“What should I look for in a photographer?”

With the affordability of digital SLRs (for non-photo people, that’s code for “the kinds of cameras you can buy nice lenses for”), it seems like photography businesses are EVERYWHERE.  The other day I was talking to another mom in the park, and she asked what I did for a living.  When I mentioned that I had a photography business, she said, “Oh yeah, lots of my friends do photography, too.  I’ve been thinking about getting into that, myself.”  It’s become the trendy thing to do.

So, if you are in the market for a photographer, how in the world can you pick one when it seems like ALL of your friends are doing it?

Here are my personal criteria for choosing photographers:

1.  They have a legitimate business.  I hate to be a killjoy, but if they are accepting money for taking pictures, then they need to have all their ducks in a row.  I know it can be a drag, but you’ll both sleep better.  🙂

2.  You like their style.  Take a good look through their online portfolio, and be sure that you like what you see.  If the thought of star filters and selective color make you twitchy, then be sure that you choose someone who matches your style.  If you like more traditional poses, centered in front of a seamless background, then a “lifestyle photographer” may not be for you.  One benefit of the boom in photography businesses is that there is someone out there for everyone!

3.  They are easy to be around.  I’m going to come right out and say it:  unless you are a professional model, getting your picture taken requires a certain degree of vulnerability.  I don’t know about you, but I am always stressed to the teeth when I have to get my picture taken.  Think about how much easier the process is when your photographer is genuinely happy to be there.  Photo shoots CAN be fun, I promise!

4.  They know their stuff.  Lots of people these days seem to start photography businesses without ever taking their cameras off of Auto mode (or they use a point-and-shoot camera).  Trust me, you’ll be much happier with your pictures if you look for someone who is comfortable with their equipment.  How can you tell?  One giveaway is the amount of Photoshopping you see in their portfolios.  I’m not pooh-poohing Photoshop; almost every photographer uses it for a certain amount of post-processing and cleanup.  But when every other picture has digital “motion blur” or obvious filters/actions applied to it, I would begin to suspect that the photographer may be trying to cover something up.  Another thing to look for is consistently sharp focus on the eyes.

5.  Artistry is important.  This one kind of goes with Tip #2, but I’m going to say it again.  Anyone can line a bunch of people up and press the button, but good photography should be something more.  Do the pictures seem well-composed?  Do they capture real emotion, or do they seem like everyone has the same cheesy grin?

Bottom line:  you want to be sure you are happy with your pictures, to make them worth all the time and effort!

Happy hunting!

(Note:  the purpose of this post is not to say, “Choose me,” although obviously I would be thrilled if you did.  🙂  Choosing a photographer is a big deal, and I just wanted to put out some guidelines that might help somebody out there!)

(Note #2:  no offense is meant to people who do certain styles of photography.  Like I said above, there’s someone out there for everybody!)

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