So Many Photographers Out There; How Do I Choose? Tips and Tricks

Everyone needs to hire a photographer at some time in their life. For most people, it is their wedding that forces them into the photographer marketplace. But there are many events and benchmarks you should consider having professionally photographed. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you interview (and you should interview) photographers for the different milestones in your life.

Type of Photography: When clients contact my maternity and newborn portrait studio, one of the first things I ask them is “Why do you want portraits taken”? This may sound odd. But the answer to this dictates the conversation. If clients are not sure, then I try to help them by asking a few more probing questions.

  • Is this an event that will happen once at a specific time and place? Examples may be birth photography, weddings, christenings, family reunions).
  • Do you want to document a stage in life or a benchmark? Examples include: high school senior portraits, maternity/newborn, graduation, cake smash, engagement etc.
  • Are you looking to create an heirloom? Want an image to remember that brief period in life when all 4 generations were alive together? Or an image that you will pass on to your kids?
  • Is this an image you will use in your career? Head shots, personal branding, web page presence, ad creation etc.

You will find that not every photographer can do every type of photography. They may not have the experience, the staff, the gear or desire. Each type of photography has its own skill set. Few photographers really are able to do any type of photography that comes their way, and I would steer clear of those who claim to do it all.

Service Over Price: The first question most people ask a photographer is “how much?” But the better question to ask is, “What kind of services do you provide”? When you go into a car dealership, the first thing you ask the dealer is not “how much”. First, you tell the dealer what kind of car you need or want, how you are going to use the car, what kind of styles you like etc. From there, conversations about price can begin. So to start , find out what kinds of things a photographer can do for you. Can they retouch portraits well? Are they good at posing? Can they recommend clothing that will make you look great? How are they going to deal with a round face, or a curvy person? Do they know anything about newborns? How do they get kids to cooperate for a family portrait session?Do they offer the products you want to buy? Do they know how to prepare an image to look stunning as a canvas or metal print?These are the problems you need solved. Believe it or not, price is not your first concern. Chances are, you are willing to pay for someone who can make you and your family look great.

Photographer’s Style:  The great equalizer in photography is that each one has their own distinct style. You could have 15 newborn photographers pose and photograph your baby, and each would be significantly different. It is unrealistic to go on Pinterest and pin a bunch of images you like and expect any photographer to recreate those images.  You will have to take some time to look at the portfolio of the photographers you are considering and see if you like what they offer. These images are ones that are going to document a moment or become an heirloom. Your photographer will create a gallery of images with their signature look and artistry. You want to be sure that the style of a photographer is one you really like. The best thing you can do is make a note of the images you like of a photographer and tell them this. Then, if you have style changes or requests, you can talk about it.

Like most things, it takes effort and patience to find out what a particular photographer may be able to do for you. And believe it or not, price is NOT your biggest concern. It’s the photographer’s ability to solve your problems. For information about choosing a photographer, read this.

Katie is a maternity and newborn photographer in Los Angeles CA, 91042