Choosing a professional photographer can be a tricky thing if you know nothing about photography and how the process works. There are a few things that you should watch for and ask about when it comes time for you to choose a photographer that is going to fit your needs. Each photographer is different, and not every photographer is worth hiring. Always do your research! Hopefully, I can give you some tips for choosing the right professional photographer for you.
Look At Their Work
The proof is in the pudding. If you do not like someone's work that they have posted on Instagram, Facebook, website, blog, etc.; then don't hire that person and expect it to be different for you. This is something that should go without saying, but you need to know what you are getting before you pay a significant amount of money for anything! This same mentality should be used when hiring a photographer for all of your photography needs. Granted, there are some instances when something unexpected happens that causes the photographer's work to be less than what you had in mind. However, these instances are few and far between, and they may even be unnoticeable if you hire a photographer who is good at their job. There is a very simple fix to the problem of getting pictures back that you are just "not happy with at all." Don't hire someone who produces photos that you do not care for and then complain about the photos being "not what you paid for." Usually, this problems arises when someone goes with a cheaper option for their photography needs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a cheaper option. I totally understand financial difficulty and being wise with money. However, if this is you, please don't be shocked when you receive photos that reflect what you were charged. I will cover this in another point, but price does not equal quality. However, there is a general area of pricing that you can deduce as being a "professional price." If you are paying next to nothing for your photos, then you can usually expect a cheaper and more unprofessional outcome. Just think it through, and always check their work. I am not being hard on any beginner photographer because I had to start somewhere. I had to have my fair share of mess-ups when I was just starting out, and I am thankful that people hired me. That's the only reason I have the business that I do today. However, I always tried to provide quality photos and excellent service. One of the reasons that I was hired again and again and one of the reasons why people chose to take a chance on me was because they saw my photos, they looked at the consistency of my work, they liked what they saw, and they hired me. Therefore, I guess my point is to tell you to make sure to check out what the photographer produces before you just hire them. And, if you hire someone that you willing chose knowing that the photos would not be as professional as you would like, don't explain it away and throw the photographer under the bus. You hired them, and they gave you what you paid for. Just ALWAYS check their work. It will speak for itself!
Price Does Not Equal Quality
Here is where I will explain what I said in the paragraph before. Yes, prices do reflect the level of experience and quality of work that a photographer possesses. However, not all prices truly reflect the quality of work and service that a photographer can produce. For example, I was videoing a wedding one time. At that time, I believe I charged a little over $1,000 for my longest wedding video. I don't think I even had a time limit on how long I needed to be there. The couple were friends of mine, so I wasn't worried about it. However, the photographer that was shooting the wedding charged somewhere around the $9,000+ mark... I can't capitalize numbers for dramatic effect, but he literally charged around $9,000 for that wedding. That is a crazy amount to me. Here's the deal though. He ended up not getting as many shots of the bride as she would have liked, and he left sooner than they wanted him to leave. He missed the official bride and groom exit. I FINISHED OUT THE WEDDING WITH MY CAMERA! See, I can capitalize that! Granted, I do not know what his package details were, and it very well could have been his time to leave. I just do not understand leaving the bride unsatisfied for $9,000+... That is something that I can't imagine. I would have been washing their feet for $9,000+. Ok, I'm joking, but you get my point. I literally helped finish the photos for the wedding, and I did not demand extra money. I also charged peasant wages compared to his prices. So, here's my point. Don't look at someone's prices and make your final judgement. There are so many other factors that go into the professional....... ness... of a photographer that have nothing to do with a dollar sign. Keep this in mind the next time you are trying to "spend the most to get the most." It doesn't always work that way with photography.
I guess you don't technically have to always "read" reviews, but you do need to get a review of the photographer in some form. Ask other people who have used that photographer about how the whole process went. See what people are commenting on social media about that photographer. Go to the photographer's website and see if they have a place for reviews. Look the photographer up on Google, and read the reviews on there. This is a great way to figure out what kind of experiences that other people have had with this photographer. You can avoid a lot of heartache by reading reviews. We do it all the time with other things. We get on Amazon, we find the item that we want, we go down to the reviews, and we see what other people are saying about the product. So, do this same thing when hiring a photographer. If you know someone personally who has used the same photographer, ask them everything you can think of. Ask them how the photographer handles people. Ask them how long it took to get the photos back. Ask them if it was an awkward session or if they felt comfortable. Ask them if the photographer was rude or kind. Ask them if they were happy with what they got back. Ask all the questions. You can learn a lot by just asking.
Talk To The Photographer
This is something that doesn't happen all the time because it doesn't technically need to. However, it can be a big help if you are struggling with choosing a photographer. Contact the photographer, and ask to speak to them on the phone. Message them and see if they are prompt with getting back with you about things. Feel out the conversation and see if they are going to be easy to deal with. I can tell you that you do not want to hire a photographer who is hard to deal with. Frankly, they should not be in the business of capturing special moments for humanity if they are rude and difficult to be around. So, try your best to figure this out before you book them. It's not a foolproof plan, but it's definitely something that you can look for the next time you book a session with someone you have never met.
Search Outside Your Area
You most definitely should search inside your area because travel is expensive. However, don't be afraid to reach outside of your area to find the photographer that you want. Sometimes, you just can't find a photographer in your area that fits the style that you want. That is totally ok! Reach out to other photographers that live further away and see what they would charge to come to you. Or, you may even go to them. An advantage of going to them is that some photographers live in pretty cool places. For example, I have had people come to me because of where I live. I am in the edge of the beautiful Ozark Mountains. I love to hike and adventure, and that is attractive to some clients. So, they come here for an experience in the Ozarks. On the other hand, I have traveled to other states quite a few times for photos and videos because someone liked my work and they wanted me. Don't be afraid for reach out. Don't be afraid to spend a little extra money (if you are able) to get the photographer that you want. These are more than just photos. They document your life. If you can make it happen with the right photographer, then do it! You won't regret it!