I’ve been a professional photographer for 15 years and if I’ve learned anything about the business in that time it is that as a client you have to be a thoughtful consumer. People don’t always realize how unregulated the industry is. There are a LOT of ways that photographers differ from each other. The advice I always give when you’re looking to hire a photographer is this:
#1: Do you like them as a person?
Meet a few photographers before hiring anyone. Any photographer should be willing to meet with you either in person or by phone before you commit to hiring them just like a contractor would be. (If they aren’t you might want to think twice about working with them because that shows they are not valuing the relationship and are more likely to think of you as a pay check.) Just like when you are choosing a pediatrician, or a pre school, when you hire a photographer you are hiring someone who will be intimately involved with your life. The only way to get beautiful, true images is to work with someone who you genuinely like and trust. True images only happen when you will feel comfortable being yourself around your photographer.
#2: Does their work make your heart happy?
Make sure you hire someone who has a lot of work out there for you to see whose style really resonates with you. If they have a body of work that you love, you will probably love your own pictures too. If they have a body of work that is scattered – you like some of their stuff and others not so much – you can’t guarantee that you will be happy.
#3: How much is this worth to you?
What are you willing to invest in getting the images that will bring you (and your kids) back to this moment? Are you willing to save up for the perfect experience? Are you willing to make payments? Or do you have other things that you have to prioritize and you’ll have to make compromises in one place or another? Of course we all have to manage a budget, and this may be a place where you make it a priority, or a place you are ok with making a compromise.
The Number One Mistake:
The biggest mistake I hear from people is that they hired someone because it was easy, their website looked good enough, and the price was right, and then regretting it down the road when the moment was past and the pictures weren’t what they had really wanted. Photographers all have different styles. At least, they should. If you are looking at a photographer’s website, and they don’t have a clear style, that is a sign that they have not found their voice yet. They don’t have confidence in their craft, and they probably aren’t going to be able to deliver what you want.
The Number One Question To Ask Yourself:
What conversations do you want to be having when your kids come home from college with a new boyfriend/girlfriend and you pull out the old family photos??
Here’s an important thing to keep in mind: The memories that are brought up when you look at these photos will be complex. The images themselves will trigger memory of what your child looked like and who they were, and of your relationship together, AND it will also trigger memory of what you felt like when those images were being captured. If you were uncomfortable during the session that discomfort will forever be tied to the images.
Free Consultations – Always
So with all that said, please be free to ask me more. I believe in what I’ve said, and therefore my consultations are always free. I want you to feel very confident that you want to work with me before you have to commit.
My prices are set up to encourage people to stay with it, so the first play date (session) is a bit more expensive than returning client prices. This is on purpose. I want you to commit to this relationship. The longer we work together, the more comfortable you will become, and the better the pictures will be.
I have priced my work exactly where I need it to make a living, so I include all the digital files in the cost of the playdate (there are usually over a hundred) as well as the finished storybook. I encourage my clients to purchase their own prints and give recommendations for the best places you can go to get high quality prints. I believe that it’s a waste of everyone’s time to place these simple orders together.
As you know, photographers are artists – and you are investing in art that will give you a portal back into this exact moment. You are also investing in giving life to a story that you will be sharing with your child(ren) for the rest of their lives. When you tell them how much you loved them, or how strong they were, or how tiny your first house was, or about the dog they grew up with, they hear your words… But when you show them the pictures, and read words you wrote in that moment, they truly get it – and they love those stories. They love them next year, and they love them in a different way the year after… I see it over and over again. And I experience it first hand with my own childhood photos.
This is powerful stuff!
I would love to meet up and talk about your hopes and dreams — Meet your partner in crime, and little(s), and hear your love story. I hope you will give me the chance to get to know you. I will bring some samples, talk about what it’s like to do a playdate with me, answer all of your questions and calm your anxieties, and you can get a feel for what it is like to work with me.
Good luck, and may you find exactly what you’re looking for!