“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”
Top Photographer, Peter Adams, could not have said it better! Photography is about so much more than clicking a button and taking a bunch of pictures; it's about capturing memories, emotions and for a single second stopping time. This is why choosing the right Photographer is important, not just budget wise, but relationship wise. In this blog post we will go over what to look for in a Photographer and what to watch out for.
Whether you are looking for someone to capture your Wedding or snap some portraits of you or your family, it's very important to know not only what you want but what you need from your Photographer. Professional Photography is an investment to be sure, but with the right person behind the lens, your photos are priceless.
Weddings and Events are the highest investment on the Photography totem pole and depending on the event, irreplaceable. Theoretically, the event you are hiring a Pro for will never happen again and you want to be able to remember it for years and years to come, and to share it with others who maybe couldn't attend.
An Event Photographer needs several qualities to even be considered for your event:
Ability to work in a high-stress environment
Ability to multitask and be flexible when pulled in several directions or on a time limit
Prepared-ness; having the right equipment on hand at any given moment to ensure they aren't missing important moments
*Pricing that fits the market, but is also worth the final product
Attitude and general personality
Now let's elaborate on each:
1) Weddings and Events are typically in small venues with a lot of people running around. I will tell you, gathering family members for portraits after a wedding ceremony is no easy task and is a lot like herding cats who've had a little too much cat nip already. The right pro needs to be able to stay calm, organized and ready for hiccups like these at every turn during an event, because we all know life happens and nothing EVER goes exactly as planned. Take away: find someone who can handle the chaos!
2) Flexibility is key. Sometimes your timeline get altered due to weather, other guests or vendors, or even the couple just wanting to switch things up a bit. Sure, it's not ideal (and as a planner, we try our best to avoid it) but in the long run, as long as the job is done well and the couple is happy, the Photographer should be too. Now that's not to say schedule a pro for four hours, switch your timeline and expect them to stick around for longer, but definitely look for that willingness to work with you should circumstances change, and compensate them for it if need be. Take away: find someone who is easy to work with and has the ability to be flexible with irregularities.
3) You would not believe how many Weddings or Events I have Coordinated where the Photographer has either forgotten extra camera batteries, storage cards, or even actual cameras and flashes. Unfortunately these "pros" did not handle it very well and faked their way through the event in order to keep the peace and then tragically disappointing the couple after the fact when they find out there are no photos to give them. This is more common than you would think, and there isn't really a way to guarantee your Photographer will be 100% prepared come the day-of, but you can pretty much tell how prepared they are when you meet them to hire them. If they come with pricing, examples and are ready to answer any questions, they are probably a lot more reliable than someone who wings it or has to 'get back to you on that.' Take away: trust your instincts on whether a pro has it together or not.
4) Pricing is always a huge controversy, especially from within the industry. Photographers are not cheap, plain and simple, but it's important to know how expensive is too expensive and if it's actually worth investing in. Photography is such an overly-saturated market, Photographers have to get competitive with their pricing, but that does not always mean the product quality is the same. This is something I stress to my couples: Just because it's under your budget or "a really great deal" doesn't mean it's a good investment of your money. Super low prices can often times mean that that particular pro isn't well versed in the industry and doesn't know what to charge for their services; which in turn means that they are not very experienced and your end product may be compromised.
With that being said, just because a Photographer charges thousands of dollars does not mean they are the world's best either. All I can say is look at what is included: how many hours do you get? How many photos do you get? Are they edited? Are you allowed to print them without permission? Can you get prints from your photographer? All these questions and so much more are important when considering pricing. While numbers don't lie, quality and quantity are the main concern.
Another thing to note with Photography pricing is that reality of what you're getting. So many times couples ask me, "Why is it so expensive for only four hours of work?" and I have to tell them, you're not only paying for the actual time taking the photos, you're paying for the editing, the optimizing and the convenience of receiving your photos well after your event ends. Prime example: I shot a wedding in Parker two weeks ago, I was hired for five hours. After those five hours I was left with over 2,000 photos to organize, label and edit. It took me over eight additional hours to do all this and THEN optimize them for digital download, upload them to an album on my website and notify/provide instructions to my couple. The work doesn't stop just because the "hours hired" are over.
My advice is to ask questions; photographers should have no issue explaining exactly what you are paying for and why. Take away: pricing does not guarantee quality.
5) Attitude is everything in this day and age. Hiring any vendor for your event is a lot like dating; if you don't feel chemistry, they probably aren't the one for you. I say this because you'll be working with them A LOT over the coming months and on the day-of your event, so if you don't vibe well or see eye-to-eye from the first meeting, odds are you won't during the next couple months leading to your event either. You know you, your style, and your vision for your event better than anyone; find someone who is relatively the same: if you are super bubbly, don't hire a super dull, lifeless pro. If you are super mellow, don't hire a super peppy pro. While some say opposites attract, I don't in the case of vendor hiring. You want someone you know you'll get along with. Someone you can trust with your event, because trust is the first priority with any vendor you hire: you're trusting them to provide quality services so you don't have to worry about anything. Take away: if you don't get along at the beginning, you won't in the future; 'date' your photographer and find your match!
Portrait and Private Session Photography is exactly the same as far as things to look for and to consider when hiring a Photographer. Some differences to note and to check on:
Make sure they are well versed in the kind of session you want
Make sure they understand what kind of shoot you want so there are no surprises day-of
Smaller shoot time frame equals less photos; prices should match accordingly
1) It important to know that your Photographer is familiar with the kind of photography you want. You wouldn't want to hire someone for boudoir when they are really only familiar with Family portraits... talk about awkward. That's not to say pros can't dive into other genres, but it's something to keep in mind when investing hundreds of dollars.
2) Make sure that your expectations are clear. If you hire a pro for family portraits, make sure they understand the specifics. How many people? Are there children? Babies? Do you want more posed or candid style photos? Explain your vision and make sure you both are prepared for the shoot ahead of time. Nothing worse than showing up to a photo shoot unprepared (for you and your pro!)
3) Portraits and other small, personal photo shoots require a lot less time to capture your requested photos. This, obviously, is because the whole point is to take photos and there are no distractions (typically.) Shoots for engagement photos, family portraits, senior photos, cosplay, etc. are typically done within an hour; plenty of time to capture some great shots (not to mention to keep the smiles generic.) If you have multiple locations, then you would have to factor in travel times and the shots you are expecting from each location. Regardless, these kinds of photo shoots are priced much lower. You're still paying for the same kind of things; time shooting, time editing, time optimizing, etc., just on a smaller scale. From shoots like this, a Photographer can capture anywhere from 300-500 photos; that's still quite a few hours of editing time.
Bottom line, your photographer should in essence be your eyes for whatever you want captured on 'film' (I'm old school.) If you have any doubts about their skills or experience or otherwise, ask questions! The more questions, the better. You get what you pay for; research the market in your area and if something seems off, it probably is!
In the end, these are going to be your memory keepsakes, your prized possessions and your reminders of the good ol' days. Take the time to research and don't be deterred by the numerous amounts of professionals and how different their pricing can be. Professionals like Once in a Lifetime are here to put your mind at ease, not simply make a sale or land a gig. We want to experience these memories with you and be able to provide exquisite, unique and personal photos that you and your family will cherish for a lifetime.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope this gives you some things to look forward to when it comes to your next photo opportunity and to give you some peace of mind when hiring a professional. While I would LOVE to be the one to capture your every memory, I know that my company might not fit everyone's needs; at the very least you'll be prepared!
Stay tuned for our next post! Until next time!