone you can envision spending hours with, or someone you would feel comfortable with around your children. Now I know it sounds a lot like dating but finding the "one" in any situation including the one who will take your pictures, takes research and careful consideration unless you don't mind the possibility of wasting your time and money.
Another majorly important topic to consider when you're researching a photographer is their style. Are you looking for an edgy look? Light and airy? Maybe creative and colorful? Look at a photographer's portfolio and see if they edit their photos the way that you would like. Are they overly Photoshoped? Do you want someone who is a natural light photographer? Do you want an indoor or outdoor session and do they have examples of the kind of session you are envisioning? Know what you are looking for and find the photographer that can produce exactly what you desire.
During your website stalking of their work did you come across what the photographer's specialty is? Do they specialize in the type of session you are looking for such as family or senior pictures? Please note that wedding and newborn photography take special consideration and are extremely different than normal portrait sessions. Although they are two completely different types of sessions, wedding and newborn photography take a certain kind of talent considering the work that it takes to put in to each session and the props that are required. Make sure the photographer clearly specializes in the type of session you are looking for and check out their previous work.
To each their own on this topic. Everyone tends to assume that the more experience a photographer has the better they must be. If they state they have 8 or 20 years of experience you'd expect them to be phenomenal. You'd also expect that the more talented they are, the more expensive they should be. To me, experience, talent and price have no correlation. Whether you have 20 years or 2, it does not mean you are a great photographer. Just because I have 7 years of driving experience doesn't make me a professional racer. Just find someone that has a decent portfolio with examples of their work for you to look at. I know plenty of extremely talented individuals with limited experience because of going to college or becoming a mother. This "limited" time does not make them any less talented. In fact, these talented professionals tend to have low prices and not because of their limited knowledge or experience, but because of their passion and extreme knowledge of the overly priced world that photography has become. I hate seeing overly priced photographers that innocent people fall into so make sure you do your research and know the options in your area.
Where to Look
In this day and age, when you have a question you don't ask your parents like my generation did when we were kids, you ask Google. However, the problem with google is they only show you individuals with the most online presence. Our minds have psychologically convinced most of us that if it is on the first page of Google or the first option to come up that it must be the best option, but as a marketing professional I can guarantee you....it's absolutely not. Take Google's options into consideration but ask around. Post on Facebook for recommendations, ask your friends, that girl you know who posted professional pictures she just had taken of her kids. Having someone who can verify that "yes", giving the photographer a thumbs up is a more honest and reliable way to find a photographer that is perfect for you.
Time, Delivery and Schedule
I can not stress this enough to individuals looking for a photographer...ask about their timeline.
How long does it take to receive sneak peaks? When should I expect all of the pictures that are professionally edited? Will I only receive edited pictures or will I be able to obtain all of them? Do you give us an option to view them online? How long do you leave them online for? Do you send us a USB or a CD/DVD with all of our pictures on them? Do I HAVE to print my pictures through you or do you give me full printing rights?
Know the answers and know what to expect. You don't want to be waiting weeks for your pictures or shorted on the pictures you are given. Many photographers will not give you full printing rights and will not give you every picture they take. If their name is attached to a picture they want to make sure it is professionally edited and absolutely perfect in every way. So, ask the questions so that you know the answers in advance. Plus, make sure you know if they are overly booked. You don't want to hire a photographer to take your newborn's pictures when they are 3 months old because they can't get you in right away. Make sure you find someone who has the talent and availability.
As you can see, finding a photographer is time consuming and way more than most people expect when they just want to have nice pictures taken of their normally messy children. If you have a big monumental event that is a once in a lifetime experience such as weddings, or newborn pictures, make sure you thoroughly investigate who you hire. If you want senior pictures, boudoir, child portraits, a family session or an engagement, do your research and find someone who at least fits a few of the check points you are looking for. So just like my dating advice I give to my friends, make sure to know what you want and find someone who can give it to you.