They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Whether it's your wedding day, a family shoot, or some other special event, your pictures are one of the few things that will last long after that day has come to an end. Your pictures need to be perfect. They need to tell the world how important that day was. And you only get one opportunity to capture not just the picture, but the emotions that goes along with it. How will your photographs tell your story?
With the advancement of technology, it seems everyone is becoming a photographer now a days. It's easy for people to take good pictures of just about anything. So how do you choose the right photographer for your event? You may have a relative who tells you to not waste your money, they can do it all for you for free. Maybe it's a friend or coworker who has been taking pictures for years and they will do it for a very affordable price.
Lets start with the financial investment. How much should you budget? With so many photographers out there today, most of them are competing for your business based on price. This should be a giant red flag warning you that you are headed down the wrong road. Price is important and you should not pay more than you can afford and not more than what is reasonable. But if it sounds like an amazing deal, be leery of what you are actually getting. Remember, nothing is ever free, and we always get what we paid for. You don't get a Lamborghini for the price of a Volkswagen, even if you are told that you will. Set a range for what you are willing to pay, and then use this as one of the last deciding factors.
Interview your photographer, and allow them to interview you as well. This will be an important event and a financial investment. It is critical that you and the photographer like each other, think on the same level and understand what you want. Take the time to meet for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and just get to know each other. Listen to your gut instinct! If it does not feel right, it probably isn't. Don't continue down that road against your better judgement.
Don't just take the photographers word for it that they can capture your event. Look at their history of work. Do you like it? Is it a style that you like? Do they have an extensive portfolio of similar events or are most of their pictures of other things? There are many amazing photographers out there, and they all have their strong interests. If you are looking for a wedding photographer, but they show you all of their beautiful landscape pictures, this is another red flag. Capturing a wedding and people is drastically different than capturing a gorgeous sunset on the mountains.
What is the photographer passionate about? Again, all photographers have their strong points and something they are better at then anyone else, but is it your event? If the photographer absolutely loves auto racing or wildlife and it is obvious that is where their passion lies, again, perhaps this is not the person for your wedding.
But they went to college, had formal training, and got a degree. Never forget that photography is an art. Just because someone has a degree in art, does not make them an artist. A photographer must have an eye for it. They need to be creative. Can they envision your event better than you can?
The right photographer will be as excited, if not more so, than you to photograph your event. They will ask lots of questions about what you want, what the venue is like, who will be there, and more. If it seems like they are asking a lot of silly questions, this is good. It shows they have a strong desire and have done this type of shoot many times. They are thinking of things you probably haven't thought of. Keep the conversation going.
Are they willing to check out the venue(s) before the event? A passionate, committed photographer will want to plan the best pictures before the event and know what the lighting conditions will be like and what backgrounds are available.
How long will it take to get your pictures back? Even though you will want them as soon as possible, be patient. If the photographer tells you you will have them immediately or the next day, STOP right here!!! It takes time to download, sort and refine the images. If they simply offer you the disk, it's time to walk away. A wedding can produce thousands of images that can take weeks to process. Of those thousands, a few hundred will be worthy of submitting to you for your approval.
There are many, many more things to consider when hiring a photographer, but this is a good starting point. After going through all of this it comes down to this; (1) do you like the person? (2) do you believe they are capable of capturing your event? (3) are you willing to pay what they are asking?
What other things would be important to you? What experiences have you had? Your contribution to this topic is very valuable and can help others choose the right photographer.