First things first...Happy New Year from my family (pictured above) to yours! Happy 2021! Happy 'It's not 2020 anymore'! We made it and I'm truly looking forward to seeing what this new year brings. And while I know it's just a date on the calendar, I do love the idea of a fresh start on January 1st! It's time to jump in with both feet and get things rolling again! With a new year, you may find yourself with new photography needs. Sooooo, let's talk about finding the right photographer! (and no, it's not always going to be me!)
WHAT KIND OF PHOTOGRAPHY DO YOU NEED?
What kind of photos do you need? Is it time for new headshots? Does your company need a refresh with new branding photos for your marketing materials and website? Or did you just start a new company and need beautiful, professional images to communicate what you do? Do you have a Senior in high school and didn't quite squeeze in a Senior photo session yet? Have you been meaning to get new family photos done and just haven't been able to get a date on the calendar? There are so many different kinds of photography out there.
Most professional photographers generally focus on just a few areas of expertise. We learn what we really enjoy and what we excel at. For example, I gave newborn photography a few attempts and found it just wasn't my thing. Same with wedding photography. I had 5 wonderful wedding couples I worked with and then decided I'd be happy to leave that kind of photography to those who are truly passionate about it and do an incredible job. On the other hand, with my son being a theater actor, I took a liking to headshots and it's one of my main focuses now! I also really love people and emotion, so theater (in non-pandemic times), seniors, branding and family photography have all been a great fit for me. I also do a touch of Real Estate photography. But, if I get a request for drone shots, I refer those out!
I learned early on that it's best to focus on what I love the most and not be a jack of all trades. I'm lucky enough to have a handful of close photographer friends. We all refer various types of jobs to one another, if it's not in our wheelhouse. So, while it may sound counter-intuitive for someone running their own business, I do turn down jobs from time to time when I know I'm not the right fit. If you are looking for professional high quality photography, find someone who's focus is on the type of images you need.
One more factor that comes into play here is the photographer's style. When you see headshots, do you prefer a studio look or something a bit more environmental? For family photography, does a clean, bright image make you happy or are you drawn more to dark and moody or something more artsy and painting-like? Style is something a professional photographer will hone over time and it's important to look at their work before booking with them so you know what to expect with the final edits. I always want my potential clients to see my work before moving forward with me so there are no surprises with their final images.
WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
While it would be AWESOME to have unlimited funds to spend on photography, I know very few people where's that's the case. Everyone's budget will vary and that is absolutely a factor in choosing your photographer. It's both good and bad that there is no set standard for photography pricing. On one hand, it may make it harder for you to figure out what fair price is for what you need. But it also gives you a variety of options in your search to fit your budget. In looking for a quality photographer, you want to find one that is running a profitable, legal business. That means that the necessary licenses and business registrations have happened that are applicable for that photographer's city and state. It means paying taxes on what is earned and investing in education, insuring our equipment and our business, having contracts with our clients and a variety of other things. There will always be photographers out there who are brand new, just picked up a camera because they love it and only charge $50. In fact, many photographers started out that way. But we soon learn that if we want to keep doing what we are doing and help support our families with our chosen careers, we must be profitable. While we truly love what we do, it is still, in fact, a business and must be run accordingly. Sometimes you might find a gem in the making and if that's the case, chances are their prices won't stay low for long. You'll find photographers that charge $100 for everything and photographer's where the minimum spend is $1000 or more and many in-between. The experiences and quality will vary just as much.
This leads me to my next point...like so many other things, in general, pricing reflects quality and what your experience will be like. There is a third factor that may not have crossed your mind but is equally, if not more so, important than the first two.
THE EXPERIENCE/VIBING WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
When I share my next sentence with you, you might think, "well, of course that's the case." But I'd be willing to bet it didn't cross your mind when you started looking for a photographer.
**How you feel while the photographs are being taken will be inextricably intertwined with how you feel about the final image.**
You've already thought about what type of photography you need and how much you want to spend. But have you thought about how you vibe with the photographer? You need to find someone you connect with, someone who can put you at ease, especially if you don't love being in front of the camera! It is truly a gift when someone trusts me enough to show me who they really are. If you are nervous about getting headshots taken, a photographer who can relax you, make you laugh and forget that you are in front of the camera will produce the best results, all the way around. If you are looking for branding photography to kick off the new year with a fresh look for your business, you need someone who understands your vision and can communicate that through the photographs while having fun during the shoot. If you have small children and are getting family images taken, you need some who has patience and knows how to coax real smiles out of everyone. For seniors in high school, you need something who can put them at ease while creating images that reflect who they are and their personality.
**If you have a bad experience, no matter how amazing the images are, that's what you will always remember when you look at them.**
Research is so important for a quality investment. And that's what great photography is, an investment. There are many, many people who do what I do out there! I'm not unique in that I capture headshots and family photographs and senior photos and a few other types of images. What sets me apart is the experience you have during one of my photo sessions. I always tell my clients that I love what I do and have fun doing it, so it only makes sense that everyone else has fun too! It is 100% a team effort. My style and personality may not be for everyone and that's okay. What's important is that you find the right fit for you! And I'm thankful for my clients as I truly believe I end up with the people who are supposed to be in front of my lens.
What's on your docket for 2021? Let's chat and see if we are a good fit!