10 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Photographer
Updated: Apr 8, 2022
Spring is finally here, and with the start of my 3rd year in business, I always see numerous posts from folks looking for a local photographer. Whether you are looking for a wedding photographer, somebody to capture your family, senior photographer or a photographer to capture memories with your favorite horse, you want to be sure to choose the right person for the job. Often for many, pricing plays a big part of which photographer they choose, it shouldn't be the only factor you consider, however.
To help you with your decision making, I've compiled a top 10 list for you to use before you hire.
1. Determine what type of photos you need.
Family photos, wedding photos, newborn photos, equine/horse photos, pet photos, there are so many genres of photography I could go on for hours listing them all (imagine Bubba from Forrest Gump listing all the ways to cook shrimp!). Most Professional Photographers niche down to one or just a couple of different genres. Some of these genres will also intertwine. For instance, most wedding photographers will also do engagement photos. Alot of Equine Photographers, including myself, will also do senior photos including the horse or engagement photos with the horse and couple. When a photographer chooses a genre, they study everything about that genre. They attend educational workshops in that genre, take classes specifically for that genre. They study the poses, the best settings, etc. For this reason, for instance, a landscape photographer may not be the best choice to shoot your wedding. A wedding photographer not comfortable around horses, may not be the best option to capture images with your horse. No doubt most professional photographers are most likely capable and can operate their cameras in most situations. However, studying their specific genre and focusing on it, will give you the overall best results if you choose appropriately.
2. Do your research.
Ask your friends and family for recommendations. Visit the websites, find reviews, view their portfolio. Find a photographer that you like their style. Every professional photographer will have a certain style: light and airy, dark and moody, dramatic, etc. Does the photography style match your vision for your final images? Be sure to choose a photographer whose photos you think are stunning, that way you're more likely to love your photos as well.
3. Hire a true professional.
We all know someone who "takes photos" or has a camera besides just their cell phone. Understanding how to set up a great shot, using available light or adding flash or strobes, knowing the appropriate camera settings, posing that will flatter you (and your horse) and editing photos are skills that require training and experience. A professional photographer will have an established track record with satisfied clients. A professional photographer will have a website, contracts, a system in place to make sure your session goes as smoothly as possible while creating an experience you will love.
4. Ask about the editing process.
The best photographers also know how to edit photos to perfection. This includes removing unwanted things in your photos, enhancing skin and skin tone, cleaning things up in the photo (such as a horse that rubbed a patch of hair off), or perhaps even head swaps. (you know when you look your best, but your horse blinks or flicks ears back right at that moment). You are making an investment into capturing these moments, make sure that the photographer you choose is up to the challenge if you desire any additional editing. Some photographers will tell you right up front, they do not do any editing beyond basic cropping and color correction as it entails more time to do so.
When considering investing in photos, make sure you click with the photographer you choose. Is it easy to talk to him/her or do things feel disconnected? Do you like the ideas that the photographer has for your shoot? Do you feel comfortable with the photographer? Afterall, being in front of their lens, you want to be yourself, not tense, you want to look relaxed and happy. Plan to spend a few minutes talking to the photographer to gauge all of this before committing.
Make sure to check that the photographer is insured – both for liability as well as equipment. If a photographer, you are anybody at the shoot were to get hurt, who would cover medical bills? And if the photographer were to have gear broken or stolen during your shoot, would he/she request that you help with the cost? You want to make sure to be covered against anything imaginable, so always verify that a photographer is fully insured.
Another form of "insurance" is backups. Not just with camera bodies, lenses, memory cards, etc. but also with your images afterwards. You do not want all the details of your shoot to go perfectly, but to have your images lost.
8. Turn around times
Make sure you ask what turn around times would be for your images after the photoshoot. Does the answer fit into the time frame for which you need the images? This may not seem like a huge deal, but you want to make sure you know the answer to this to prevent being frustrated with the process.
9. Product Options
Make sure to review the product options from your chosen photographer. Does the photographer simply offer digital images? High resolution or only web sized images? Do they give you a print release to print the images yourself or do you only receive web sized images and have to go through the photographer for prints? What type of products do they offer? Regular prints, metals, canvas, albums, etc.? Ordering products like albums can be a daunting task, does the photographer offer preparing your images in a layout to proof before ordering? What type of frames does the photographer offer? Choosing the right size for your space can be overwhelming. Does the photographer offer a service that can help you choose the right size for YOUR space? Knowing what you want before hiring a photographer is helpful, but the right photographer can offer suggestions to you and help you walk away completely satisfied with everything.
Lastly, make sure that the price is not the only thing you consider before hiring. Although for most, it is the very first thing people look at before choosing, I have heard horror stories of what happens when this is the case. Most photographers know their cost of doing business and the prices that they charge reflect that. All the above will also determine price, from education, product offerings, turn around times, insurance, editing, gear, the overall experience, etc. Some photographers will offer packages including what they feel is most requested and desired. Some photographers will offer ala carte items with a session fee. Make sure you know the other fees that a photographer you are considering will charge, such as travel fees outside of their area, additional editing, or anything else that could come along.
I hope this list will help you to choose the right photographer for your needs. If you have any questions for me or would like to learn more about working with me to reveal the unique beauty of the love you have for your horse, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org