Photography is becoming increasingly more accessible which has lead to a significant rise in the number of portrait photographers out there to choose from. This also means that there are a range of portrait photographers in all price ranges and of all abilities. So, how do you know who to choose and what to look for? Well, thankfully we are here to help…and as unbiased as we can.
There are, we feel, 5 key things to look for when choosing your portrait photographer:
Choosing a Portrait Photographer
There is nothing more attractive to a brand than people recommending its products and services to their friends and family. We instinctively trust and value the opinions of those close to us and this holds true with portrait photographers as well. The best thing you can do when you are looking for a portrait photographer is to first ask your friends and family if they have anyone they would recommend. People are usually very willing to share their experiences (both good and bad) once asked. Don’t head out and instantly hire the first photographer that is recommended to you though, it’s very important that you make sure they are a fit with what you want. At the very least this will give you a list of photographers to start with and you can go from there. Once you have your list it’s always a good idea to search around and see what others are saying about them as well. This will often give you more insight into how they work and what other people that you don’t know think of them. These opinions will give you a more unbiased look at their services. A great place to start would be their Facebook page (ours is located here). Websites are great as well, but a Facebook page will show you more of their work as well as how they interact with their clients.
In our opinion this is probably the most important thing to look at when choosing your portrait photographer. Put price and everything else to side for a minute and look at their style. Is it a style you love, or do you hate it? If you hate their style, why would you even entertain investigating their work and services any further? There is no point as you will ultimately end up with photographs you aren’t happy with. We often turn down portrait work because people are looking for a different style than what we photograph. We have a distinct style and we do not want to have a round peg, square hole situation. There are photographers of all different styles out there, keep looking until you find one whose style fit what you are looking for. We can’t stress this point enough, make sure the style is something you like!! A portrait shouldn’t be something that sits on a disc or a hard drive, it should be something that is cherished and looked back upon for years, so make sure it’s something you are happy with! Price, ultimately, shouldn’t really be an issue here. There are photographers of varying abilities and varying prices. If you find the photographer that you fall in love with (style-wise, we’ve been told we’re very charismatic ourselves) the price will be a secondary decision.
Going hand in hand with style is portfolio. Once you have found a photographer who has a style that fits your desire, it’s time to have a bigger look at their work. Unfortunately today there are a lot of “start up” photographers that steal images from around the web to build up their portfolio. An easy way to spot this is that there isn’t a defined “style” across the images. Another reason to look at the bigger portfolio is to make sure that the image you fell in love with for its style is replicated again and wasn’t a one-off or an accidental image. This is important, if you saw one image that you loved because of it’s style, you want to make sure that style really is the portrait photographer’s main style. If you can’t find anything similar to that style again just ask the photographer about it. Perhaps it’s a style he is passionate about but they haven’t had the opportunity to do very often.
Qualifications are extremely important. Anyone today can call themselves a portrait photographer and start up a photography business. But, you have to have a talent, skill, and knowledge to gain a qualification. A qualification of any level will show that the photographer is serious about their work as well. We are currently qualified to an Associateship level with the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (ASWPP). This is a distinction held by less than 10% of qualified members. What does this really mean? By having this qualification it means that we have the skills, knowledge, and ability to consistently produce images at a high standard. It means that we know what we are doing with every pose and lighting setup to make sure the image turns out how exactly as imagined. We have put this third on the list because we also understand that there are very talented photographers out there that just haven’t pursued a qualification yet. But, we do feel that it’s an important thing to look for.
Lastly you will want to look at location. There is no point in pursuing a photographer located in the States if you live in England (unless of course you are willing to pay for their travel). We are located outside of Cambridge, but we do travel anywhere in the UK for our portrait photographer services. For some location we will charge a travel fee, but due to the nature of our high end portraiture we travel across a very broad area without extra fees. If you have found your perfect portrait photographer and find they are a couple of hundred miles away it’s worth asking about their travel. You might be able to come to an arrangement and book your perfect photographer.
Booking the right portrait photographer is an important decision. If they really fit you and your style you might not have to look for another one ever again! If you truly want to cherish the moments of your life, take a little extra time and carefully select your portrait photographer.
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