I am a Tottenham Ontario Family Photographer who would love to photograph your family, but I understand this can be an overwhelming decision. Where do you start? How do you know if you’re booking a qualified professional photographer? I’ve put together this guide to help you out.
Make a Shortlist
Even better than searching on Google is referrals. Ask your friends about photographers they have used. You can pre-qualify photographers by asking some very simple questions:
- Were they an Accredited Photographer? (More on this below)
- Were you happy with your photographs?
- Did they offer portrait printing, custom framing, Christmas cards, etc?
- Overall, were you happy with their services and professionalism?
- Would you use them again?
If you don’t know anyone who has used a photographer recently, then a Google search should give you some quick results. Do a simple search, for example “Tottenham Ontario Family Photographer” – change the words as needed but be sure to include the location and the type of shoot you want.
Check out the first page on Google and see how many times the same photographer appears on the first page. This means that their work is concentrated in that particular area and they should have a number of positive Google reviews.
You’ve got some names, now what?
Google them. Go on their website and review their portfolio. While you’re looking at all the photographers’ websites, there will be some that make you go “wow, those are awesome” and some that will make you go “oh, that’s nice”. Concentrate on the “wow those are awesome” sites and add them to your short list.
Are they a professional or a hobbyist?
Finally, check to see if the photographer is a member of a professional photography organization, such as the Professional Photographers of Canada or a similar association. Accredited members of the PPOC have been pre-qualified by a group of their peers and awarded a nationally recognized accreditation in their photography genre. This will help you find a true professional – someone who has extensively studied their craft; someone who will not disappoint you.
I asked on my Facebook Page what people look for when they are researching photographers. The number one answer that came up was “their style”. What is style when it comes to photography? In my opinion, it’s how their work makes you feel. When looking at a photographer’s style, you have to look at all their pictures on their website and decide what resonates with you. Some factors to consider are posed or candid images, studio or outdoors looks and if the people in the photographs look stiff or at ease.
Reviewing Photo Quality
While you’re looking at their photographs, look past the “oh those are cute” feeling of the pictures, and look for things like sharpness, focus problems, lighting and colour (or black and white). Ask yourself these questions:
- Do the pictures look sharp?
- Are there any shadows on their face?
- Are the people squinting?
- Does the skin tone look correct?
- Does the background look natural (grass isn’t washed out or overly saturated, for example)?
- When looking at black and white photos, does the skin look muddy or is it creamy looking?
- Does the photographer have a good mix of images in their portfolio?
Have a notebook handy when reviewing portfolios to jot down answers to these questions. It will help you with your shortlist.
While I understand that budget can affect your decision, it should not be the primary factor. There is a lot of truth in the saying that “you get what you pay for”. Professional Photographers have spent years learning their craft, purchasing professional equipment, learning how to edit meticulously and have many business expenses the client doesn’t see. Photographers deserve to earn a living wage. It is reasonable to budget a the same amount you may spend on a new TV to hire a Professional Family Photographer. Typically, a retainer is due upon booking with the balance due once you view your images.