It may come as a surprise, however I am not the right photographer for everyone. Yes it’s true. It’s inevitable that not all photographers meet the needs or style of each of their clients. As much as, over the last 20 years, I have spent adapting my styles to the whims of art directors and clients, sometimes, it just doesn’t work. This is a reminder that not everyone who drinks a soda drinks Coke, some people insist on Pepsi. With that said, sometimes as consumers we get caught up in the rat race of everyday life and forget that researching, doing our own due diligence to appease our own needs is absolutely the most important part of being a subject to a professional's artwork. In this series, we are going to look at 5 key components that should help in your decision process when deciding on a photographer.
With the digital age upon us, there has been a huge influx of people jumping into the photography game. Which is great, photography is one of the few frontiers where competition is encouraged. However, how does this benefit you? Experience is key in selecting a photographer. Asking appropriate questions such as, how long have you been taking pictures, do you shoot in RAW format, what is your process when deciding on location, look, feel, emotion, etc? Many newer photographers will be quick to take hundreds of images and gladly give them away at a basement bargain price, which in this medium, you get what you pay for. When I first began in this, you had to start as an apprentice. I raked leaves, power washed siding and doors, clean camera lenses, and dusted props for a year and half. But it taught me something; the appreciation of the craft. The appreciation of the tools, and necessities of making an emotional image. It wasn’t until year two that I photographed my first subject, and even then it was a shipwreck! I had a lot to learn.
As a professional of two decades, I watched as we have replaced quality with quantity. More images to sacrifice quality. When I started, we had 20 images we could take with a 220 roll of film and our Mamiya RZ67 or 24 if we used our Hasselblad CM500. That was it! We had to make the images count. To this day, I still find that photographers that place quality over quantity are your elite image makers. These are the artists that care about what they deliver to their clients. Is it worth the extra money to commission a photographer that will get you 10 poses that are impactful to your vision or is the extra money that you saved worth having to sift through a trove of images to find a single diamond in the rough? This photographer believes in the former.
Now, it’s not to say that some rising student of the art isn’t worth giving a shot. We all have to learn somehow. However, what we need to remember is that these are images that we are going to display in our homes, social media and share with our child and hopefully children’s children. These are images that we want to stand the test of time. With that said, and I will come back to this in a later segment; I would reserve mini sessions and inexpensive/inexperienced for holiday cards and photo album images. Reserve the full experience for the images you want to proudly display in your home, at grandma’s home, and even give as announcements for big events, such as engagement announcements, and graduations. If you’re looking for perfect images, you’re not going to find it in a 15-20 minute session. To conclude this week’s segment, as the New Year is dawning upon us, I encourage everyone that’s looking into having any sort of portrait session done, interview multiple photographers, discuss your vision with each of them, discuss your end goals and decide on who is the best fit for bringing your vision to life. The more comfortable you are with the artist, the better the images will look.