When it comes to finding a local photographer that fits ones needs, there are some things that really can go wrong without the proper information. There may not be a right way to pick a professional photographer, but there is definitely a smart way.
In our very big world gone are the days when picking up a phone book or asking a neighbor for a suggestion on a service professional are just that easy. With the internet and the invention of places like Craigslist and mass advertising, it is no wonder that an average consumer can get bogged down with all of the choices out there. Many times, it becomes easiest to just walk into a chain studio with a good running deal and get it over with. Although walking into a chain studio at the local mall may seem easier to deal with, finding a quality professional photographer will always be more beneficial in the long run.
So what exactly is the benefit in this and what are some ways to tell if a photographer is of quality?
The benefit is simple, personal connection. In a chain studio there is no time for a personal connection and this will reflect in the photographs. Although the photograph may technically look okay, there will be nothing creative or personal about it. Taking the time to find a small business or freelance photographer may be more work at first, but the lasting memories from someone who has taken the time to form a relationship with their clients is absolutey invaluable.
Finding the right photographer is not as simple. There are so many talented artists out there and they all have a different way of seeing the world. It is very important to take the time to get to know your options and weigh them against each other. However when beginning the search for a local photographer, here are some key points to remember
Experience: What kind of experience does the person have? Do they have enough examples of the genre of portraits for a client to feel comfortable paying them?
Education: Although many photographers may not have a "formal" education, it is very easy to tell which photographers are passionate about their art. A good indication of a photographer who is not only current but educated is a professional membership; organizations like Professional Photographer's of America and Colorado Professional Photographers hold their members to higher educational standards. Always ask if a photographer pursues education in their field.
Legitimacy: Is the photographer a licensed business owner? Do they pay sales tax and business taxes in their area? Although this may not seem like something a consumer would have to worry about, it could later pose a problem should the photographer not be operating under state standards for business ownership. If someone is charging money for a service, they should be doing it legally!
Budget: Is the service within your means?It is important to remember that photographers are a business too and pay many overhead expenses, but remember to read the fine print! If a deal seems too good to be true, it may be. Photographs are an investment, but should never tap into your child's college fund either.
Style: This may be the most important point on the list and was saved for last. A photographer's style reflects everything about them. It is crucial to take the time to view a photographer's work and get a sense of their style before hiring them. A tomboy would never hire a runway model to do her shopping!
In the coming weeks, I hope to feature many of our unsung heros in the photography business locally in Denver. Looking for a good unknown photographer? Stay tuned for some wonderful profiles on local business owners!