Choosing a professional photographer can be daunting. It is so subjective and there are just so many photographers out there. So where do you start you may ask?
Here are some of our thoughts and tips on making sure you select the best professional photographer that suits you and your needs.
Being in the industry for as long as we have you see many photography studios come and go. Reputable studios have usually existed for a long time. Do your research and find out how long the photographer has been in business.
Good photographers specialise. Engage the right person or photography studio for the job. If you are getting married book an experienced wedding photographer who knows how to handle a big day and everything that may arise on the wedding day from weather and lighting changes to a rushed time schedule.
If you are looking for family portraits choose someone that is amazing with children and has the patience and knowledge to capture your kid's personality.
If you require newborn photography this is even more specialised. There are certain timeframes newborns should be photographed in if you are wanting to capture those gorgeous sleeping and swaddled images. Ask if the baby photographer shoots in a studio or comes to you. New parents often need a mobile photographer to come the home or hospital for their newborn photos.
Check on any professional photography accreditations. In Australia looking at members of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers AIPP is a great place to start. An Accredited Professional Photographer is a photographer, who doesn't just claim to be a "professional" but earns that title by successfully completing a rigorous AIPP accreditation process. Accreditation is designed to give the consumer, confidence that your Professional Photographer is a proven, experienced, technically capable, professional practitioner, who complies with all legal business requirements, has appropriate insurance and who is willing to agree to the mandatory Code of Professional Practice and to the requirement to continually improve their photographic skills by committing to continue their professional development. You can also ask the photographer if they enter or have won any photography awards.
Look at the technical ability of the photographer. Look at their ability to photograph in different lighting situations and different weather conditions. A great photographer should be able to expose their images and shoot under pressure in any conditions. The easiest wedding to shoot is a wedding in the daytime, with a ceremony in shade and natural light. But not every wedding is like this and you could be getting married in a dim church or you’re having an outdoor wedding in full sun. This is why it is really important that you specifically look for a photographer that’s skilled with lighting different environments. Don’t assume that experience equals skill in tricky lighting. Look for weddings shot in similar environments to what yours will be in your photographer’s portfolio, and ask questions on how they would handle your situation.
Look over the photographer's portfolio. Is it extensive? Does it show a range of work over a long period of time? If there is a team of photographers ask to see each photographers work as they will vary in style slightly.
Check if they have a team around them. If your photographer is sick or is unable to make your shoot so they have someone else as reliable and professional they can send. This is particularly important when booking a professional wedding photographer.
Check all of the photographers’ socials from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and websites. This will give you a better indication of the photographer’s work, style and their following. It will also give you an indication of their standing in the industry and any comments or reviews that may be worthwhile reading.
Check online reviews and testimonials. We absolutely love when our clients send us testimonials and share their reviews online. There is nothing better than word of mouth and taking from someone else’s experiences – be that bad or good. The more research you do, the more comfortable you will be with your decision in choosing the best professional photographer for you.
Look at their camera equipment. If you are looking for a professional photographer there is a certain standard of equipment that is required to achieve quality results. For example, here at de lumiere photography we exclusively shoot with Canon professional cameras and equipment. We are members of Canon Professional Services CPS in Australia. This means all of our equipment is regularly tested and cleaned to ensure the best possible images in terms of sharpness and overall quality. Canon Professional Services (CPS) is a service created to help professional photographers using Canon equipment. Not all photographers qualify; there are strict criteria to become a member of this exclusive service and take advantage of its benefits. We also make sure we have lots of back up equipment – you never know what may happen and as photographers you never want to miss a shot!
Make sure the photographer's style suits you. Photography is such a creative process and it is better if you choose them based on their style and because you love it. You don’t want to try and get a photographer to change their style. We love receiving inspiration from our clients but at the end of the day there is a particular way and style we shoot to and this is when we achieve the best results.
Check out if other professionals recommend them. Referrals are often the best way to ensure you are going to get a true professional.
Look at their pricing and compare. Photographers will range in prices from the very cheap to the more expensive. It is like everything – you get what you pay for. You are not only paying for a photographer's time, you are paying for their skills and experience, hours spent in post-production for retouching and polishing images through to colour correction and editing and the quality of the final product including handmade pieces.
When you compare photographers it can be hard to see the differences. One way to compare is to look at the overall quality of the finished files and the professional printing. Ask if the photographer shoots RAW files or JPEGS. Photographers achieve much better finished results when using RAW files.
Explore the photography product range available to you. What products do you want to end up with and what will you treasure in years to come? We suggest not just looking at USB’s or shoot and burn packages. Check that there is there a good range of albums, frames, papers, acrylic blocks and coffee table books to name a few. Engaging a professional photographer should also be about printing great quality images for you to physically hold, hang on your walls and flick through in an album.
Ask where the photographer is located and if they have options to come to you. Is there a studio or do you meet on location?
Ask about timelines and talk about your expectations on delivery. Once your photography session or wedding day has ended how long will you be waiting to receive your images and art pieces? Delivery of the full photo gallery can range from a week to six months. Faster isn’t always better. As a guide we take approximately 6 weeks to finalise, edit and polish our wedding galleries ready for viewing and 2-4 weeks for our newborn photography and family portraits.
Most importantly photography is all about personalities. Do you connect? Personality and connecting with your photographer is crucial to you enjoying your family photography session or your wedding day photography experience. Take the time to get to know your photographer. Discuss and plan your shoot as much as you can so you are both on the same page when it comes to your photography.