Choosing your photographer
Whether it's your wedding day, your child's first photos or your annual family photo, choosing the right photographer for you is important. We are passionate about photography and, while it is our job, the most important thing to us is that people treasure what a photograph can give them. The feelings a photograph can evoke will last long after your wedding cake is gone, after your child graduates and after all the stress of "what to wear" is over with. While we specialize in evoking those feelings and capturing amazing moments and breathtaking images and we hope you choose Studio Eleven as your photographer, we'd like to provide you with some insight into how to make your choice.
• The first thing you should look at when choosing a photographer is their work. Do you like their style? Is it what you've envisioned for yourself? This, above everything else, is the most important thing. View their work, samples of photography they've done (especially samples of the type of photography you are wanting). You'll want to see samples of their wedding photography or newborn photography or special event photography or whatever it is you are planning on hiring them for. All photography is different and while a photographer may take breathtaking family photos, a wedding is an entirely different ballgame. The same goes with newborn photography, where skill, patience and experience play a key role in the resulting images.
• Find out what their final product is. What will you get for your money? While we live in a digital world these days where everyone wants digital files, it's also very important to print your photos. One day, when your great great great grandchildren are poking around in your attic they'll come across a USB full of your wedding photos and have no way to access them. Technology changes. Prints, albums, canvases are the way to ensure that future generations will actually get to enjoy your photos. Does the photographer you're looking at offer these things? What quality are they? Ask to see samples. And don't expect high quality products to be as inexpensive as a print from Walgreens. But you should expect it to look better and last longer!
• How easy is it to communicate with the photographer? Do they have a website? A Facebook page? Email? Once you've chosen a photographer, it's important to have a good open line of communication should the need arise.
• How long have they been in a business? Now, this is a tricky one because someone who is just starting out has the ability to make amazing art and someone who has been in business for 20 years may be below average but, for the most part, a photographer who has been in business for more than a few years will have more experience dealing with many different scenarios and will have more knowledge of the ins and outs of their business.
• Check their credentials. Being a member of a professional association (like the Professional Photographers of America) shows a dedication to their craft and a professionalism in their business.
• Do they have insurance? This is an important one. For wedding photography, hiring a photographer without insurance is playing russian roulette. Some venues even require it. Aside from wedding photography, it's important for a professional photographer to have insurance to insure that you are covered in the event something goes wrong. Insurance protects the photographer against equipment theft, but more importantly it provides liability protection in case a client or wedding guest trips over the photographer’s light stand and breaks an arm and an expensive vase. If a wedding photographer does not have insurance, chances are they are new to the industry or are not taking their business seriously.
• Do they have a backup plan? What happens if it rains on your wedding day? What if they are sick on the day of your newborn photo shoot? What happens if their camera stops working during the middle of your session? What happens if they lose all your images? These are all things that a professional photographer will have thought about and will be able to answer for you. They are also things that a member of a professional association like PPA and someone with insurance will be able to handle should they happen.
• For wedding photography - Ask to see a full wedding. Or more than one! Wedding photography is about more than that one amazing image of the bride and groom. It is usually a full account of the day and involves many different lighting scenarios, curveballs often thrown in, managing large groups of people, thinking quickly and being able to plan accordingly.
• Shall we talk price? It seems often that the pricetag is where it all boils down for a lot of people. If you've gone through the other items and still love the photographer you've chosen, are certain they are the one for you and then find yourself in sticker shock over their price, take a breath and really think about things. Ask yourself, "How important are photographs to me?" Photography is definitely a luxury item, one that sometimes comes with a high price. However, keep this in mind....You get what you pay for. It's the same as with any other service. You're hiring a handyman to build a deck in your backyard. Handyman Joe has many years of experience, a money back guarantee and his own team of workers that ensures the job is done in 24 hours. Handyman Jack is several hundred dollars cheaper but, when you hire him he takes three months to finish the job and your deck is crooked. If quality is important to you and you place value in your experience and in getting the best photos you can then I definitely urge you to look beyond the price tag. Money can be saved up to afford a luxury item like good photography. Many photographers even offer payment plans. Going with the cheaper service usually ends up costing more in the long run. After Handyman Jack finishes the terrible job on the deck you'll have to hire another man to fix his mistakes. Time is fleeting. Your children are growing. The days are flying by. Your wedding is only one day. Don't trust moments you can't ever get back to someone you aren't completely certain will give you the amazing photographs you deserve just because you'll save a few bucks.
• Does your photographer require a contract? Contracts are a good thing! They cover both parties should the unforeseen happen and they lay out all the expectations on both ends. A contract should tell you what you'll get out of the deal and what the photographer requires of you. Most contracts will cover copyright, what happens after the shoot, what you can and cannot do with images, what happens in worst case scenarios, what the cost is and what you are getting for it, as well as a model release should the photographer want to use your images for advertising. A professional photographer will always require you to sign a contract.
This isn't the end all be all list of how to choose a photographer but, hopefully it is helpful in your search! If you have any questions please feel free to contact us!