Tips on how to pick a good photographer.
It seems there’s a saturated market just about everyone is a professional photographer and whats even more interesting is a lot of people seem to settle for the mediocre range of photographers, so how do you know who's worth your money and who isn't?
# 1: The portfolio
As your first line of defense their portfolio should give away a lot, after all its what they consider their absolute best work that they are proud to show to the whole world. Imagine on a good day you will probably get 2-4 pictures in a set of this level and the rest somewhat lesser quality. It amazes me I need to even put this here, but there is some pretty awful stuff out there.
Things to look for, Focus is the picture correctly focused, are the subjects nice and sharp even on closer inspection, I have actually seen a picture on someones portfolio where the subjects nose was out of focus!! remember this is their best work!! If they can’t find a sharp picture for their portfolio then its unlikely they can manage sharp pictures on your special occasion and believe me paying for a fuzzy picture of your wedding day is NO NO, guests can do those for free.
Lighting, photographers are basically technicians of light, from the placing of their subjects in the composition of the picture to the edit room, our craft is harnessing and manipulating light to provide you with a work of art worth your time and money. If the pictures have dark shadows or inappropriate shading over faces or the subjects are squinting awkwardly into the sunlight, its a pretty obvious test that the photographer in question is not all that experienced in light manipulation nor subject placement.
Subject placement, look at the photos from an artistic perspective, lines should flow, models or the camera should be placed in a way to make the overall feel of the picture balanced and easy on the eye, it should have flow and a sense of balance. Aunt Maude should not have a tree growing out her hair and the groomsmen should be in a flattering arrangement more rock band than awkward line of preschoolers at a dance (yep, this is a classic). Part of a good photographers job is to set their subjects at ease and get shots of them relaxed and looking natural even if posed. Does the overall composition of the pictures give you a sense of someone with a good artistic eye? or just someone who just has a good camera who took pictures of a cute couple and layered on a basic effect?
Editing, Nearly every app and phone is installed with some form of photo editing software these days. so a true dedicated artist who would undoubtedly have access to the best programs of editing software should not allow any of their artworks to hit public viewing without first having cleaned up unwanted items, such as cars, street lights or signs that are invading a good shot. Nothing trained my eye on backgrounds better than editing out cars and sign posts. Their is no excuse for lazy or sloppy workmanship if you’re parting with your dollars. This can also be an added extra in most photographers packages, and believe me that can get pricey if you're paying by picture to have things cleaned up. I include full edits in all packages because I only want the best of my brand to be public.
#2 Style, There are indeed different styles of photography and few photographers will be good at all of them. Most will have one or at most 2 styles they are strong in and this will reflect in their portfolio. If you're not sure what they are just make sure the atmosphere of their work fits with your own vision and you can see your occasion portrayed in that style. If you ask for a style that is different a professional should point you in the direction of contact who is capable of achieving what you desire. If a photographer agrees to shoot a style differing from their typical, make sure to get proof they can achieve the desired results and are not simply accepting the business for financial reasons.
#3 Customer service. After a lifetime of high end customer service this is one of my personal tests. If you find the greatest photographer in the world but they wont answer your emails or respond to your inquiries in a timely manner you're going to get frustrated. If they are flaky and unreliable stage one, how likely will they be to go above and beyond to provide you with a satisfactory product to the end. Part of the service. How you strike a rapport with your photographer, do you get on? Do they put you at ease? Could you feel comfortable sharing your most intimate moments with them? Do you want someone to lead more on the occasion or be more like a fly on the wall? Make sure the personality matches with your vision not just the photos, the last thing you need on your special occasion is someone taking over or to shy to get the shots.
#4 Product What are they selling you? Most offer fairly similar types of products, but each vendor will have a different taste, they should
give you some examples of what you can expect at offset, do you like the quality, the style of frames? Are you concerned with where their materials come from, Weinstock products are ethically
sourced, reclaimed and non toxic to the environment. Our prints come with a 100 year guarantee in sunlight, 200 in shade, this is reflected in the cost, be wary as some photographers will print
their images at CVS and charge premium rates, don't be afraid to ask what you will get for your buck.
#5 Pricing, The old saying you get what you pay for is key here, there will always be the budget entry level options known as slash and burn photographers who will provide fast unedited photos at low cost, the wallmart of photographic packages. But don't expect a masterpiece you will frame and gush over for years to come. A professional has dedicated hours of study to mastering the elements in #1 add to that a basic professional kit costs 15k, then there is taxes, insurance, studio rent, liability insurance and editing which can run into 60 hours or more alone for a wedding. A professional has the best kit, sourced the best vendors and partners to provide a professional product that is worth paying for and that is all reflected in the price. It will take several years in business before a photographer actually starts to profit from their business. That being said if your dream photographer is out your price range, don't be afraid to ask if they can compromise, 2 hours with your dream tog is better than none, it may well be all you need to get that one dream shot that will hang on your wall for the rest of your life.