10 Important Points To Look For When Choosing A Photographer

You could hire the first photographer who pops up on a web search, or Uncle Joe, but there’s more to it than that.  You want a photographer who will make you and your business look great, be easy to work with, who guarantees you’ll be delighted with their photography, and in short makes the entire experience enjoyable.

Here are 10 important questions to ask, in no particular order, when choosing a photographer:

1. What does their website say about them?
A great photographer’s website makes it easy for you to find the information you need and want.  Is the website welcoming? Is it clean, functional, and easy to navigate? Does it showcase the photography they do? Can you browse portfolios of images at your own pace? Can you find the information you want about the photographer, including where they’re located and how to call, e-mail, or visit with them? Do they make it easy to get in touch with them or do you have to hunt for their contact information?
2. Does the photographer guarantee their work?
A guarantee means the photographer places your satisfaction first.  The photographer’s guarantee says they stand behind their work. It removes risk from you and places it firmly with them if for some reason the photography doesn’t work out as you expected. The guarantee removes risk, but professionalism gets the job done right the first time. You don’t have time to waste.
3. Does the photographer have a studio?
A studio enables a photographer to meet your needs any day of the week, in any weather, without depending on the availability of outside locations.
Operating a studio is a serious commitment, whether it’s in a storefront location or at their home. Having one means the photographer is serious about their business and not just a part-timer who has a day job and a camera. A studio usually means that the photographer knows how to use professional lighting techniques to flatter and enhance your appearance. A studio photographer will have a selection of backgrounds available to coordinate with your clothing choices or the color scheme of your branding when you come in for a portrait session.
4. Has the photographer invested in professional equipment?
Professional photo gear is durable, dependable, and reliable. That saves you time and gives you peace of mind. There’s less chance that something will break during your session.
Do they have the lenses, lights, and light modifiers needed to do their job efficiently and to deliver top-quality results? Do they have backup equipment? When something does break you want your session to continue nearly uninterrupted. Do they have professional software tools to edit and retouch your photographs? Amateur tools may mean amateur results and you’re paying for professional results you can count on.
5. Does the photographer want to meet with you in advance to discuss your photo session?
A professional will work with you to plan your photography, to learn your needs and expectations so there are no surprises when it’s time for your session.
Will the photographer come to your office or other location to meet, particularly when the photography is to be completed on location? Does the photographer talk with you about how the photography will ultimately be used, how people appearing in the photos should dress, and whether there is a particular time of day most appropriate to photograph at a particular location? In short, does the photographer help you plan for the most successful photo session possible? Expect this level of service for anything more complicated than a business headshot.
6. What do previous clients say about the photographer?
Testimonials on the photographer’s website and print materials assure you that he or she has lived up to previous clients’ expectations.
7. Does the photographer’s personality connect with you?
Someone who is on the same wavelength as you will help you feel more relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.
When you meet with the photographer for your consultation, how would you describe their personality? Are they friendly, courteous, respectful, and collaborative? Does the photographer put you at ease so you know you’ll feel comfortable in front of the camera?
8. How much experience does the photographer have?
     Hiring an experienced photograph assures you that they will be able to deliver what they promise, when they promise.
How long has the photographer been in business? Has he or she done the kind of photography you are going to hire them to do for you? Can they show you samples? Who are their previous customers?
9. Is the photographer also a businessperson?  
     A photo businessperson understands the needs of other businesses. You can feel confident dealing with someone who carries out their business professionally.
Does the photographer have a business license? Do they provide a written estimate describing the services they will provide you and how much it will cost? Does he or she make it easy to do business with them? Do they accept multiple forms of payment, including credit cards? Is it clear what you will receive in return for your investment? Are expectations clear?
10. What do you get when photography is complete?
Expect edited, retouched, ready to print files for business photography and ready to display portraits from your photographer. You don’t want to waste your time editing, retouching, printing, and mounting.
Business photography is almost always delivered as a set of reproduction-ready digital files prepared from just a few images edited from the entire session. You should expect much more from your photographer than just a disk containing all the raw images from your session. If that’s all you’re getting then look further. Otherwise you have to do all the editing and retouching yourself. Your photographer should take pride in their work and refuse to let unfinished work out the door.

And one more bonus question:

11. Does the photographer include finishing touches to their work?
Finished photography always looks better than what comes straight from the camera.  Finishing touches include facial retouching to take care of skin imperfections, contrast and brightness adjustments to enhance appearance, and sometimes a high level of digital artwork to create something far beyond what the camera saw. The photographer’s attention to detail includes achieving proper color balance throughout a color-managed workflow so prints look great and digital files reproduce properly online and coming off a press.Bottom Line … You can certainly ask your Uncle Joe to shoot some pictures for your business with her digital camera. He might even get lucky and shoot a decent image ot two. But your business and the important impression it makes is at stake. If the photographs are important enough to include in your marketing materials they’re important enough to hire a professional photographer.

Choose wisely.

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