So, you say you want to hire a photographer. Well, alrighty, then.
Choosing the right photographer isn't a whole lot different than choosing the right pair of shoes. If it's not a comfortable fit, you're never going to be happy.
The best way to go about selecting a photographer is to, first, look at his (or her) portfolio. Any photographer worth considering is going to have a website with galleries for you to review. If you're looking for someone to shoot a wedding, you probably don't want to pick a photographer who doesn't have any wedding photos on his website.
Second, interview the photographer. To no small degree, this is going to be a relationship. One key element in any successful relationship is communication. You have to know that you can communicate with your photographer, and you have to know that your photographer can communicate with you.
Third, ask for references. If a photographer is hesitant to give you references, you should be hesitant to hire him. A photographer with references is someone who has a track record of taking care of clients. This is the photographer you want to hire.
Finally, understand the "Do's & Don'ts" of hiring a photographer.
Do expect your photographer to show up on time, be presentable and ready to shoot. There's more to being "professional" than being paid. Be aware of that.
Expect that he's ready to deal with time considerations and equipment failures. Hire a photographer who has "back up" equipment.
- Do expect to pay a fair price for a photographer. A photographer has a particular skill set which he's taken time to perfect. He's invested in his business and equipment to ensure that his clients receive the best possible product. Understand that, just as you expect to be paid when you do your job, so does the photographer expect to be paid when he does his.
- Do ask questions. Write them down, and write down the photographer's responses. Know what's expected of you, but also be sure to let the photographer know what's expected of him, too.
- Don't expect your photographer to turn over unedited files. This is something that is almost never done and, when it is, it usually comes with a very steep price tag.
- Don't expect the photographer to perform miracles; He's a photographer, not a magician. He can edit the teenage acne off the face of your cousin Timmy. If Timmy is 300 pounds, though, the photographer isn't going to be able to make Timmy look like a svelte 170.
- Understand that you'll be expected to pay a non-refundable deposit. Why? Photographers often book dates well in advance. If you schedule a shoot for a particular day, then the photographer expects to shoot for you, and may very well turn down other engagements for that same day. If you back out of the shoot, it could well be too late for him to book another client. Keep in mind that your deposit is a two way commitment. By paying it, you're telling the photographer that you will be there. By accepting your deposit, the photographer is saying that he'll be there, too.
- Don't expect your photographer to work for free. If a scheduled three hour portrait session approaches four hours, expect to pay an additional fee. It's just right and fair.
- More than anything, maintain the lines of communication open with your photographer. I honestly don't know that I've ever seen a problem arise which couldn't have been thwarted had the two parties simply talked to each other beforehand.
Keep these things in mind, talk to your photographer, and enjoy!
Steve is proud to use Canon cameras and lenses...