“How do I choose a photographer for an event (birth, baby, engagement, wedding, etc)? How do I evaluate their portfolio, what should I look for, what questions do I ask? How do I match aesthetic?”

-Hannah, Seattle

 

At some point in your life you will probably be hiring a photographer for a headshot, a family portrait, or a wedding. Picking the right photographer is like choosing the right lawyer, you want the specialist who will deliver what you are looking for.

 

Here is my check list when I start to search the marketplace for the best fit for me:

 

Technical Proficiency – Look at this photographer’s portfolio. Are the images blurry or sharp, particularly the eyes and the head? Is each photo well lit, or does it look dull or muddy? Did they use good natural light? If there is flash, is the flash controlled and does it enhance the image, or is it super obvious? Is the image over processed, for example, the sky is too blue and the grass is too green?
Creativity – Do the images resonate with you or do you just not “get” the creativity of this photographer? Are there images that make you say “Wow, that is great!” or not. Notice your response to the images.
Ability To Work To A Deadline And Manage Time ­– This is most important for a single day event, like a wedding. To find out about this persons professionalism, ask to call a couple of their previous clients to see how that experience was. For weddings, this is very important as the ceremony is often not very long and if you miss the “moment” you can’t really have a redo.
Are They A People Person? ­ – Do you like working with this person? How will this person be under pressure? Again this is something that a simple reference check will reveal.
Appearance ­– I hate to say don’t judge a book by its cover, but a put-together photographer is often put-together in her office too, meaning that your images will be properly tagged, named, archived and stored.
Budget – You get what you pay for really applies with photographers. Be sure to ask how long they have been doing their craft. There are many folks who are now entering the profession with a great camera and little or no training. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t a professional, but you want to make sure they can handle the stress of the day and that your images will be professionally handled, stored and archived.

 

Key questions to ask your photographer:

 

  • How long do you store my images?
  • Do you include digital files, or are they included if I purchase prints (Many professional photographers include the selected digital files, but not all because professionals realize that 10 amazing photographs are way more powerful, than 300 mediocre photographs
  • How long have you been photographing? Do you have any degrees? Do you belong to any professional organizations?
  • How many weddings have you done?
  • Do you guarantee your work?
  • May I speak with some of your past clients to find out what it was like working with you?

 

 

Good luck with your search!