Choosing a Portrait Photographer
Photographers are EVERYWHERE!!, the phrase 10 a penny seems to apply.
How do I choose the right one, surely they all just do the same thing?
Choosing a portrait photographer is a serious decision, a good portrait photographer is like a family Doctor, it should be someone you trust to take care of your family’s journey in images. You want your photographer to be a skilled creative that can capture your family’s personality and create individual pieces of artwork that are designed just for you. A professional photographer knows how to light you, how to position you, how to get those expressions that you recognise in your children. Your photographer should be able to quickly create a rapport with you and your family which will make for amazing images.
Sure, there are lots of people out there that can point a camera and take a picture but that doesn’t make them a photographer. With the invention of digital cameras there are more people claiming to be photographers in the marketplace and they will happily take your money in exchange for some digital files on a disk or usb. These people generally have another job during the week and are usually hobbyist’s looking to make an extra income at the weekend. So how do you choose a photographer?
As a photographer with over 23 years experience, below are the things I would advise you look at:
First and foremost if you don’t like the style of work they produce then they are probably not the photographer for you. A photographers portfolio is like their CV is shows what they are capable of and how they like to shoot. Photographers with a diverse portfolio will probably have been doing it for a long time and will have honed their skills and be able to create images that can be both modern and/or timeless pieces of artwork.
Of course some photographers may choose to shoot in just one style, this doesn’t make them bad photographers it just means that what you see will be what you get. Know what you want to achieve from your shoot and I don’t mean, 1 for Gran and 1 for each Auntie etc… know what you want to see on your walls. Photographers are not cheap, they are skilled artists and charge for their skills accordingly.
Don’t settle for the nearest photographer to where you live. I have had customers come to me from 30 or 40 miles away and from what I gather it’s because they like my style of photography. If you are serious about having a fantastic portrait created then go to the person that best fits your needs, it is best to travel that little bit further and get a service and style of portrait that you like rather than going to Joe Bloggs up the road just because its more convenient. The chances are the photographer will see how far you have travelled to use him/her and will appreciate that you have chosen to travel so far to have your portrait taken by them.
Ok, so price is always going to be a factor in choosing and it should be for many reasons. There are generally 2 different kinds of photographer, the one that sells ‘a la carte’ and the commissioned photographer. A La Carte refers to photographers that have a system where the client pays a session fee then has their images taken and when they come to view there’s a price guide for them to choose what size, product etc…
The commissioned photographer generally is an all in fee agreed with the client and will include whatever package of images is agreed with the fee. This is basically what Wedding Photographers have although some portrait photographers including myself also offer this service. The benefit of the ‘a la carte’ style is that you have paid a minimal upfront fee for the shoot and can then choose whether to purchase and you have a selection of products to choose from. The downside of this is that many people can get a little shocked by the prices as they aren’t expecting them to be expensive as they only paid a small fee for the shoot. This is very common but the thing to remember is that photographers are skilled artists, their work is always going to be expensive as a lot of time and effort is put into each individual portrait shoot.
As a one man band myself it takes me a minimum of 5 hours per client form consultation to collection which means I can maybe do a maximum of 6 or 7 customers per week. The benefit of the ‘Commissioned’ style of photographer is that you will sit down and go through exactly the kind of images you would like and the size, style of frame and so on before the actual day of the shoot and agree a fixed price or budget. Then when you come to viewing your images there is no need to go through price the viewing session becomes a design session just looking for the right images for the price you have already agreed on.
Basically when it comes down to price there are no cheap photographers. A photographer will charge based on their experience, service and product range and what they feel their work is worth. So if a photographer charges £2000 for a commissioned portrait shoot this is generally what they feel their work is worth. Equally with a photographer that charges very little this can indicate that either they don’t feel their work is worth a lot of money or they haven’t had the experience to feel they can charge that high or they aren’t really professional photographers and only do photography to add a little extra income at weekends.
Photographers may be 10 a penny but a good photographer can create something amazing for you. Do your research and make sure you are getting someone with experience and a portfolio that you like. Your portrait will be something that you can appreciate and treasure forever don’t settle for something because it was cheap or on offer.
If you would like to contact me further about booking a portrait shoot then you can contact Andy Whittaker Photography by clicking here.
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