This is just a bit of information on what to look for if you are planning to hire a professional photographer. In other words, if you are paying professional prices and need quality images, these tips can be helpful.
With the advent of smarter, more feature-rich cameras at prices accessible to the average consumer, it can be hard to find the right photographer. Though these new, high-tech cameras have the functionality to capture images at larger resolutions, with lots of nifty in-camera extras, it never was (and never will be) the camera that creates an interesting and quality photograph. The person operating the equipment is what matters, and their level of expertise with the art of photography, and also with the subject they are photographing, will determine whether or not you are getting what you’re paying for. There are a few key questions that it is good to have the answers to before signing any contract; make sure you get that first in-person consultation to not only view the prices and packages available, but also to conduct a sort of interview to make sure you’re hiring who you want to hire. Here are a few suggestions and some notes on why these are important inquiries to make.
1. Do you just shoot in automatic mode?
This is a big one. There are a lot of people out there who purchase a snazzy camera and assume that just because they’ve purchased a medium to high-end quality piece of equipment, the camera will do all the work for them. This is not true. Automatic mode on any camera is almost never ideal. In fact, a true professional will pretty much never utilize that function. The reason put simply is this: auto mode on any camera averages everything – meaning the exposure is averaged over the whole scene, even if the subject is only a small part of the scene. This can result is bad, muddy exposures (and often does). Auto mode also gives you no control over your shutter speeds, which can result in blurry images. Especially when shooting animal subjects that move around a lot, this can be a huge issue.
Make sure the person you’re hiring understands his or her own equipment.
2. How did you get into photography? Do you have any professional training?
Knowing the roots and origin of a person’s interest and knowledge in what they do is important. If you come across a potential hire that says something along the lines of “Well, my <insert family member/friend> bought me a camera for Christmas one year, and I thought it was a lot of fun and decided to start a business” – or some variation thereof – a little red flag should go up. Not to say that all professional photographers should have attended formal schooling in photography to learn their trade (though it is a bonus), but the person you are interviewing should have years of experience and an obvious knowledge of the way photography works. Even students who have just graduated with a degree in photography usually have to start out at non-professional prices to get going, because they simply don’t have the portfolio and experience to support full cost yet.
Make sure that, if you are paying for a professional with experience and knowledge, that you are actually getting a professional with experience and knowledge.
3. Are you capable of professional editing?
The editing process is a very important step in professional photography. It is a huge part of a specific photographer’s look and style. With the huge reliance on digital photo work now, make sure that your photographer is knowledgable in digital processes and programs. It is also good to ask if all professional editing is included in the cost of the package you plan to purchase. Some photographers charge extra for editing, so make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for.
4. Do you have a professionally maintained website?
Often it’s a good idea to check this out before meeting with a photographer, but if you are simply making phone calls or scheduling meetings and looking up websites later, make sure to get this information. A photographer’s website is their portfolio. This should be something they have clearly spent lots of time and energy on. This is where a photographer showcases their work. If a photographer is enthusiastic and dedicated to what they do, their website should reflect that.
5. Do you have any experience shooting the type of subject/event I am booking?
This question sometimes gets overlooked. Most professional photographers out there are going to be experts on one or two subjects (i.e. weddings and pets). It is very difficult to be an expert on everything; a photographer who tries to focus their energy in too many different areas never has the time to really hone his or her skills to get really, really good at what they do. Not to say that it is always a bad idea to hire a photographer who usually focuses on weddings to shoot your newborn portraits, but it’s usually best to stick with someone who has most of his or her experience in areas directly related to what you want done. There a lot of well-rounded photographers out there, but chances are, if they are focusing their advertising and marketing on pet photography, for example, then that’s probably what they most enjoy doing and are best at.
Nadia Joyce Aikins is a professional photographer based out of Eugene, OR. She specializes in animal portraiture and wedding photography. You can see more of her work at the link below.
Pets and Animals – Nadia Joyce Photography | Washington, Oregon, & Beyond | Wedding and Pet Phot
Studio and Candid shots of best friends