What is the Best Way to Find a Photographer?
Finding a really great photographer can be a difficult task. How do you know if the photographer is any good? Will the photographer show up on time, or at all? and How can I be sure I am getting the photos that I am paying for?
I myself am in this unique position of being a photographer who gets hired by clients and a photographer who hires other photographers. Since I stick mostly to corporate clients and because I am a photographer based in Toronto, I am not looking to make this post self promotional. I hope to answer a few questions so you know what to look for when hiring a photographer. So if you are looking find a wedding photographer or find a family photographer this should give you a good idea what to look for.
Where to Start When Booking a Photographer?
1. Google - Yeah, that was a super simple answer, but the key is being specific. If we type photographer or photographer in Toronto for example, there will be a ton of results, way to many. Now if we type "baby photographer in liberty village who specializes in newborn photography 1-3 weeks old" we are probably going to find a photographer who does exactly what we are looking for.
2. Facebook - If you are in your late twenties to early thirties your feed will be bombarded with a never ending stream of wedding and baby photos. If your seeing a pattern of someones work you like, that's a good place to start.
3. Instagram - I would say this is really a good source for wedding photographers and the like. Just be careful, because those Instagram photos look a lot better when they are tiny then in real life.
4. Friends - Recommendations or always a great place to start your search. Just be weary, ad ask to see the results. Not everyone knows what a good picture is, and what is great for one person might not be great for you.
5. Directory Sites - Most of these are not to great. They are kind of like the parasites of the internet, but they are probably good for something.
What To Stay Away From?
Just bad business skills in general. The website sucks, the company looks bad, your not even sure if it is a scam in the first place - stay away. Remember, in almost every scenario we get exactly what we pay for. Also, I like to say if the communication is bad in the beginning imagine how it will be when there is a problem.
How To Know If They Are Any Good?
The short answer is the photographers work. Do you like their work? Are they liked by their peers. Hire by style, rather than subject matter. I think a lot of time clients don't realize that if they don't see the exact example image of the subject they are looking for they move on. For example, a lot of the general assumes wedding photography is very difficult, but in reality it is one of the easiest things to shoot there is. There is a reason most photographers start there and then move on to something else. (p.s. I won't shoot you wedding)
Talk to them. If they are giving recommendations and listening to what you want to achieve in your photos they are on the right track. You will be able to gauge a persons experience by how they talk, not how they look. If they start boasting about their camera, run away.
How Much Should I Pay for a Photographer?
The short answer is: as much as you can and what feels comfortable to you. I really recommend anyone looking to hire a photographer be upfront about what their budget is. It will help the company plan a their services to fit your specific needs, or they can recommend someone who would be a better fit. Often, the reason certain services are higher because their are a lot of hidden costs, such as rents and equipment which greatly impact price. So, if the client is afraid to mention a budget because they are afraid of getting ripped off, your talking to the wrong company in the first place if their is no trust there.
How Do I Know I am Getting What I am Paying For?
If you have outlined all of your needs and they have been delivered then you should have received what you have payed for. Of course, a great photographer will exceed your expectations. A contract is another great way to make sure both parties are satisfied. Photography can be a pretty expensive service. It is because a lot goes on in the background that most clients are frankly unaware of. Editing time, equipment, rents and numerous other costs are reflected in pricing.
Will They Show Up On Time?
I think most will show up on time, especially if they haven't been payed in advance. I am a strong proponent of paying when the product is delivered as promised. Paying on receipt, like when the photos are delivered not before, will help a lot of clients avoid a lot of problems with their would be vendor.
I hope this has helped anyone looking to hire a photographer.