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I just got off the phone with a client interested in booking a photography session, but she didn’t want to talk about anything except pricing. I encouraged her to come into the studio to meet me, see the space, go over all her ideas, etc. She said it wasn’t necessary, she just wanted to know my prices over the phone and compare them to other photographers and she will decide later. Now I am a HUGE bargain shopper so I have NO problem with the price comparing and shopping around for the best price BUT with photography there is SO MUCH MORE to getting great pictures than just price!!
Post a “looking for a photographer” on fb and you will get HUNDREDS of responses of people willing to take your picture for just a few bucks. However, there are many, many, many people out there who should NOT be calling themselves professionals and can cause harm, headache and disappointment. I want to help you make sure that YOU aren’t on the receiving end of that!
One of the BEST ways to do that is to meet your photographer! There are so many reasons why, but lets talk about my top 5!
I recommend you do this BEFORE you start calling photographers. There are so many different styles of photography out there and you need to find out what kind of photographer they are before you even consider them. Let’s name just a few styles of photography out there right now…
Once you determine a style, talk with your prospective photographer about it. I am a natural photographer who edits warm and with bright colors. I do some Bright and Airy as well. My sessions are mostly posed with lots of lifestyle breaks to capture the moments between the press. I have had clients has for a full Bright and Airy session. Cool, I can do that. You want a full Dark and Moody session, nope I’m not your photographer. It’s just not my style. Even the best photographer in the world is going to disappoint you if their style of shooting and editing is not what you are wanting!
Find out if you LIKE your photographer. I always tell my clients we need to make sure we are a good match and if we aren’t, that is OKAY! The photographer is going to be spending a lot of time with you and his/her personality is going to lead the way on how the session feels and how YOU feel taking the pictures. If the personality of the photographer isn’t compatible with yours, the session is going to feel stressed and possibly even annoying.
I am bright and bubbly. I am corny with my jokes, will often call you mom and dad (verses your names on a family session as I direct you), will snort and fake sneeze and dance very badly to get your kids to laugh, I might climb a wall or balance on a fence to get the shot, etc. If those thing annoy or scare you, it’s okay to pass on me! You are hiring me to make you FEEL and look amazing. If you are inwardly cringing when I greet you with “hey girl” or “hey hon” we are already off to bad start!
So meet your photographer and ask yourself “Would I enjoy spending a few hours with this person?” If the answer is no, keep looking!
Once you know if you like them, you need to find out if THEY like you for the kind of photography you are wanting! Do they like Kids? Dogs? Husbands?
The husbands part is a joke… kinda lol. I have found that LOTS of husbands and dads really don’t like having their pictures taken, so make sure you find a photographer that can be patient with that and help ease the tension. Teenagers can bring the same amount of angst and annoyance at having to do pictures. Does your photographer know how to work with that?
As for the kids, I have met so many people who said “I don’t think my last photographer even likes kids” or “They seemed to be uncomfortable when my kid acted out.” Photographers photographing kids should be expecting meltdowns and know what to do when they happen. I know YOU are going to get frustrated and upset if little Tommy is acting crazy, my attitude should calm you and little Tommy down, not add to that stress!
Same for dogs, do you want Fifi included in the family portraits? How does your photographer feel about pitbulls? Or Chihuahuas? Have they photographed pets before? Important things to ask!
Of course, price is a HUGE factor in determining which photographer you are going to choose. Meeting your photographer is the PERFECT time to go over their price list. Photographers who just “send out” their price list are often complaining in our photography groups about clients not reading it and then being frustrated at their ordering appointments. You need to know exactly what is included upfront and what is expected later.
When meeting your photographer BEFORE your session you can discuss sessions fees, digital images, printing rights, products you can purchase, etc. You can feel the albums, touch the canvases and wall art, hold the blanket, try on the portrait jewelry, etc. You can ask questions about payment plans and delivery options. That way there are no surprises after your session. You want to truly love and enjoy your portraits when you first see them, not be frustrated about surprise pricing!
What happens on the shoot if the photographers equipment breaks? Does he/she have backup equipment? A professional photographer should always have backup equipment because we all know technology doesn’t always cooperate. Do you really want to have to cancel your session and do it all again later if there is a technical problem?
For newborn photography, photographers need to be TRAINED and educated for newborn safety. Are you really going to trust your 10 day old baby to someone who hasn’t been trained? There are many stories of babies falling, getting hurt, being burned and more by photographers who didn’t know what they were doing. Ask your photographer about their training and experience with newborns.
For boudoir, does your photographer share your images? Post them online? Are they comfortable posing all different shapes and sizes? Do they know how to enhance the parts you love, but hide the ones you don’t with posing?
Is your photographer licensed and insured? Do they have backup systems to make sure your images are safe? How long are they kept? Do they have ways to share with family and friends?
Are they experianced to handle all different lighting setups? If it’s crazy bright and sunny, or cloudy and overcast can they still get great images? What if your session is indoors in a dark room?
These are all GREAT things to discuss BEFORE your session. We all have horror stories we have heard of bad photography experiences. Don’t let it be you in the next story. Simply meet with your photographer and discuss them!
Meeting your photographer also allows you to get some great insight to having a great session! He/she can tell you all the little tips that will help your session go smoothly. If they have been doing this a while, they know ALL the tips and tricks!
They can help you pick out outfits, choose the best location for your needs, show you samples and galleries from past clients, discuss hair and makeup, go over the best times for the best shots, go over tips on how to help the family be prepared, etc. Meeting with your photographer will allow you to really talk out everything you WANT in your session and together you can bring it all together BEFORE you show up. Just “winging it” is fine in some cases, but to truly make sure your photographer captures your vision, talking it out beforehand is crucial!
Many photographers have clothes closets as well. At my studio, we have tons of newborn and baby outfits and wraps, we also have a large closet of maternity dresses, we have crowns and mermaid tails, and we have a few boudoir pieces too. These can help you as you make decisions on which photographer can meet all your needs.