There is this misconception out there that all photographers are the same. That because we all have a camera, we can all take the same quality photographs, that we can all create the same technical images, and that we can all capture the same emotion and realism in our images.
Friends, that is like saying all doctors are the same because they all practice at hospitals with stethoscopes and all went to medical school. I don’t know about you, but if I have a heart attack, I hope the guy on call doesn’t specialize in plastic surgery (unless this is Grey’s Anatomy, and then I am willing to take my chances with McSteamy.) But in the real world, I want the doctor that fits me, understands me and is a match for what I need at that time. Your photographer is no different!
It is so important to pick a photographer who understands you, has something in common with you and understands what you need. As an elopement and family photographer, I turn away clients all the time who are looking for boudoir or newborn photography, because I just know I am not a good fit for that. I can refer you to some amazing ladies who are amazing at that kind of photography, but I know in my heart that it’s not me and that will show in my images.
If you are client looking for a photographer, whether it is wedding, family, senior, newborn, or anything else, I want you to ask yourself these 5 questions when searching for a photographer:
- Does something about their work tug at my heart strings in some way?
- Do I look at their work and clearly envision myself in it?
- Is this a photographer I can build a relationship with and use down the road for other important moments in my life?
- Do other people have good things to say about this photographer?
- What do I know about them as a person and does it align with who I am as a client?
Okay, let’s dissect these real quick.
- If their work doesn’t make you feel something inside, then will your OWN photos make you feel something inside? The last thing I want people to see in my work is that the photo is what I call a “check the box” photo. People just show up and take the photos because it’s obligatory. Because they are supposed to. No, I want people see the emotion and the realism and the connection between the people in my photos. Because that translates to classic beauty for decades to come. A photographer who can extract emotion (a smile, a giggle, a silly face) from your teenagers or grumpy old uncle, is worth finding.
- If you’re a client and you scroll through galleries from photographers, make sure you could fit into one of those galleries yourself. If you like to dress in bold colors, you probably won’t be a good fit for a photographer who usually shoots neutral colors. And expect the photos to reflect that. If you take your dog to photo shoots (raise all the hands here- call me now!!) then find a photographer who has photos of couples and families with their dogs!
- My clients come back for life. I have photographed seniors all the way to their wedding day, and couples getting married all the way through their family portraits. And every year it gets easier, simpler and more meaningful, because we all know each other. It makes the process better and more efficient, and there are no hidden surprises.
- Read the reviews. Ask for them! Read their Instagram comments, their blog comments, and their facebook comments! See what the real people are really saying!
- I tend to get clients who are similar to me. Mainly because my brand elements align with who I am as a person. Look for a photographer who clicks with you, who you find interesting personally. Don’t just pick a photographer out of a lineup and hope for the best. Find someone that you KNOW will like your kids; someone that you are positive will play with your puppy the entire time, or someone who has the personality and social skills to manage your 300+ guest list wedding. Your photographer will be with you for a few hours (especially during a wedding), so make sure it’s someone you are comfortable with and enjoy spending time with. Not sure how to determine this? Check out their Instagram, their facebook, etc. See how they interact with others and what their personal hobbies and interests are. And if those are things you are interested in also, reach out!
When I got engaged, I didn’t know what to do about photos. I didn’t really know what I wanted or how I wanted my photos to look. I stumbled upon my photographer’s Instagram page one day and she was funny, sweet and I liked her photos. I looked at one photo of a couple kissing on the beach in Malibu with the sunset behind them and I screenshotted it and said “I want this.” And she delivered. She was so sweet the entire time, helped with my outfit choice, made us totally comfortable and delivered my most treasured images to date. I am SO glad I did my research and went with my gut – to hire someone who met those 5 qualifications above.
I know that for a lot of people, photos come down to price. And I get that, I truly do. But it’s like anything else – you get what you pay for. If you want memories captured that you can share with your grandchildren in 40 years, then this is worth investing in. Your wedding photos are worth investing in. Having mementos and beautiful images for your family to treasure is worth the investment.
As a photographer, the best feeling is when my clients become friends. And as a client, I hope you feel the same way about your photographer.