Let’s face it, hiring a photographer can be stressful. You are trusting the person you hire to accurately portray your personality through the art of photography in a flattering and aesthetically pleasing way. That is a pretty tall order when you think about it. So picking the right one is really important.
Because you may not know what you need to ask, I’ve put together a few questions you should inquire of your photographer before your session. They may save you a BIG headache later.
1) Is what Im seeing some of your most recent work?
Find out if the work on their website/blog/Facebook page is up to date. You don’t want a to hire a photographer who was great 2 years ago and when they were really into it, but hasn’t done much recently. There are a lot of steps that go into taking each photograph, you want a photographer who is working through those steps frequently. Practice makes perfect, after all.
2) Will he/she be the one taking the photos at your shoot?
With small photography companies, this is not nearly as important, but for larger ones, make sure the person you are meeting with is the actual photographer and that the work you are viewing is theirs. Imagine how shocked you would be if on session day, someone walks up you have never seen before.
3) What is the refund/cancellation/reschedule policy?
In most contracts, photographers allow themselves the right to cancel or reschedule on you for various reasons… Unforeseeable acts of God, Illness, etc. but your valid reasons for cancellation are usually almost non-existent, so this is something you want to make sure everyone is clear on up front, especially if there is no contract.
Does the photographer offer refunds? What happens if the session is canceled by the photographer? How is that different if the client cancels it? Is there a time frame for reschedules? When you have had to reschedule your session because your child has the flu, the last thing you want to find out is that the photographer only takes reschedules within 5 days of the original session.
4) Will they accept a list of specific photos to be taken from you?
This is a big one. A picture is worth a thousand words right? So may people want to be able to show their photographer an example of a shot they love instead of trying to describe it. Finding out before you hire someone if they will allow this, and if they will be able to look at the images before your session, could make a big difference in the final pictures. Some photographers are strict about this, so if it’s something you want to be able to do, just ask. Better to find out early on.
5) Are they comfortable in providing direction, especially in shots with several people? In other words, are they willing to guide people into better, more flattering positions?
This is one I personally did not ask and had an issue with. I have a professionally photographed family shot that has a gap right in the middle big enough to edit the photo in two. If the photographer had just asked everyone to “squish in” it would have been perfect. You are relying on the person you hire to produce the most perfect shot possible… They may not be able to make a baby stop crying, or get your Uncle Ned to crack a smile, but they are dang sure responsible for getting people to stand in the right place.
6) How long after the session or event will the proofs be ready?
This can vary drastically, from a week or 2, to 6 months. If the photographer doesn’t offer up a time frame, be sure to ask. It is their job to set your expectations accordingly.
7) Does she ask you questions that illustrate her preparedness?
In a different blog post I’ll cover the questions the photographer should ask you, but in the meantime… A good photographer should have nearly as may questions for you as you have for them. If they don’t, it may be a sign that they are not totally prepared or that they are not completely stoked about your session. Either way, you may want to consider moving on. Having a photo session is exciting! You deserve someone who is just as excited as you are and who is dedicated to getting shots that will make you happy.
And finally and maybe most importantly, before making your finally selection, ask YOURSELF…
***Is it going to be easy for me to work with this person?
You would assume so since such a HUGE part of photography is customer service, but this may not neccessarily be the case. A couple of tips to help you determine if the photographer’s is a good fit for you:
- Have a face to face meeting with the photographer to discuss your session ideas. It is so much easier to see if you are a good fit in person rather than through email or even over the phone.
- Take into consideration things like response time to emails or phone calls. This may not be an issue for you, but I am an extreme type A personality, so when I send an email as a prospective client, I expect it to be answered within 24 hours, if it’s not, that’s a problem for me.
- Evaluate the Costs and be honest with yourself. I had someone once say to me “Well the session is only $50 but the prints are $35 each, so we’ll just pic our favorite two or three.” This is not realistic. Once you see that great photo of you and your fiance or the adorable smile of your children, you are going to want the photos. If the photographer doesn’t offer a package that works with your budget, ask for alternatives. If there aren’t any, you should probably keep looking.