what to look for in a photographer
what to look for in a photographer
I am easily impressed with the unfamiliar. I think this is true for most people. When taking a walk with a foreign couple years ago, they were fascinated with a Cactus. Cactus are about as common and fascinating as dirt to Arizona residents but they couldn’t take enough pictures of cacti.
This used to be me with photography. I used to think every backlit photo, every blury background, every shot of a babies hand wrapped around a mothers finger was something to be marveled at. It wasn’t too long until I developed a choosier eye, or, until I became the Arizona resident, unimpressed with the cactus.
This is how you should be choosing your photographers. With a critical eye. Of course, nobody wants to judge someone elses art but keep in mind, this is art that is going on your walls so it should be compatible with your style.
So how do I judge art that I’m not familiar with?
1.) Consider the best case scenario.
A few years back, we were shopping for anti-wrinkle cream. My boyfriend had developed a worry line and wanted to get rid of it. He picked up a box and considered it. I reminded him that the example on the back was their absolute best before and after example. Best case, he would get that result. Visit a photographers home page. The first image you see is likely their best image. This image is the best you can hope for with your session. Consider the surrounding, the lighting, the attire, the hair, the makeup. What went in to making that image and are you willing to do the same? Was the image taken at sunset at a remote location? If so, some drive time and sunset planning might be expected. Did the subject have her hair and makeup professionally done? If so, you may want to consider this as well. Some of these best case images also may not be so impressive. If you’re not impressed with the photographers home page images, you’ll likely not be impressed when digging more into their portfolio.
2.) View a full session
Chances are, any photographer can impress you with their top ten shots. This, unfortunately, is not what you can expect from your full session. Ask to see a full session to make sure you should expect quality and artful images fitting the style you want for the entire session. You don’t want to pay for a few lucky shots.
3.) Don’t be dazzled by the website
About a year ago I was discussing options with a potential client and when we were chatting, I asked to see a few alternatives she was considering. At first glance, I was impressed with the first photographer, but as I looked, I noticed the photographer simply had a nice website, but not so nice images. Everything had an unnatural glow or selective coloring (both photoshop effects I am 100% against) and so, to not sound too critical, I told her to be careful when viewing photographers portfolios. I suggested iscolating the image and imagine it in a 20×30 canvas hanging on your wall. Can you see the photographers images actually hanging on your walls? Are you simply impressed with their site design or the fancy borders that surround the image? Look at the image totally naked, blank out the watermark and border in your head and see if the image is just as impressive without all the website flair.
4.) Talk to a former client
Any photographer can talk themselves up and make promises all day. Ask for the email of one or two clients so you can ask about their experience. I’m sure you can easily tell the difference between someone who is kindly saying “They were nice.” and someone who can’t stop gushing and raving about their experience. Look for a photographer with clients who truly loved their experience.
5.) Keep your style in mind
If your photographer shoots primarily in the city with lots of modern flair and you wanted something a little more natural with some vintage quality, you might not fit well together. While locations and clothes can be changed, choose someone who is one the same page as you. Choose someone who isn’t going to pull you one way where you try to pull them another way. It’s important that you have the same vision.
If you’re still not sure what photographer to go with, send an email inquiry! Get in contact, request a phone interview and find someone you connect with. Also, after all the website cruising and photographer shopping, there is likely one or two you can’t stop thinking about. Narrow it down to the images that actually made an impression on you.
If you have questions for me, I’d love to hear from you!