- Part 1 : Current Trends in the Market Place
- Part 2 : Key Criteria for Professional Photographers
- Part 3 : Top Questions to Ask before Hiring a Photographer
- Part 4 : The Right Stuff – Best Photographers by Genre
- Part 5 : Summary – Making the Choice
The Right Stuff – Best Photographers by Genre
To be a photographer, all you have to do is know how to use the camera and take a picture, right? And a professional photographer, can photograph anything, that’s why they are a professional, right?
Photographers for hire typically work in one or more genres of photography, depending on their personal preferences, style and access to specialist equipment. Selecting the photographer that is best for you, depends on the nature of the photography assignment, and finding a photographer with the right stuff. The right stuff is more than just the equipment the have and use.
In this article we will explore 6 different genres of photography and the different requirements that each of these genres have, in order to find a photographer with the right stuff.
- Portrait Photographer
- Event Photographer
- Product Photographer
- Wedding Photographer
- Real Estate Photographer
- Newborn Photographer
The composition for a corporate headshot is fairly standard. The criteria that differentiates portrait photographers is not based on image composition, but how the photographer relates to you during an intimate and confronting time – having your portrait professionally taken.
It is likely that you have not had face-to-face interaction with your portrait photographer before hiring them. Therefore, my best tip on choosing a portrait photographer is to request to see examples of their past work. By looking at these strangers’ faces you will be able to quickly discern if the person looks as though they are engaging with the photographer during their photohoot. Do they look relaxed?, is their expression natural?, does the smile match the expression in their eyes?
Or do the photos look forced like many of our old school photos look with a fake smile at best? Do the portraits look over photoshopped and artificial? This may be your personal preference, but not all photographer’s offer a “glamour shoot” service.
Before hiring your portrait photographer of choice, check off these questions :
- Have they explained the process and given you some tips on what to bring for the photoshoot?
- Have they listed to your concerns, and given you an opportunity to express your anxiety about the shoot?
- Do they have their own studio space and/ do they have equipment they can bring onsite for a professional looking outcome such as portable backdrops and lighting?
Event photography is action packed, requiring a highly intuitive photographer to anticipate memorable moments in a fluid and dynamic situation. Photographers shoot best in their natural style – some photographers have a preference for candid over posed images, others are comfortable with shoot red carpet style.
As the client, your preference for candid or posed will determine the photographer you want to hire for your event. Review the photographer’s gallery to see if you like their photography style.
Regardless of photographic style, the right photographer for events will:
- have experience shooting in low light situations and at least an on-camera flash. Most indoor cameras will require a flash.
- are responsive, personable but also discreet without getting in the way of your event’s proceedings.
- read more about what it takes to be an event photographer here.
Before hiring your event photographer, check off these items :
- Have they asked for information about the event, the planned key moment (e.g. speeches), the VIPs, any special requirements you have for group shots etc.
- Do they have a reasonable quick turn around time to deliver a high volume number of images. There is nothing more annoying than receiving photos from your event, months or weeks after the special day.
- How will you receive the images? Are they able to deliver images in a gallery that you can easily share with event attendees.
- Have they been responsive before the event, so you have confidence that they will turn up on the day, and on time?
Product photography is a broad genre, and within this field there may be additional requirements depending on the product that is being shot. Most the work for commercial product photography happens outside of the scheduled photoshoot time, in planning the photoshoot and secondly in the post production of the images.
A versatile product photographer does need specialist equipment such as a variety of lenses, studio lighting, and may have a collection of backdrops and props to match your requirements. In addition, most of the work for commercial Therefore it is important to understand how the photographer manages both the pre-photoshoot and the post-production processes.
In addition to the specialty equipment, a product photographer needs to be organised, methodical, have an eye for detail, and be able to translate your concept into images. If you find a product photographer that also has a creative eye, you have found a winner.
Again, the best advice is to review the photographer’s portfolio of product images and see if they have experience in shooting products that are similar to your products – you may need to find a specialist to shoot glass, jewellery, or ghosted mannequin images as all these products require access to different equipment and lighting setups.
Here’s some tips and questions to have answered before signing on with your product photographer.
- Has the photographer understood your image requirements and conceptual brief as to how you want your products presented?
- Does the photographer have a dedicated studio space and/ or do they have the necessary equipment to bring to photograph products at your location?
- If shooting at your location, has the photographer explained their space requirements to set up for a product shoot outside of a studio, and how images may be compromised if not photographed in a controlled environment?
- What level of post production is included in their service fees? Are the images supplied as shot (original); edited or retouched? Are the images deep etched for e-commerce shots.
- Have you agreed a turn around time for the images to meet your business requirements?
- What will be the process or recourse if the images do not meet a quality standard?
In the first instance, when considering the right stuff for a wedding photographer, supercharge the event photographer criteria tenfold and then add some extras. Wedding photography is probably one of the toughest gigs in photography (outside of being a photojournalist in a war zone).
The wedding photography business is changing though. According to Your Perfect Wedding Photographer, weddings are become less formal and clients more cost conscious, giving rise to documentary and candid styled photography. However, for most couples choosing a wedding photographer to entrust your big day with can be a daunting prospect. As in life, you may need to “date a few” before making the final decision to “I do”.
When choosing a wedding photographer, you will want to select a person that you feel comfortable with, someone who is great with people and able to give direction without stealing the show, a great wedding photographer has the ability to herd cats, and is able to handle stressful situations with poise.
Here are some things to consider in your final selection of a wedding photographer :
- First and foremost review the galleries of a number of photographers. Most wedding photographers have a distinctive brand – a particular artistic style and interpretation of the iconic wedding shots. Are there particular styles that you like more than others?
- Do they offer consultations before the wedding, have a plan for the day, and what processes are in place to review your images after the wedding?
- Who else is on the photographer’s team e.g. is there a second shooter, videographer, post production retouching team?
- How long will it take them to return the retouched images to you? Expect a longer lead time than you would for most photoshoots.
For some more great tips read this article.
Real Estate Photographer
Real estate and architectural photographer is a specialised area of photography, requiring specialist equipment and sound technical expertise.
At the very least, a real estate photographer must have some special equipment – a wide angle lens to be able to photograph in tight spaces, a solid tripod, and access to flashes or other lighting. Real Estate photographers typically composite final images from a series of images photographed under different exposures. This process then requires experienced post production work to pull those original shots into a cohesive single image. Check out this gallery for some beautiful examples of architectural and real estate photography and some tip on how to prepare your property for a real estate photographer.
Like product photography, real estate photography depends more on technical understanding rather than interpersonal skills. They will have a high attention to detail.
Here are some tips for choosing a photographer to photograph one of your most major investments :
- Review examples of their work. Are the images enticing and invite you to explore the house or enter the room?
- Do the vertical lines in the images appear straight?
- Do they have a solid post production workflow and HDR processing software, to composite the images photographed onsite and to make the final image pop.
Photographing newborns is a delicate and precious art form, and for the more stylised newborn portraits that are popular today, the photographer will have a collection of interesting props and backdrops available.
Interpersonal skills, patience and flexibility are probably some of the most important traits in a newborn photographer’s arsenal. When choosing a newborn photographer, trust your parental instincts. Do interactions with the photographer before the photoshoot make you feel comfortable, or do you have concerns that are not being addressed?
Here are some of the things you may want to check before choosing your newborn photographer :
- Review their gallery to see if you like their distinctive style in photographing babies. Here are some inspiring images by a newborn photographer whose work and approach to working with babies, I respect.
- Confirm that the photographer a has a Working With Children Check. Do they have any other accreditations that confirm they have experience in working with babies or young children?
- Ask about the safety measures they follow when photographing babies. What else do they do for you and your baby’s comfort.
- Get a good understanding of their knowledge in posing babies – it is a skill.
- Babies often get sick at the most inappropriate times, so it is worthwhile to know what are the penalties or options if this happens for your photoshoot.
Finding the photographer that is right for you depends on a whole range of factors. For each genre of photography, there is a different mix of interpersonal skills, access to equipment and work processes required to find the photographer with the right stuff for your particular photoshoot. Your final selection is then influenced by your budget and preference for a particular creative style of photography. In the final article in this series, “Everyone’s a Photographer” we will summarise a checklist to get you started in hiring the right photographer for your requirements.