Choosing A Photographer – what you need to consider
You have decided that you want some professional headshots or portraits taken (or thinking about it at least). But there are thousands of photographers to consider. How do you find the right one?
There are many things to consider:
* The Photographer and the experience
* What is included
* Your end result
* The final investment
Photography is more than just price:
Many people make decisions based of price. Having and working to a budget is an understandable and important aspect of decision making. When it comes to photography, and many other creative disciplines, there is a vast varyiance of pricing to consider.
There are many creatives who will work for free, or for very little, thinking that ‘exposure’ is the same as payments (it’s not when there are bills to pay. I mean, I have tried telling my electricity supplier that I’ll tell all my friends, family and guests about them, but they still won’t accept my offer of exposure as payment for my electricity usage).
So with the influx of on-demand photographers, amateurs and hobbyists with cameras, varying to high-end professionals, a headshot can cost you from anything like $50 to $1000.
So why would anyone pay $1000 for a headshot, when there are people offering headshots for $50? Quality, vision, direction, and high-end results.
Remember, you are paying for more than just photographs. Photography isn’t just pressing a button. It is a skill set of camera operation, lighting, composition, direction, and editing, to bring a final result together. Furthermore, you are not just receiving a photograph – you are having an experience.
Start to think about the end result you want. Your first job is to check the photographer’s folio. If you don’t like their folio, you probably won’t be happy with your final results. If you do like their folio, ask them for references or read their reviews. It is really important to make sure you will be happy with the result of the image and the experience itself. Don’t be afraid of giving them a call or email to ask them questions. Some things to consider are:
* What is included in your package?
* What level of retouching should I expect in the final images?
* Where will my photograph be taken, and what options do I have (studio, outdoors, on location, at my workplace)?
* How many outfit changes can I have, and is there a limit?
* How long does the photography session run for, and what if we don’t get the shot?
* What extras do you offer, and what is the fee (if any)?
* Will you direct and coach me during the session, and what experience do you have with this?
* How many final images will I receive?
* Are you flexible with date or time changes, if my outdoor session is impacted by weather?
* What is your turnaround time for my final images?
You have the right to fully understand what the photographer is offering. I believe photography is more about the portfolio. It is really important to have a great portfolio, but the experience in getting to that result is important too. A photographer might be award-winning, well known, an industry professional – but if you don’t click or feel uncomfortable the entire time, was the experience worth it?
Find someone who you can connect with:
Having a portrait session with someone who you can hold a conversation with, ask questions openly, and have a laugh with goes a long way. It creates authentic results in the final images.
If you book a photographer that you know nothing about, you risk the chance that you’ll hate the experience. Working with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, self conscious is going to impact how you feel about the final photos – even if they’re amazing to everyone else, you’re going to feel uneasy about them, as they will remind you of your uncomfortable experience.
I make a big effort to get to know my clients before my session. On my website I am very open about who I am too. I have lots of information about me, my personal projects, and my studio, all on my articles page, and my about page (you can just select the ‘Julia Nance’ tab on my tips and articles page to find those!). To me, it is important for my clients to get to know me a little too. It means we become a little bit less like strangers when we meet.
If you find someone you can connect with and feel comfortable with, you will feel so much better about your investment. It will be less about getting photos of you, and more about the experience.
Make sure they provide what you need:
Your friend bought the latest iphone with a ‘portrait mode’ on it? Great!
You need that shot printed in high resolution for your marketing material? Well, it might not work.
It goes the same for any photographer. Have a chat to those on your shortlist. Once you have narrowed down the folios you like, make sure they can achieve what you’re after. If you find a photographer taking beautiful outdoor images, but you want one or two in the studio, check with them first! You don’t want to miss out on the studio shots you want, if they don’t offer that service.
It goes for images too. Check what sort of final shots you will be receiving. Are they all high resolution? Do they provide them in web sizes too? Do you need any banners for social media? Can they resize and crop them for specific needs?
Check with the photographer in regards to retouching too. Make sure you’re happy with the level and quality of their retouching. Do they retouch the images at all, or just crop and tweak the contrast? It is also a great idea to check the retouching on their folio. Make sure skin has texture and is not blurred. I’ve written about how I retouch my images, as it is an important step in my work.
I believe retouching can be done in a way to bring out ‘your best self’. It doesn’t mean creating an unrealistic expectation. I’m not going to completely de-age someone (as much as they might want it!). Retouching is a way to show a portrait how you see that person. A camera picks up a lot more detail than the human eye, and high megapixels mean that this detail is sharp! My process is to simply polish the images up.
Make sure you will get the professional results you need:
If you haven’t seen a portfolio, how do you know what results you will be getting?
There are a few ‘on-demand’ photography sites, where you make your booking, and they’ll send a photographer. They say they screen them to make sure they are great photographers, and this might be true. They might all be fantastic photographers – but how do you know that their style is going to work for what you need?
Check their folio, contact their clients, view all their social media and check what they have been tagged in. If you like what you see, feel the result is professional, and think it will fit in with your style, you might be onto a winner.
Your headshot session needs to be a good investment. There are huge benefits to hiring a professional, and hiring someone who specialises in headshots and/or portraiture. You can base your decision off price, or you can base it off a folio alone, you can go with a photographer who is a friend of a friend – but there is more to picking a photographer.
Photography is an investment in your personal brand, your marketing, your design and image. To get the most out of your investment start to consider the following things:
* To start, make sure you like the photographers folio, and make sure you can actually see their folio.
* Ensure they provide the service you need, and can achieve the results you are after.
* Be confident that your final images will be of high quality and professional.
* Learn about the photographer to see if you’re compatible and will get along (give them a call if you need!).
* Think about the value of your final photographs: how they will be perceived by your ideal clients, how they will impact your business, and the various avenues you can use your images.
* Compare your dollar investment with your time investment. Make sure the time you spend on your headshots is worth it. Does the cheaper photographer get you the results that make your time worthwhile?