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Deciding on who to choose as your portrait photographer can sometimes be a tricky process, especially if you do not have dependable sources to rely on for recommendations.
The last thing you want to do is choose blindly and risk wasting money and time!
So in this post, you’ll discover the key things you should be looking for in a photographer, that will help empower you to make the right decision for whom to partner with.
First up, you need to see their portfolio…
A photographer is only as good as his images!
Although his talk may be impressive, where the rubber meets the road is in how good his portfolio is.
In this day and age, you really should be able to see their portfolio online on a website of sorts, or at the very least, as a set of PDFs that can be emailed.
No portfolio means no go – period!
Ultimately, you’ll like their photography style or you won’t. If you do, then a good idea is to ask the photographer to talk you through the shots.
You should find they’ll happily oblige you and they should be able to clearly explain why they used the angles they did, what part the lighting played in order to create effects and what they intended the portrait to convey, etc.
If you find they do not want to talk you through their work or can’t, ask why and if the answer is unsatisfactory, walk away.
There may be a legitimate reason as to why they can’t, such as lack of time, but other than that, they should only be too pleased to comment on their artistry.
Next up, ask them to talk more about the way to go about their business…
In a word, interview them!
If not already covered off during the portfolio stage, ask about the processes they go through for preparing for shoots.
Quiz them about the way they prepare the space and their subjects, both physically and mentally.
Find out what their “thing” is when it comes to portraiture. Is it lighting, the pose, the background, etc? What is their X factor that helps them deliver portraits in exactly the right way for them.
Because a photographer is not just a photographer!
A photographer is an artist and a director and that should come through in the way they describe how they go about their work.
Thirdly, ask for names of clients (former or existing) to contact for testimonials…
Now, it’s possible you may not be given details of clients to contact due to privacy issues and that’s fine.
All you need to do instead is read the testimonials on their website in order to get a feel for how good they are.
In the absence of testimonials, ask why there are none and if the reason is not satisfactory, you’re well within you rights to ask for some kind of guarantee.
But if neither testimonial, nor guarantee of sorts is forthcoming, you may want to reconsider whether this is the right person for you.
Now, every photographer works differently so you may get a variety of responses here, but it’s only natural for customers to want to have some kind of “social proof”, to help justify their future decision, so it’s a very valid request to make.
Next, get a clear understanding of their pricing and deliverables…
What you want is a no fluff, non-ambiguous set of replies here, that outline EXACTLY what you are going to get for your money and when!
So ask about cost, ask about volume and variation of prints, format and standard delivery timescales.
Any professional photographer will have a proper set of costs and timings that make sense and are fully justifiable.
Feel free to see copies of previous itemised invoices, if you have any doubts about what you’ve been told.
Last and not least, assess how well you felt they connected with you and how comfortable they made you feel…
To get the best portraits, your photographer needs to be able to communicate properly with you and to be aware of your requirements, needs and potentially, your sensitivities.
At the same time, you want to be able to feel comfortable in their presence, to be able to freely communicate back to them and have the feeling that you are in great and professional hands.
So listen to your gut feeling here!
If everything else is perfect, but the personal connection isn’t their, then you may want to think again.
You want to make sure ALL the elements are in place, before you make your mind up.
And of course, there should be no rush…
Feel free to take the time to go away, mull things over and then come back when you are ready – it’s your decision, so take all the time you need.
Ok – happy hunting.