Choose Your Photographer Wisely.
I contemplated writing this article for many reasons. For starters, I'm sure it's been written a million times, but also because I wasn't quite sure exactly how I was going to write it. Pricing is a big factor when it comes to selecting a photographer, and it is a super touchy subject in the photography community. Some get offended, while others are extremely helpful. I wanted to write this article with an open mind while still offering solid information to you as the consumer. I hope I didn't fail you.
I often wonder if families who inquire about a portrait session with me are annoyed with my bazillion questions. I mean, are you? 99 out of 100 inquiries with me typically start like this.....what is your pricing? Which is fine, but I just wish people were a little more creative with their questions. I need solid information to know what you're looking for. Imagine for a second that you want to re-do your kitchen. You message a contractor with "what is your pricing?" What in the world are they supposed to do with that? Maybe what you want is something they don't offer. They have no idea what you're looking for, the finishes you wish to see, the measurement they're working with, and so on..... Now, I can't say this is a complete comparison, but I do feel it's similar.
As a family and newborn photographer in Batavia, NY, I thought it might be fun to share some tips on finding the right photographer for YOU. I would like to say that at the end of this article the photographer for the job was me, but that's just not realistic. Instead, it's my job to help guide you through the process by asking questions to make sure that we as a team have similar end goals.
There are so many factors involved when selecting a photographer for your family portraits, and I'm sure there are a few you didn't even consider. The photography industry is just swarming with brilliant talent, that I can absolutely understand how daunting of a task it is to find one that is just right for you. Here are a few bullet points to get you started. Read on to understand why each is crucial in the photographer selection process.
- "Meet" the Photographer
The obvious starting point would be budget, or so you might think. You can pretty much find a family/newborn photographer from free to upwards of $2000+. So, basically there's a photographer available for every budget. As much as I'd like to educate you on why the price range varies so much, I can't. There are just too many factors involved to make an assumption as to why a photographer's price is what it is. Being that the price range is so wide, I think that having your budget as the starting point is all wrong. Instead, I think the actual starting point is deciding what kind of experience you're looking for. This brings me to the rest of the list starting with style.....
What does "style" mean when discussing photographers? Let's start with posing. At the end of the day every photographer has a similar end goal; a happy family. How they go about it is the difference. Do you want traditional, posed portraits or laid back, in the moment portraits? For me, in the moment portraits always win, but that's just my personal preference. It's important you understand what YOU want. Next up, location. Think about selecting a location that speaks to your personal style. Do you like the studio look (backdrops, sets, props), outdoors, or in your home? And finally, editing style. Every photographer has an editing style that signifies their brand. For me, it's rich tones and dramatic lighting. There is also light and airy as well as, heavily composited photos, or in other words, artsy and whimsical. What style fits with your family dynamic and will best tell your story? How to decide which editing style best fits your personality is to consider your wardrobe selection and home decor. Typically you will find that the photographers who guide their clients to wear rich tones, typically have a very colorful and bold editing style whereas, photographers that edit light and airy usually work with a lot of earth tones, neutrals, and pastel type colors. The whimsical, artsy type photographers are something I would use for a special project. Maybe a large piece of artwork in a kid's bedroom or a special birthday theme of sorts and so on. Often times these photographers also offer regular sessions, so just be sure to check out ALL of their work. Keep in mind though, that reviewing a photographers work is not enough research to decide if a photographer is right for you.
"MEET" THE PHOTOGRAPHER
I can't stress this enough, READ THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S ABOUT ME PAGE! This may seem pointless, but so is doing all the other research, showing up to your session and your personalities clash. I personally want a photographer who is upbeat, fun, laid back, and can take on my potty mouth and dirty humor (under my breathe, of course). You might have different expectations for your photographer. You will be spending quite a bit of time with this person, and they may even be the photographer you choose for all of your portrait needs. Many of the families that I work with have actually become close friends of mine. I think that is just the coolest thing. A couple of other ways to learn more about the photographer is to check out reviews that other families have left. What do they have to say about their experience with this person? And finally, request a consultation via phone, Skype, Facetime, or in person to ask them questions. As the photographer, the more I know about the families I get to work with, the better. I am able to capture true personalities because I've taken the time to find out what the family loves to do together. Sometimes I get inquiries from families mentioning how terrible their last session went with another photographer. You will never hear me slander another photographer because I wasn't there to understand what happened. It might be just something as simple as the family didn't do their full research on said photographer. It might even come down to what I previously mentioned; a clash of personalities. I don't know. I can only advise you to do your research!
Finally, services. I'm not just talking about what type of photography they offer, rather, how they deliver your portraits. How do you want your portraits to be delivered? Prints or digitals? Being in the digital age, I think people often forget that some photographers offer prints and products as part of their service. When I started out, I just offered digitals because that's what I thought families wanted. I soon found out that families don't really know what they want. I was doing it backwards! It's my job to educate you on what's available, research different products that are on the market, and understand why the products are important for archiving your treasured memories. I spend more time helping families try to download files, find different products, places to print and making sure the labs know that I've given them permission to print, that why not just relieve them from the stress of it all and do it myself. I also didn't feel like I was completing the service. To me, it kind of feels like I'm handing families the negatives and they have to finalize the work. Also, if I'm being totally honest. I am being a little selfish as well. I can't tell you how much joy it brings to me to see Mom and/or Dad's face when I deliver them their prints. It really is the icing on the cake for me. I do still offers digitals, but I have decided to add in a print credit so my families have both options. Decide what's important to you and your family when choosing which photographer best fit for your needs.
In closing, the reason why I'm OKAY with not being your photographer is because I'd rather send 50 families to a photographer who will provide them with the service they're looking for, than photograph 1 family who will ultimately be unhappy with the results of their images. In addition, often times I only get ONE chance at getting the images right. I'm not willing to take a chance on your memories because I "thought" I could do the job. I hope this article has offered you a little insight into the selection process of your family/newborn (or any) photographer. And, if you do find a photographer that you love and have to have, but they're out of your price range, ask if they offer a payment plans and if so, their guidelines involving the payment plan. Another thing to consider is do your research well before you need a photographer. Many book families a year in advance. That will give you plenty of time to save up and plan. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I thank you for your time.
Lots of Love,