How to choose THE RIGHT Photographer for You | Chicago Couple + Maternity + Family Photographer
The reason this blog post came to mind is because I’ve notice that sometimes people don’t always know what to look for when they book a photographer. And that’s Ok and completely understandable. So, I’m here today to help you make a better choice when hiring a photographer.
I’ve received a few emails from clients stating that they booked a photographer and were not happy with their images (including me, yes, I’m coming vulnerably honest here!). I’ve received emails like: “do you remember when I inquired with you a few months ago? Well we didn’t reply because we went with someone cheaper… Biggest regret ever.” And others, related to my work, like: “I wished we had more traditional images, your images look beautiful but they were not what we were looking for”. These comments made me think, and the truth is that not every photographer is for everyone, because we are all very different. We behave different, we shoot differently, we all edit differently, etc. So how do you know which photographer is right for you?
Well, I cannot answer that, but I can give you few tips you should consider before hiring a photographer. For example, in my case, my style of photography is very much laid back, candid and honest. No awkward poses, minimal editing, and I chase natural interactions and expressions that allow your personalities to shine through. Every family is different as so is every photographer. There’s so much talent out there, so don’t settle!! Whatever the style you are looking for, here are 7 tips on how to choose the right photographer for you.
1.NOT ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE CREATED EQUAL + NOT EVERY PHOTOGRAPHER HAS THE SAME APPROACH.
In our portfolio we are showing you what we love the most about what we do, and probably, what we can do best, so don’t choose a photographer who focuses on storytelling (like I do) if you want traditional portrait. Identify if what you want is in the photographer’s portfolio. If you aren't sure of what you want, that is ok too, because a photographer should take the time to talk to you about it personally (coffee date anyone??) if you contact them with a serious inquiry (Bonus: you'll have a good indicator of the level of service you'll receive and if you like him/her you’ll know what to expect at the moment of the session).
Even though I treasure the academic component, it is well known that there are a lot of fantastic and super talented photographers that are self-taught, and that is ok too. What matters generally is whether you like their photographs or not, so take your time to check out their portfolio!
In my specific case, I was trained in a documentary photography school, and that plays a big role in my approach to photography. Other photographers were trained in fine art, editorial, commercial, traditional, the approaches are several and all so different, but in the end, it’s your eye and your gut who will decide what or who speaks to you with their photos.
First of all: find a photographer whose portfolio make you go “WOW”, you must you feel the emotion captured! Search photographers in your area, look at their portfolios, read their blogs, and select those whose style grabs you… There is no reason to settle if that’s not what you want.
Here you will find a few links for my portfolio dived in categories and a little info about what to expect during my sessions:
Ask around and search online to read reviews and recommendations from other families that have used the photographers you’re considering for your photos. This will tell you a little bit about the whole experience —from the booking process to after the session, to a family that’s been where you’re about to be. You deserve a photographer with good disposition, someone who is more than nice to you. Someone who truly loves what they do!
4.YOU MUST LIKE AND TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!
This is SO important!! A great place to get to know the photographer before you book them is their About Page on their website. You can usually get a good sense of their personality there. Also, check their blog and social media pages, if you like what you see, contact them!
Did you get along? Do you have things in common? Does it feel like you could be friends in real life? If yes, you are usually on the right track. This job is a VERY personal job.
I usually meet with my clients at least one time before the photoshoot to get to know each member of the family, and to make sure I’m getting the access needed in order to capture tender and honest moments. I love documenting families as they grow. I love it when kids remember me and are excited to see me, even though I see them only once or twice a year. And I feel each session gets better because I am connected with that family on a deeper level every time we shoot.
If you don’t feel a connection, move on to another photographer! One size does not fit all in this case. Every family's needs are a little different and each photographer is too, so take the time to find your dream photographer. You deserve it!
Cost is of course, something to consider and it often cases it can be the deciding factor. However, the most important thing to figure out is what is included in the cost of the session: How much are all the digital files? How much do prints cost? Do they have collections? Are there session fees? Is sales tax included? All very important. There should be nothing hidden at the time of booking and you also have the freedom to ask.
You’ll also need to take into account how the photographer charges for their work. Some charge an all-in fee where you just pay a fixed fee for the session and usually a set number of digital images. Some will charge a separate session fee for the photoshoot and then offer various images packages that can be purchased after the photoshoot. Some have an a la carte approach where you can just pick and choose individual products. Decide what you’re planning to use the images for, and this should help you decide which photographer suits your needs best.
6.ALL INCLUSIVE? A LA CARTE?
There is no right or wrong answer here: Some photographers do not have time to sell prints, and some do not wish to sell digitals. Make sure you are aware of this prior to booking your session.
I for one, will always do all inclusive package with the possibility to a la carte add ons. I edit a lot of images with the hope that my families enjoy them all. I really want people to be able to print their favorite photos whenever they want, without having to spend crazy amounts of money.
There is not right or wrong way to do it. Book what YOU want!
7.BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S POLICIES BEFORE BOOKING.
Here are some questions you may want to ask if they aren’t clear:
What will happen in the event of bad weather?
What is the cancellation policy?
When will you have access to your images?
Do they offer any additional services such as gallery wall design, custom framing, installation, or delivery?
Are any digital negatives or prints included in the session price?
Is a print credit included?
How long after the shoot will the gallery be posted?
What time of day do you shoot?
The questions are endless, and the most important thing here is that your questions are being answered.
Once you find a photographer you love, stick with them! I wish you the best luck finding that perfect photographer for you and your crew, and please share your lovely images with me. I can’t wait to see them!!