Advice Column, Parenting

So many photographers…. How to choose one?

  • BLM Photography
  • Category Advice Column, Parenting

There he was, a kid with a budget to spend in a toyshop.  Turns out it wasn’t just torture for me.  It was for him too.

(Side note: I swear they should put a coffee lounge area in these shops to help parents stay sane for the eons that it takes their kids to decide what to buy. Honestly. Have you ever walked in to the toyshop and your children immediately chose something that is useful or at least suitable and that’s within budget? It never happens!)

What could be better? Toyshop.  Money.  Lots to choose from.  Only he was just standing there crying.  Crying because he, “Just couldn’t decide what to get.”

Having choice is a wonderful thing. In a lot of ways it’s a symbol of freedom. Too much choice though is tough, really tough.  Sometimes just so tough that no selection is ever made.

So when someone on Facebook is looking for a photographer and I add my web details to an already very long list of replies I actually feel kind of bad.

Not in the ‘I can’t compete with these photographers’ kind of way bad.  I am confident in the service and product that I offer.  I feel bad because I know how hard it must be to choose between all of these people offering to make my baby/my family and even me “look amazing” and “capture my memories for eternity”.

It must be a little intimidating, to say the least, going through such a long list of potential suppliers all hoping to get your business.  They all have websites, Facebook pages and Instagram feeds that show lovely photographs and promise to meet your every need.

Choosing who to trust with your memories (and your hard earned cash) can be a difficult decision.

So here are some tips to help you choose the photographer that’s right for you and the project you have in mind.  Assuming of course that you’ve already discarded the ones who don’t appear to be competent at all.

Is what they’re offering what you really want?Sounds simple enough.  I want beautiful photos and that’s what they do.  Right?  Not exactly.

There are many different categories and styles of photography.  Given the same brief (and even the same location and subject/s) each photographer’s photos will look different.  There are journalistic style photographers and those who offer a more posed style.  There are lifestyle photographers who photograph you in a natural way in your home environment or outdoors on location and there are photographers who work only in Studio.  Some photographers may prefer to use natural light only and others are comfortable using flashes and strobes.  And then there are those who’s editing and shooting style is romantic and soft or contrasty and dramatic or grungy and textured.

I’m sure you’re getting the picture.  It’s really important that you like the style of the photographer that you choose and that it suits your project.  You wouldn’t for example choose someone who only shoots in studio with flashes to take photographs of your birth story in low light with no flashes.  Style matters.

Can I be myself around this person?And will my family or partner or whomever is going to be part of the session open up to them?

I’m sure you’ve met people before whom you just feel uncomfortable around or who rub you up the wrong way.  Someone like this isn’t going to get the best out of you and it’s going to show in your photographs.  I’ve heard many stories of wedding photographs that just don’t live up to expectations.  The photographer has a stunning portfolio and it’s exactly what style you would like for your photos but they just don’t look the same.   It may have been that you and the photographer just didn’t “click”.  It’s a very collaborative process and you need to inspire the best out of each other.

Bear in mind also that your photo shoot (and all of the before and after service of course) is an experience.  In fact if the experience is not great you may not like your photos at all even if they are gorgeous.  Choose someone who makes you feel comfortable and the rest will follow.

Safety.  Naturally you would be hard pressed to let a photographer put you in an unsafe environment and I’m sure that you’ve taken steps to make sure that the security risks of shooting at your location are being managed.

However, there are some other very important safety aspects when working with expectant moms, children, babies and newborns.  Please be sure that your chosen photographer takes this seriously.  I have seen way too many risky poses with newborns.  Know that many of the poses that you see in newborn photography are actually multiple images combined to make it look as if the baby was positioned like that.  Many are also taken with the parent or assistant supporting the baby’s head and then the hand or finger is edited out in postproduction.  Knowing how to work with a newborn baby safely should be a very important pre-requisite when choosing a photographer.

Another safety aspect is the health of the photographer.  As a photographer you cannot risk infecting someone with the flu or a tummy bug if you are sick.  I have even on occasion phoned a Mommy to say that I am fully up to the task of doing the shoot with their toddlers but am feeling like I am coming down with something and if one of her children is perhaps immune compromised that we should rather reschedule.

Do they have my best interests at heart?  Does the photographer really make the effort to understand what you want to create and what you’ll be working with.

Price and valueI’ve deliberately put this one last because although it might be a deal breaker for you should never select your photographer solely on price.  Of course very few have unlimited funds to spend on photographs and certainly there are photographers who charge very little for what seems on face value to be the same thing as those charging on the higher end of the scale.  ‘You get what you pay for,’ is definitely worth remembering here.  If you select a cheap photographer to work with you might get lucky and get a few awesome shots if they are hugely talented, may be starting out and have priced their offering to break into the market but chances are you may get nothing great.  If you pay a higher price you should be much more certain that you’re going to get fabulous service, a great shoot experience and all of the photos will be stunning.  It’s a matter or how much risk you are willing to take and how important the end result is to you.

Ultimately remember that whatever you pay you should be getting value.  Make sure that you fully understand what’s included in the price quoted.  Some photographers quote for the shoot only and then you buy which photos you like afterwards, some include albums or prints or other products and others include special edits to sweeten their offering.  Make sure you’re comparing apples with apples and trust me when I say that more is not always better when it comes to the amount of photos you get.  Sometimes less volume more quality really is best!

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