Are you compatible with your photographer?
You read that right.
It's often overlooked in our industry that clients and photographers alike have what we call "ideal" matches. Almost like dating. If you chose to work with someone who doesn't have similar tastes, humor, and ethics you could end up with a sour taste in your mouth and phoning your best friend to complain about the let down.
That doesn't mean you can't hire anyone off the street and get GREAT photographs- but you're 10 times more likely to LOVE working with someone you "click" with. As much as I adore country chic', if I hired an interior designer who specialized in it I would find myself a stranger in my own home. It's cute. Adorable. Trendy. But not my personality or style.
So how do you know if you've found "the one"? Here's a few things to consider:
Have you checked out their website? This is very important folks. Usually a photographer will showcase their favorite photos- just because you've seen something they did for a cousin's friend you liked, doesn't mean they can replicate it or still shoot in that style. Look for consistency on their social media and website, and hopefully you'll be able to sense a clear style and pattern. If not, you might be playing Russian roulette.
Are you quiet, reserved, and a little modest? Probably not going to have a great shoot if your photographer is very animated and trying to crack jokes (although, as a professional they should be able to gauge a situation and behave accordingly). On the flip side, if you hang loose and are easy going, hiring someone who is tense and uncomfortable at your husband's fart jokes might be slightly awkward. Like style, your photographer's personality will probably show in their website.
Let's just put that out there. I firmly believe in paying for quality products for things that matter to me (electronics, mayo, toilet paper) but am OK with budget brand olive oil and trash bags. Everyone feels differently about the value of a product or service. If you're looking for frequent mini sessions, you may need to shop for affordable photographers who provide smaller packages to suit your needs. If you're like me, photographs are like GOLD and it's something you're willing to save up for and sacrifice a few hazelnut lattes. While higher prices don't always equal better photographs, you're likely to find someone who has more experience and uses high quality labs and products when you chose to invest with a more expensive photographer.
Do you want a full service photographer, or a quick in and out style session? I personally spend time getting to know each client, their family, and helping design wall art and albums to fit their homes. I'll hold your hand through each step, and I'm always just a phone call away. Investigate your photographer and see what type of services they offer, if they'll be available to you if a problem occurs, and their business policies like rescheduling. Also, make sure they're clear on what their prices include- no one likes to have a great session and later find out that everything costs waaaaay more than you budgeted for (or didn't- because you didn't know you needed to).
You probably wouldn't hire a wedding photographer to pose your 4 day new baby, right? Be sure you've looked through your photographer's portfolio and blog to see what types of sessions they shoot. Most professionals chose to focus on one or two main things- like weddings and engagements, newborns and maternity, families and children. Just because a photographer is great at one subject doesn't mean they'll rock another type of session, or necessarily offer it. I looooove looking at sweet posed newborns with adorable knit outfits on, but after mentoring with another photographer I realized it didn't make my heart sing. Instead, I offer lifestyle newborns that feature the family and home along with the snuggly little one. If you don't see a certain type of session featured, ask if the photographer offers it and for examples.
Do you have any funny stories of hiring a professional (photographer, hair stylist, nail tech, bikini waxer) that just was completely off the wall or gave you really weird service? I'd love to hear!