We all love looking at photos and/or taking photos. There's a reason why all photography related apps and devices are among the favourites at all ages. Some can take amazing photos and some others think they do. Being creative is an amazing and fun activity to exercise the mind, and photography is the first choice because the result is immediate without much time consumption; though a professional fine art photographer can take hours up to days creating amazing images that surpass your imagination.
But what happens when you want state of the art images of yourself and/or family? That's when you hire a professional. The Photographer.
As you may have noticed, if you google photographers in your area, a very extensive list will appear and believe it or not, the best ones are not always the ones on top of that list; the ones with good SEO knowledge are. So how do you find the right photographer for you?
1. Browse: Yes, browsing can be exhausting but it does work better the more precise you are; you still need to invest time on this. Also consider, most photographer don't place their pricing online so you'll have to call them or email them. Most of the time, the photographer will take less than 24hrs to answer back and email or even less than 2 hours! (the beauty of small business mix with technology).
Instead of searching for "Calgary Photographer", search instead for example "beauty photographer in Calgary" or "Children photographer in Calgary". Be precise about the type of photography you're looking for and the location for it.
2. Referral: Nothing works like a charm than asking friends and family for photographers they know, or the one who took their photos. It works wonderfully if you DO like their style. This is very important. You will be investing money on this so you want to be sure you get what you want. What would the point be then if the photographer is the nicest person you've ever met but you are not keen of their style? Choose wisely and be sure you'll be completely satisfied by service and final product.
3. Style: What kind of style are you looking for? Each photographer has it's own perspective of beauty and composition and this affects the final result. If you found a portrait photographer with an amazing style but with no family gallery photos, chances are he/she will still deliver your family photos with the plus of the style you liked. All you have to do is ask. Also consider consistency and chronology in their style. Galleries are usually organized from newest to oldest; do you see improvement in their style from their first to their newest? or does it look more like some of the photos came out good by chance?
4. Price: We all like good deals on photographers, and websites like Kijiji or Deals websites like Living Social can provide you with such things. I've seen photographers on Kijiji looking to work for free or pennies to build their portfolio and I've had many people approaching me with complains about them. The problem ladies and gentleman, is not the photographer. You can be surprised to see that one of these can actually be a good photographer that honestly wants to build their portfolio and needs subjects, but these are like a needle in the hay stack or like winning the lottery--mere chance. The problem resides in lack of research. Don't jump right on it because it's free or cheap. Always consider their style (as mentioned above). Something else to consider is that if you pay good money for your photos, you will be able to hold the photographer accountable for what they deliver and you can avoid hiccups on the way because it's a PAID service, specially if your photographer is the famous "Uncle Bob" were you also put at risk your relationship with him/her if all goes wrong. ALWAYS RESEARCH. If they are building their portfolio chances are they must have at least 3-5 images that will give you an idea of what they can deliver.
5. Time: Time is of essence for everybody. Consider when do you want your photos done. Is there a special occasion you need them for? Even if the date is still far, don't hesitate on booking asap the photographer. Spring/Summer get filled fast for family sessions and weddings and Fall/Winter get filled fast for Holiday themed sessions and weddings as well. So keep this into account depending on what the photographer specializes in so that you can have your session done close to the date you want.
Also consider what is the delivery time frame. Photographers can take from 1 week up to months to deliver the final product after your session. This can be caused by many reasons: the amount of postproduction work for your session (usually weddings take a long time vs. family sessions), high/low season for your photographer or plain disorganization (always hoping is not the latter). When contacting a photographer, ask if they can do your session at a specific date and how long will it take him/her to deliver the final product. This is planning ahead.
6. Safety: Going back to number 4 above (See Price) for the case of the randomly picked/unknown and inexperienced photographer looking to build their portfolio, if they insist they have nothing to show you of their previous work then ask yourself why. I prefer to err on the side of prevention and walk away from it, SPECIALLY if you're looking for Boudoir /risqué photos. If they haven't done at least a photo of a friend or family member to build their work or practice then is someone I wouldn't want to go with. Better safe than sorry but if you're still going for it, bring someone with you.
7. Meet them first: If it's the first time you'll work with your chosen photographer, is best to meet with them first at a public place to get to know them. This also makes a big difference on the final result of your photos because you'll know them by the session date, they can suggest ideas or tips for best results and you'll feel more comfortable with her/him which reflects in the final image.
Feel free to share in the comments any other tips I might have missed or experiences good or bad that you have had and how any of these tips would have helped.
Bye for now!