Hiring a professional photographer can be a daunting task. You want your photos to be the best they can, but you don’t necessarily want to have to sign over your first born to be able to afford them. And then there’s the importance of it all – corporate ID’s, wedding day memories, retirement party – things that if you get it wrong by choosing the wrong photographer, you will regret for a very long time, possibly forever. So, how to know which professional photographer is the right one for you? Here’s a quick list of 5 questions to ask every prospective photographer on your list. The answers to these should help you narrow the field to just the right one or two shutterbugs to fit the bill.
1.) Do you have experience with ___________(the type of event/photography you need)?
If so, can I see your portfolio? – The first and most important thing when hiring a photographer is to ensure that they actually do take the kind of photos that you need. Some prefer to specialize in portrait photography, and wouldn’t be ideal to cover events. Other pros have the equipment and experience to take all the event photos you’d ever want. If you get a “yes”, then ask to see their previous work. Even new pros should have a student portfolio of work to share, so you can see if their style matches with your expectations.
2.) What are your fees and payment requirements?
The best photographer in town isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t afford to hire them, or if their payment requirements are too prohibitive. Typically, there will be a required deposit of some sort. Then, depending on your photographer, there may be an invoice, or you may have to pay the remainder at the time the photographs are taken. Just ensure that the requirements and process for payments suits your needs, as well as the price of the photography.
3.) Hours available?
If your photographer isn’t available when you need them to be, they can have the best experience, most extensive portfolio and cheapest prices in town, and they still won’t suit your needs. If hiring for a corporate shoot, they’ll have to be available during the day, during the week. This may prove a problem for some, as they work on their own time away from work for newspapers or other studios, or even other professions.
4.) Do you need to see the site/room beforehand?
Some events, and even portrait sittings, require the photographer to do a bit of reconnaissance before the actual shoot. They may need to look for natural light sources, as well as shadows, or interesting points for angled shots. Portrait shoots will require a space with enough room for the backdrops, seats, lights, and other equipment. You’ll need to make time to meet with the photographer at approximately the same time as the event or photo shoot, to give them the best idea of what they’ll be working with.
5.) What do you need from us?
This is just a general courtesy question that can go a long way to establishing a good relationship, and a successful shoot, with your photographer. Your photographer may have suggestions or concerns regarding wardrobe, or lighting, or space. They may have some ideas for shots, but need your permission or approval, as they fall outside of your expressed desires. Open dialogue will help make your experience smooth, easy, and enjoyable.
Hiring a professional photographer need not be stressful or unsuccessful. A few simple questions can help you narrow down the field and choose the best person for the job.