Top 5 Common Mistakes Finding the Right Photographer

Photography industry is very fragmented - there are tons of photographers out there.  How do you know who’s the right one for you and your family?  I’d like to share some common mistakes people have made so that you can avoid them.

I Never Looked Great In Pictures, Therefore I Won’t Look Great In Your Session

I was pre-warned so many times from my clients, almost from everyone I shot so far.  In the end all of them not only loved the photos (they could see from my digital camera instantly), but also started to be really creative in poses as they got happier and more confident in their sessions.  Trust me, you will be surprised how different this experience might brought to you.

The Best Photograph Comes From The Best Equipment

Equipment is very important in professional photography - of course you wouldn’t want a photographer that uses a point and shoot camera for your session.  However, better equipments do not guarantee better photography.  Plus there is always different discussion in terms of what is the best equipment.  Portrait photography is unique from landscape photography.  Studio photography could be different from natural light photography.  A photographer owning a full line of cameras and lenses or at least the luxury equipments, however, do not guarantee you a perfect portrait photograph.

From technical stand point of view, a good portrait photo need to have a combination of the following: good exposure/lighting, good mood, good atmosphere, good color (even black/white), and good post processing (for necessary retouching, color adjustment in printing etc.).  In fine art photography, concept is also extremely important.  If a photograph is placed at home, choice of media to show the photograph (canvas vs. paper print etc.), size, material and color of frame and how best it can fit with your home interior etc. all play an important role.  In short, a good photographer need to have a combination of solid skills in addition to quality equipment to be able to deliver the best portrait works for you.

Photographers From Photography Schools Can Guarantee Quality

Going to business school does not guarantee you to be the successful businessman.  Similarly, going to an art school does not guarantee you to be the successful artist.  Photographers do need basic training to be professional, however, they need unique “sense” or “intuition” to be a great photographer.  This unique “sense” or “intuition” is not taught in the school.

There are photographers who learned photography from classes and books, and lack the creativity and talent to capture the unique spirit of you as an individual.  Although the photos might turn out great, but your own personality will not shine through.

If you truly want the best portrait photography, avoid photographers that use a “formula” and instead choose one with natural talent.

Portrait Photographers With Professional Photography Resume Are Better

There are many different types of professional photographers - those shooting for news stories are very different from those shooting for fashion, architecture or events.  Each requires different skills and “sense”.  Portrait photographers who formerly worked in different professional photography field do not guarantee they have the right skills to shoot people.  Plus, there are many different styles of portrait photographers out there - photo journalism vs. artistic are two distinct styles.  You need to find the one that is right for you.

In a nutshell, portrait photographers work with people.  Therefore, it is essential they have great people skills on top of their photography skills.  Photographers with sensitive observation and strong communication skills are more likely be able to quickly capture the uniqueness of each client and execute the photo shooting with unique perspective.  This is something very important for you to choose a portrait photographer.

Cheaper Packages Fit My Budget Better

Pricing of portrait photography could be very complicated.  Each photographer offers something different.  Packages could look cheaper for different reasons:

Some low priced packages might turn out to be a lot more expensive than you thought - eg. they look cheaper because they only mention session fee but might not include all the “add-ons” that they finally will bill you.

Some chain store photo studios offer low price and deliver works on a “formula”, where everyone they shoot might pose the same, and look the same.  If you are looking for unique offerings, they might not be the ones you would like to work with anyway.  Please be sure to compare apple to apple when you compare prices of different photographers.

There are numerous packages out there.  Almost no two photographers offer exactly the same package.  Be sure to carefully study the package options and what the price really refers to:

Is it just session fee, or session fee plus final deliverables?What kind of deliverables (quality and quantity etc.)?

What is the quality of their portfolios so that you can expect what you possibly could get?

What is the quality of services (responsiveness, productivity, etc.)?

In summary, a cheaper package might be costly if you end up not getting what you want.