This post is the first in what will be a regular feature during the quiet season. Check back here every Tuesday for more tips and advice. We'll cover everything from planning for great images during your wedding or portrait session, to taking better pictures with your own camera!
Choosing a professional photographer to capture your wedding or a portrait session is a big decision. Not only can the options be overwhelming, but you are placing a lot of trust in the person you choose to do a very important job. Below are 5 tips to help you narrow down your search:
1. Think about personality.
Take the time to meet with anyone you are seriously considering hiring. Of all the vendors you hire for your wedding day, the photographer is the one you will spend the most time with. Is this someone who you think can handle your Uncle Bob's enthusiasm for camera shop talk, or your two year old's inability to sit still for more than 5 seconds? It is worth it to find someone that makes you feel comfortable and confident!
2. Think about style.
Every photographer is different - some people specialize in posed, more formal shots, while others take a strictly photojournalistic approach and simply capture things as they happen. Most professionals these days have a mix of both approaches. Think hard about the type of images you want to have captured. Do you prefer images where there is lots of movement and people seem relaxed? Do you envision updating the family photo album with lots of formal shots? Take time to look carefully through the website and portfolio of any photographer you are thinking about hiring, and ask yourself if their style is what you are comfortable with and what you want to see in your images.
3. Think about professionalism.
Anyone can purchase an SLR digital camera and take bookings. However, there is a big difference between a professional with experience and a hobbyist. A professional photographer will have:
-Professional grade lenses and cameras, and back ups for both in case of equipment failures.
-The ability to confidently answer your questions about how they handle complications like poor weather, schedule delays, and any other concerns you may have. For example, a professional should be able to competently use lighting equipment to shoot in indoor spaces, even if their preference is to use natural light outdoors.
-Planning skills. A professional photographer should be able to suggest locations and times of day that will produce quality looking images. They will work with you to create a shooting schedule that allows for enough time to get the images you want. They should also include scouting for locations ahead of time - either a visit to the site before the date of the shoot, or plan to arrive early to allow for set up and location selection.
-A full contract that details the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Contracts ensure that both you and the photographer have a clear understanding of what is expected, and protects you both. Good contracts have detailed information about cancellation policies, liability, ordering and delivery deadlines, and details about exactly what is included in the price you are paying.
4. Think about skill.
Remember when I asked you to look through the websites of anyone you were considering? go back and take a critical look at the portfolio. Warning signs that you may be looking at someone who isn't as experienced as they should be:
-poor lighting - dark shadows under the eyes, mixed lighting (highlights and dark shadows falling across the subject), or shots where the subjects are squinting
-strange colours - some people purposely process images that have faded or different colours to give them a vintage feel. This is different than colour casts, where every part of the picture, even the whites of eyes, seems to be a strange colour. Be especially wary of portfolios where the majority of images have a blue, yellow, magenta, or green cast - these indicate problems with managing a camera's white balance
-odd positions or uncomfortable expressions. Not every image a professional photographer takes will be perfect, but there should consistent examples of people who look comfortable and like they are enjoying themselves.
5. Think about price.
While everyone needs to work within their own budget, the most important point that I can make is this - consider all of the above points before you let price become a factor. Be wary of photographers whose prices seem too good to be true - you often get what you pay for.
Next week - the questions you need to ask when meeting a photographer!