Most of my photo shoots come around through word of mouth. Someone mentions their own photos to a friend, and usually mentions the rates for a shoot. Very often, I get interested people based solely on my rates. Whenever that is the case, it is certain that a photo shoot never happens.
I will get an email where the only thing mentioned is how low my rates are, and that they want to make an appointment. They never mention any photos, and they usually have ideas that are nothing like what I do. I can tell when someone has not bothered to look at some of my photos. These people apparently fall off the earth and no-show the appointment.
Very few people are courteous enough to let me know it is not going to work out. It seems the price is right, but I was not.
That is fine. I would not want to be for everyone. This demonstrates to me that there is much more value in a photographer than how much he costs. It will take some work, but finding the right photographer for you will make the experience much better. And give you photos that you love.
I wanted to write a quick guide of what to consider when hiring a photographer for your personal photos. Now this comes from personal experience, so I am sure other photographers have different ideas and expectations. Since that is the case, the number one rule is – communicate with the photographer.
With the affordability of digital cameras, anybody can become a photographer. Becoming a good photographer is another story however. Take a quick look at Craigslist and you can find many pro and would-be photographers in your area. You most likely have a photographer in your family as well. Not just anyone is going to be the best photographer for you though.
Find a Photographer
Determine how much you are willing to spend. Despite just saying cost is not the most important factor, it will give you a guideline for the type of photographer you should look for. Will you be looking at pro photographers with years in the business, or an amateur just getting started? As you look over portfolios, focus on the photographers that create the kinds of photos you would want to be in. Do you want to be in a studio, or at a location?
Ask questions. You are the customer. I do not understand why people feel nervous about creative types like photographers, but do not be shy. Make sure to ask all the questions that you have. It helps to understand who your photographer is, how he works and what he expects of you. Ask about prints and copyright issues. Understand exactly what you are about to get.
Do not haggle for rate discounts. If you do not want to pay the rate he is asking, then move along. This is not a Turkish bazaar.
Share your ideas. This might depend on the photographer, but I personally enjoy when people are comfortable enough to throw out their own ideas. You know what you like, and you probably know what makes you look good and feel comfortable. It is worth a try.
Day of the shoot
Show up on time. Better yet, show up 15 minutes early. Take a few moments to relax and not feel rushed into snapping photos. Depending on the photographer and the situation, if you show up late you may just go home empty handed. It is not uncommon for a photographer to charge a deposit on the appointment. It is probably because he is tired of people being late or no showing.
If you are going to be late, let the photographer know. If your appointment is at 7 a.m., do not call at 7:15 and say you are going to be another 20 minutes late. That is just rude. Also, do not pull a no show. If you cannot or do not want to shoot anymore, have a little courtesy and make a phone call.
Do not try to sneak in anything you have not already talked about. The price you were quoted reflects the photo shoot you discussed. Do not wait until halfway through the shoot to try to sneak Aunt Mildred in. Be respectful of the photographer and his time.
After the shoot
Give credit to the photographer. If you do not give credit where it is due – at the least you can expect some bad karma, but at the worst expect some copyright infringement litigation. Together you can determine the photo rights, but most likely, your photographer will tell you how it is going to be.
If you love your photos and had a great experience, tell your friends. There are so many options available now. Do not feel like you have to settle on anything. Become an active participant in your photos. You do not have to be a professional model to create great images that fit your personality. You just have to think beyond the white shirt and blue jeans – and find the photographer that fits you.