When you’re looking for a photographer, it can be a bit confusing. On what do you base your choice?
Getting advice from friends and family is a good place to start.
Consider these things as well:
Ability to work on a deadline
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the best camera, lens and other photographic technology if you don’t know how to use it. Today’s photographic equipment comes with many features and options, often more than most photographers would ever require. Equipment alone doesn’t make a better photographer. The photographer has to know how to use the equipment.
Every photographer uses a computer to do post-production editing of their photos. It’s an essential part of every shooter’s job, but it’s easy to overdo the editing or worse, just to do it incorrectly. Most pros rarely do spot color editing nowadays, preferring to make an image interesting when they compose the photo instead of relying on editing after the photo has been taken. Other mistakes amateur photographers make is that super-saturated artificial color or the fake sepia color old-fashioned look. Filters cannot make a bad photo good. They will date your photos and will go out of style in a very short time.
It can be hard to get colors looking just right, but with the correct tools, it’s quite straightforward in all but the most demanding lighting conditions. The toughest lighting tends to be ‘mixed lighting’ – a combination of daylight, tungsten light bulbs and fluorescent strip lighting would be tricky to get right for the inexperienced shooter. A professional photographer will use professional lighting to make sure that she can control the color of the light on the model’s face even in the outdoors.
The bottom line is when you look at a portfolio of photos, it’s essential to check a range of photos shot in different locations and lighting conditions. Ask yourself if the photos look like the work of an expert, and compare the photos to many other photographers’ work.
A few things to look for when looking at photos of a photographer you are considering:
Are the images sharp or blurry? Sometimes the photographer can use a blurring technique to show movement of a dress for dramatic effect but the eyes must still be sharp no matter what.
Is each photo well lit? Is there good use of natural lighting? If flash is used, does it look obvious, or is it subtle, controlled and enhances the image? Indoors or out, the highlight on the model should not be “blown-out” or so bright that there is no detail. The shadows should also not be too dark that there is no detail.
Do the colors look right – does white look white, and does the face look overly orange or a natural pink? White balance is important whether you are in full sunlight or studio lights.
Does the photo look overly processed, or is it natural? Is that sky too blue or that grass way too green? All the colors should look natural the way you see them in real life, not overly saturated.
Does this photo look like an experienced professional created it? Or do you feel the picture looks a little bit odd? Sometimes a photo just doesn’t look quite right but we can’t always explain why. A professional might be able to see technical imperfections but even if you can’t, the photo will not feel right.
The photographic equipment used is essentially a tool to get the job done. In the hands of an experienced professional photographer who knows how to use their equipment in demanding situations, all of the above is second nature. They should be capable of instinctively creating your photos with little or no delay.
Analyze what you’re looking at by asking the questions above, and you’ll soon start to differentiate the good, the bad, and the ugly helping you to make an informed decision.
The creativity used to produce an image can be the difference between an average photo and an amazing photo.
Creativity comes with knowledge, experience and desire. Rarely does an exceptional photograph come from someone lacking in one of these three areas. Beware the experienced pro who’s been around for years but still creates photos that make you cringe. Truly creative people will learn new techniques, continually learning and seeking new ways to be creative.
Does the photographer show artistic flair over and above pure technical ability? Is the photographer directing the model or is the model moving on her own?
Ability to work on a deadline
This is an often overlooked or unconsidered detail when searching for a photographer, and it can be hard to tell how your shooter will operate. The key here is finding out how knowledgeable your photographer is and finding out if they ask the right questions to enable them to help ensure you get the photos you want. Your time is important too.
Is your photographer personable?
It would be reasonable to assume that a professional photographer is naturally good at dealing with and interacting with people. Most of the time professional shooters are lovely people. You meet a prospective photographer, they have an excellent portfolio of photos, and they come across as somewhat knowledgeable. Then, they are stressed and not in the best mood on your shoot day. A great photographer thrives on pressure. Don’t be afraid to arrive early or book a lunch with the photographer to get to know her.
Choosing a wedding photographer can be a tricky business. One final important thing to consider is your budget. It’s not a guarantee of comprehensive quality service. Still, certainly, you improve your chances of getting the supplier that ticks all the right boxes if you can budget more for your photographer. The cheaper you go, the more likely you end up with a part-timer who might let you down. The less you spend, the more likely they will use lower specification equipment to try and create your beautiful photos. The best in the business tend to be full-time professionals with lots of experience. They cost more because they invest in themselves – in training, equipment, promoting themselves, and only sourcing the best quality printing and albums.
Decide how much you can budget then shop around and see what you can source for your budget. Choose a range of photographers who tick the right boxes then ask for their prices. You might be surprised at how much or how little some of them charge. Ultimately it’s for you to use your judgment about whether they offer everything you want at a price you can afford. Using your good sense, personal taste and a few tips and advice you can get the professional you want and deserve for your photo session.