Why do so many people end up disappointed!?
Well the answer to that question is simple. Not many people are educated in what to look for when hiring their professional photographer. Whether it be a wedding, christening, newborn or family session, you are commissioning what you think is a professional to capture your special moments.
I can’t count the number of times I have had a client walk into my studio and tell me a horror story that they had with their first/second/third born child, or someone I have never met message me asking if I could re-edit or ‘fix’ the images another photographer has taken. It truly breaks my heart, but brings me back to the well known fact “You get what you pay for”. But let’s be honest, no-one likes to hear that after a big disappointment.
So i have put together a little bit of material to help everyone out there so they can avoid the usual pitfalls when booking their photographer.
Ask lots of questions
Every professional photographer has a detailed pricing list/guide. At times these price lists have a cost for everything (session fee and package) and what you get within that price ie: images on a USB and products (prints, albums, canvas, frames etc). For whatever reason they don’t have this then ask many questions. When all they list is a session fee then you must ask what your cost is beyond that, if they won’t tell you because they want to show you at your ‘viewing’ then you are paying for prints separately.
Beyond the session fee some photographers have a ‘minimum spend’ amount, ask what you get for that minimum spend. It never hurts to ask questions. Walking in blind is the most dangerous thing a client can do when booking a photographer.
“For whatever reason they don’t have a detailed price list… Ask lots of questions!”
Do your research
On top of asking many questions, research your photographer. Have they been in business long? Do they have many testimonials from past clients? Do they have a strong portfolio of work for you to look at? Have they worked in their field of choice for long? Do they have qualifications?
When i talk about qualifications i don’t necessarily mean a certificate or diploma from a course, although this helps as you know they have formal training, it can also mean years of experience under their belt or they are a member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP). Training comes in all forms in this industry, it can be years of trial and error, attending mentoring sessions from other photographers or online training. Also, if it is for newborn photography which is my chosen field….have they had their booster and whooping cough shots? Do they have experience in handling and posing newborns safely? I can’t stress this enough! Make sure you are putting your little baby in safe hands.
“Do they have a strong portfolio of work for you to look at?”
Are they a professional business?
Always make sure you check that the photographer you are booking is a registered, professional business. Has an ABN and registered business name with ASIC (Australian Securities & Investments Commission). I mean you wouldn’t visit a doctors surgery that wasn’t registered, or didn’t have professional practitioners that were a member of the Medical Board of Australia right? Same rule applies when you are trusting your memories, wedding or newborn, with a photographer. Check, check and double check that they are a professional, qualified business with all the correct business practices in place. There are too many hobby photographers charging for low quality images, don’t get caught in the trap. Cheap is never good!
“You wouldn’t visit a Doctors surgery that wasn’t registered, or didn’t have professional practitioners”
Is this their specialty field?
Many photographers have a ‘specialty’, an area that they specialise in. Kind of like a Doctor… they become a GP and then they further study an area to make that their specialist field, like Paediatrics or Ear nose and throat. In saying that some still prefer to be a jack of all trades. Though if i was going to book someone, i would prefer the business that specialises in that field… has refined their skills, studied it further, knows what they are doing and they do it so well! I would not like to entrust my big wedding day with someone who, 99% of the time, shoots newborns. Same as i probably wouldn’t get a woman’s hair cut from a barber who mainly cuts Men’s hair. That is just my personal preference and each to their own. Though be mindful of this point, don’t have high expectations if you book someone who doesn’t shoot that style of photography all the time.
“If i was going to book someone, i would prefer the business that specialises in that field”
Too often is see members of the public post on Facebook “Looking for the cheapest and best photographer, any recommendations?”. Those two words ‘cheapest’ and ‘best’ just don’t go together. Nothing that is cheap is the best quality, no matter where you shop. It is just setting yourself up for disappointment and photographs, digital images…well photos in general are not a purchase that you can take back to the store for a refund if you don’t like it.
You have to do your research, make sure you like the photographers style, that you have a connection with their work. Build up a rapport with your photographer during the first initial email exchanges or phone them instead and have a chat. When clients message me for a price guide, i send them an information sheet as well, the information sheet explains what will happen during my sessions, what to bring, what to wear… but the opening paragraphs is a little about myself, building that connection with my client, advising them of my credentials, my past work achievements, courses i have attended. I want to gain that trust with clients before they book me, any professional business will want that for their clients. Make sure when you book your photographer, you feel special. It’s not all about your money with a professional, it’s the customer service and how the experience made you feel.
I hope this helps you with your search for your storyteller.