Here in Northern Virginia, it's the beginning of fall. It is the time when the leaves are starting to change and we can finally say goodbye to that summer heat! We have about a month or two where the weather is beautiful, so photographers are usually very busy this time of year. It's busy because everyone wants portraits for holiday cards and we are happy to help you capture those portraits!
As clients, it is SO easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of photographers out there. Choosing someone that you can trust to capture good portraits can be a hard job, so I want to help you as much as I can! With that being said, here's a few more tips about finding the right photographer for you. This blog will focus more on things to look for and red flags that you should pay attention to. Please note that although things will be listed as red flags, they are meant to be something that you pay attention to. Sometimes, those red flags are unimportant to you. My suggestion is that you do more research on those red flags with photographers to see if it is something that you are willing to ignore, or if you want to find another photographer. With all of that being said, here are 5 more things to help you determine YOUR photographer:
1) Know if you are choosing a professional with years of experience or someone who is portfolio building. This is a really important distinction. But how can you tell? Sometimes people will tell you that they are portfolio building and charge a smaller fee or have no fee at all. The reason for this is because they know that they are still learning and portfolio building means that they will be able to practice without charging "professional prices". You can often tell a professional vs. someone still building their portfolio by.....their portfolio! Go check out their work and see if those are the kinds of images that you are looking for.
2) RED FLAG: Posting other people's work in their advertising. Have you seen photographers post gorgeous images with a lot of text above it and at the very end say something like "These pictures are not mine, but they are the inspiration!"? If so, you should be wary of hiring them. Using other peoples work to advertise is not only illegal but it is unfair to potential clients because it does not fairly represent their work.
2) Understand what their stated qualifications are. A personal example is when I first began doing newborn portraits, I explained to my clients that I was portfolio building for newborns but that I had experience with family and child portraiture. In other words, I knew how to use my camera but newborn photography is a different world than family sessions and I wanted to be upfront about that. Some photographers will say that they are certified photographers or certified in newborn safety. Look into what that certification actually means, if you are using it as a reason to hire (or not hire) someone. There are companies that you can pay to be able to say that you are certified in something, but there may not be any actual testing done to prove a level of knowledge that the word "certified" implies. Do some research into what their stated qualifications mean.
3) RED FLAG: The photographer requires that you pay in cash. While cash is awesome because it means no credit card processing fees, if it's required by the photographer, that can mean that they are not running a legitimate business. Why does that matter to you? Because if you end up having an experience where you do not get what you have paid for, it is harder to reclaim your fee.
4) Know what you are getting with your session. This can be covered in their contract but sometimes it isn't. Does the session fee include images? Will there be props available for use? Should you bring anything with you? These questions can make all the difference if you have a specific end goal in mind. A part of this is likely covered in the contract that your photographer will have you review and sign. If they do not do contracts, that can be a red flag, as well.
5) RED FLAG: Offering ALL of your digital portraits included with your session. This is a tricky one because it SEEMS great! You get to have all of the images taken during your session and it's (likely) at a pretty inexpensive price! But here is why this is actually a red flag: A professional photographer will not show you every single image from your session. Why? Because not every image is art worthy. Some portraits have children making stink faces or eyes are closed, or someone is posed awkwardly and it is unflattering. I can easily shoot 200+ portraits in a session, but I will go through them and show you the very best of the ones that we captured. If you had to sort through 200+ images, you would easily become bored of them and lose sight of the gorgeous ones because they're buried in between 20 similar shots. When people offer all of their images, it says to me that they are not confident in their craft to be able to guarantee you beautiful portraits, so they will overshoot to compensate for that.
Trust us, you don't want them all! :)
I hope that this 3 part blog has been helpful in wading through all of the photographers in your area to find the one that is just right for you!