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What to look for in a "professional" photographer

Game of their lives
Game of their lives
Robbie McLean-Bayline Studios

Welcome to our new series on digital photography.

This weeks article focuses on what to look for in a "professional" photographer.

Each week we will be covering a different subject, ranging from basic DSLR camera operation, to composition, equipment reviews, tips and tricks, as well as taking reader requests and Q&A.

With the advent of digital photography, one cannot go anywhere without seeing or being exposed to a camera. Just look around. Camera phones are the norm, and how many times have you seen someone taking a photo with their iPad? Now-a-days everyone thinks they are a photographer.

Well sure, any yahoo can take a picture, but it takes a talented professional to create a lasting image that will evoke emotion, capture a moment in time, and become a treasured keepsake for generations. Great images don't just happen, they are crafted.

Recently we have been getting a lot of clients asking if we can help them "fix" bad photos taken by other "Pro's". Some of these are really, I mean really bad. Red eyes, blurry, way to dark, grainy or "noisy" as we call it.

So I decided to list a number of things that you should look for when selecting a photographer for your wedding, portrait, or important event. Here goes!

1. Are they a full time pro, or a weekend warrior who plays at being a photographer for extra pocket change?

2. Are they insured? Do they have liability insurance?

3. How long have they been in business? Do they have a physical address for a studio?

4. Do they have a website where you can see clear large samples of their work?

5. Does their website contain real verifiable reviews? Can you contact the people that have reviewed their work?

6. Do they belong to any professional photography organizations such as PPA, ASMP, ABC, MDPPA, NACE ? If they do not, or do not know what any of these are, RUN!

7. Can you see actual physical copies of their work such as albums, photo books, framed and matted images?

8. Have they won any awards for their work? Can they prove it?

9. Are they a preferred vendor with any institutions or venues?

10. What equipment do they use? This may require a little research on your part. Most pro's will use Canon 5D MK III, Canon 1 DX, or Nikon D3 or D4. If their camera has a pop up flash, again RUN!

There are a lot more things like, are they friendly, do you click with them, is their style what you are looking for. These are the basics. If who ever you choose can answer yes to these questions and can prove it, you have a much better chance of having a great photographic experience.

Just like when hiring any other service provider, you need to educate yourself, and do your homework.

Robbie McLean is an internationally respected photojournalist, author, and lifestyle photographer. He is the creative director for Baltimore based Bayline Studios Photography and Events, LLC.

Contact Robbie at:

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