Six tips for hiring a professional photographer
1. Choose the absolute best photographer that you can afford
Determine your budget before you look for a photographer. If you search for a photographer on the internet, PLEASE go beyond the first few pages. The first pages will be filled with websites that claim to help you find the best photographer. The first pages will contain many photographers from large firms that spend lots of money buying their way onto the first pages and in the long run you pay for that cost. Compare examples of their work. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is not a professional photographer. Are they insured? Do they have back-up gear? If they are a professional photographer they will have these. On the other end, you don’t want to waste your time with someone who is far beyond your budget. Don’t let the price be the only determining factor, but don’t choose the most expensive photographer unless you absolutely love their work and can afford their prices. Prices can often be negotiated, but quality cannot. You can get 100 images for $200, but is it worth your time and investment if only 10 of them are good?
2. Evaluate their personality
See if you like spending time with them. This is very important especially for a wedding as you will spend the entire day with your photographer. Call the photographer and start a conversation with them. Are they pleasant, funny, kind, caring, and genuine? Do you like them as a person? Make sure you meet them in person before you hire them. Read their blog, send them a friend request and visit their personal Facebook page, and like and visit their Facebook Professional fan page as well. A professional photographer should have all of these. Ask them lots of questions. They should ask you lots of questions too.
3. Consider their shooting and editing style
Photographers have different styles so you need to decide on someone who can help you achieve the end result you are looking for. This applies to everything from wedding and maternity shoots to family and corporate shoots, but there are three basic types of photography. Traditional is mostly posed shots and arrangement of details to look a certain way. Photo Journalistic is documenting the events with little interaction or posing. Balanced combines both traditional and photo journalistic styles. You should look through some of your friend’s photo albums and decide what style you prefer. A good photographer knows when to back away and get the candid shots as well as how to direct and pose everyone. Ask them about their posing process and how they get everyone to look natural. Ask to see all of their photos from a shoot or wedding, not just a collection of their best. Are their photos over edited with unnatural smooth porcelain doll skin with no detail? Keep in mind that you will be purchasing more than a few of the best photos. You should tell them which style you prefer. Make sure they can capture all aspects of your event. For instance, do they create beautiful glamorous photos of the bride, but the ceremony and reception are under exposed and grainy because they didn’t use the proper lighting or camera settings? Ask the photographer if they shoot raw or jpeg. The best photographers shoot in raw format for many reasons, but they deliver in jpeg. If you want to know why raw, please read my blog, "Why I shoot only raw" http://www.kapturedbyknight.com/blog/2016/2/why-i-shoot-only-raw
4. Consider the products and services they offer
A professional photographer should offer products other than just a disk with images. That may very well be all you wanted, but images on a disk are not very convenient to show your friends and family. No one hangs digital images on their walls as artwork. You invested in a photographer to capture your once in a lifetime event. You may want professional lab prints, beautiful canvases, and probably a professionally made photo album for home (not drugstore prints or a $20 plastic inserted department store photo album).
5. Create a short list
Once you have done your research, create a short list of professional photographers that stand out for you. Get in touch with each of them to discuss your needs and to ask any questions that you might have. It’s important that you chat with the photographer over the phone if not in person as this is the best way to get to know them and find out whether you’ll be able to work with them. Feeling uncomfortable or stressed out around your photographer makes for bad photos.
It’s important that you pick a photographer that you have confidence in. Your photos are there to last you a lifetime so while there is nothing wrong with helping out your photographer friend who has just started out, it’s best to choose an experienced photographer for important events and occasions that you can’t relive.
6. Follow your instincts
Your instincts are smarter than you may realize. All you have to do is listen to them.
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