Everyone’s a Photographer Series (3/5)

In a world dominated by images and a market place saturated with “professional photographers”, it may seem like a daunting task to find and choose a photographer that’s right for you. This series of articles covers the current trends, and provides some tips to help you in the selection process.

Part 3

Top Questions to Ask before Hiring a Photographer

So, in a world filled with people who have cameras, and therefore by definition have the necessary tools to take a photo, how do you choose who to work with for your photoshoot?

Some of the questions below may seem obvious, but I am often surprised by the number of clients who do not have answers to these questions while searching for a photographer to hire.

I trust that these questions will narrow down the field of photographers who are right for you, and guide you in that decision making process.

  • What is your budget?
  • What are you expecting for that investment, and are they realistic?
  • How important are the images to you?
  • Does the photographer have the right stuff for your particular photoshoot?
What is your budget?

From the outset, your budget may determine whether you do it yourself, hire a student photographer, a serious hobbyist, or a professional photographer. Typically, we do not expect to purchase a Lamborghini, if our budget will only allow the purchase of a second hand Ford Fiesta. Also, we usually do not ask a major grocery store chain to discount our food bill because we are a start up business with tight cash flow. However in creative service fields, such as photography, clients sometimes have the expectation that they will get the Lamborghini with the discount.

By the same token, I do not necessarily believe in the saying – “you get what you paid for” – that the service/ product quality is always commensurate with the amount spent. There are many professional photographers offering very competitive rates; and there are many highly talented serious hobbyists that can, and are willing to do the work for a much lower fee. However, it is unreasonable to expect to hire a seasoned professional photographer at the same rate offered by a tourist on a working holiday looking for some extra cash before they move on. As outlined in the previous article, professional photographers are running a service-based business with overheads and operating expenses, and are typically in it for the long haul.

Whether it is critical for you to hire a professional photographer or not, is most likely determined by the next three questions.

What are you expecting to receive for that investment?

It is important to have some understanding about the photography process so you can set realistic expectations of what you may get for your investment. I encourage you to delve into other articles on my website to learn more about the technical aspects that influence the costs charged to clients for photography services.

If your budget is about the same as what you would spend on a dinner for two at your local Thai restaurant, you cannot expect the photographer to deliver images looking as though they have been plucked from the glossy pages of a Vogue magazine.

It is important to note that different photographers will include different levels of service in their quotes. When trying to decide between two or more photographers, it may feel as though you are trying to compare apples with oranges (… you probably are). When requesting a quote from a photographer, it is important that you clearly understand what is and what is not included in the service fees.

If the photographer has provided little explanation of what is included in their fee, go back and ask for more detail before accepting the quote. Do not assume that service fees will automatically include a certain number of images or a certain level of post production work if it is not detailed. Just because your previous photographer provided this service, does not mean that your new hire has those services included in their fees.

Seek clarification from the photographer on photography terms such as original images, edited images, retouched images as well as copyright and licensing arrangements. Read more about photography terms here.

How important are the images to you?

If you only need some feel good images to post on your personal social media and probably never look at again, then you don’t need a seasoned professional to do the job, particularly if there are cheaper options on the table.

If the images are going to capture once in a lifetime memories, or are intended to represent your business/ brand and help drive your livelihood, then you will want to work with a seasoned photographer – someone that has demonstrated experience in that genre of photography.

When selecting a photographer, ask for examples of their previous work which reflects their ability to meet your particular photoshoot requirements. Provide the potential photographer with brief description of your requirements and even some reference images or a mood board. An experienced photographer will be able to advise you on what can be achieved based on your budget, if their natural photography style and experience matches your requirements, and they will be able to give you options and explain how they have managed comparable assignments in the past.

Does the photographer have the right stuff to do the job?

Typically, a photographer may provide services in one or more genres of photography. In the next article you will discover how different types of photoshoots may need a different type of photographer. I will not discuss all genres of photography, but the selection will give you an idea of the types of things you may want to check out before hiring your photographer of choice.

Read More in the Everyone’s a Photographer Series.

Author: Dragon Papillon Photography

Sydney based photographer offering commercial product photography, visual content for websites and social media, portrait and event photography services.