Who is the right photographer for you? This is a question everyone should be asking themselves the moment they decide to propose to or marry the love of their life, when looking to have senior & family portraits done or for any other reason one may have to enlist the services of a professional photographers.
First suggestion: Look into multiple photographers in your area and check out their online portfolios. Do their portfolios suggest they can capture the essence of who you are and what you want? Also meet with them and get a feel for who they are. There is nothing wrong with little interview before you sign on the dotted line.
Second suggestion: Where do you want to do your photo sessions? Indoors or Outdoors? Can the photographer accommodate your needs? Most photographers have their expertise some do amazing outdoor work while other do amazing studio work and some can do both.
Third suggestion: Are they affiliated with any photographer associations such as Professional Photographers of America (www.PPA.com), The American Photographers Association (www.americanphotographyassociation.org/), Wedding & Portrait Photographers International – WPPI (www.wppionline.com/) and American Photographic Artists (www.apanational.org/) to name the major ones. If you notice the perspective photographer you are looking at has an association with one or more of these group they should have a better understanding of what changes are going on in a fast changing industry and how to better understand your photographic needs.
Fourth suggestion: What are their credentials? Is their degree in photography from where they attended university or have they obtained any certifications from the prior mentioned associations. Did they apprentice with anyone? If they do have degrees and/or certifications this is a good indication of a photographer that knows what they are doing. They may end up costing you the client a little bit more but in the long run you will be happier with the end results. The same can be said for an apprenticeship they were taught by a professional in the industry who knows what it means to be a professional photographer.
Fifth suggestion: Are they flexible? Do they only have select hours of the day they can accommodate a session? This is a good question to ask especially when looking for a photographer who specializes in senior and family portraits. As photographers we understand the seniors we photograph lead busy lives (work, classes, sports, etc.) and so do the parents. So will your photographer be willing to work with you in the mornings/evening or on a Sunday and not just during standard business hours and if you live in Wisconsin a football Sunday because the Packer’s are a fall religion around here.
Sixth suggestion: What style of photographer are you looking for? There are many types of photographers today journalistic, classical, romantic, digital photographers (in this case meaning heavy image manipulation) to name a few. When you meet with a perspective photographer let them know the style you are looking for and if they can provide it for you. For example on a wedding day you might want a combination of two styles romantic and journalistic. Romantic to be able to hang photos of those few precious moments on the walls and journalistic to be able to tell the story of you and your loved ones most special day in album forum.
Seventh suggestion: Don’t cheap out but don’t hand over all your money either. This one is mainly for perspective wedding clients but can also be applied to any other area of photography as well. We all know weddings are not cheap and we try to cut costs where we can. Too often though photographers over hear people who just got married say they wish they would of went photographer X who cost a little more over photographer Y cause even though Y cost us way less the quality and what we wanted just wasn’t there. The fact is you are paying for the peace of mind and the quality of photos a professional photographer can provide you and that is always worth the extra cost in the long run.
Eight Suggestion: Now this is the most important one. Find a photographer you can have FUN with, if they can make you laugh and feel happy/loved it will show in your photos that you are about to hang on your walls or be place in album.