Hiring a Professional Photographer? The Do's and Don't's
It's Never "Just"
"Just looking for a few quick photos"
"I just need a few so not looking to spend/it shouldn't cost more than..."
"I just need one good shot"
For professional photographers, it's never "just a few photos", or "just one good shot" and good is never "quick".
For example, if your session is on location somewhere, how do they get there to meet you? They still have to prepare, pack up equipment and drive to the location which includes time and fuel.
Or if they have a studio and you're going to them, that studio still has running costs and the photographer still has to set up for your session which might include props, a special backdrop etc. This is both time and supplies.
They will be spending time with you capturing those shots and often is always more than just a few which they then need to cull (select from) and then edit and deliver to you. During your session, they need to pose everyone, make sure everything looks great, but what if your child is uncooperative and they have to work a little harder to get a smile? "Quick" is not in a professional photographer's vocabulary, not if they want to do a good job and live up to their style and quality.
By all means, your photographer can definitely deliver a limited amount of images, we actually need to do this or we would be over working, over delivering and undercutting ourselves.
When you hire a professional photographer with the mentality that you only need x amount of images, therefore the price should be quite low, you're highly undervaluing the photographer, their work and the investment they put into your session to give you the experience you deserve.
Please don't ask a professional photographer that is offering a quality service to reduce their price to that of low quality service because you're only asking for a few images because those few images include much more for the photographer, it is never "just".
DO choose your photographer in the style that you love, based on the services they offer at the price they are asking. If you cannot afford their price, simply state that and move on.
DO acknowledge and appreciate the time and overall investment your photographer generously dedicates to you and your session. They are running a business, not a charity.
Filters, Just Don't!
You want beautiful photos, you start the process of searching for the right photographer with a style you love. You hire them, they provide an amazing experience and deliver the beautiful photos you were hoping for that match their style. You love them, you want to show them off.
And then you upload to Facebook and Instagram and slap one of these on your images! Why?
Your images now no longer have the look you specifically hired your photographer for, their style. Your images now no longer represent your photographer's beautiful work they put countless hours into creating for you. People now see an image that they believe was created by your photographer and they may not like it, therefore assuming the photographer's work is poor.
Professional photographers work hard to learn and achieve a specific look they want for their images and that is what they deliver. It is their mark, their signature. If you hire one because you love their style, why ruin it with a filter?
Most professional photographers also have contracts that every client agrees to and signs prior to their session and in that contract there is a copyright and no altering clause. Filters alter the images and often in a horrible way, they do not improve them and with them that is what others see who may not realize there is a filter on the image and it is not true representation of the photographer's actual work. This is not what the photographer agreed to deliver, and the images are not yours to do as you wish. A copyright clause which also states ownership of the images remain with the photographer, but that the client has printing rights, is legally binding.
While the images are of you and your family, they were created by the photographer and just like a painting by an artist, just because you buy it doesn't mean you now have ownership of the original art and can alter it as you like. Copyright infringement is actually a federal offense, it can be very serious.
By altering the images, it is a direct disrespect to the photographer as well as breaking your contract that is a legal document and a photographer can take legal steps against you.
Although, often photographers do see this happening to their work but don't say anything in fear of a negative online review, often false, but potential clients reading don't know that. This is hurtful and should not happen. Photographer's are artists and take great pride in their talent and want their clients to love their images, as they are created. If you want a different look, speak with the photographer or look for another one with the look you want.
If you love your photographer's work, and respect them as a person and an artist, please don't mess with their work. Don't alter the images, don't crop out watermarks that are there for a reason, don't steal images you did not pay for by taking screen shots etc. I can't imagine you would appreciate these hurtful actions if you were the one providing the service and having food taken off your table for your family.
DO share the images you have purchased and giving credit to your photographer by tagging them and let your friends and family know what a great experience you had and who it was with.
DO share watermarked images that the photographer posts with the watermark in tact so that proper credit is given to the photographer.
Negotiation Is For Board Rooms And Court Houses
I have a blog post on the topic of CODB (Cost Of Doing Business) for a more in depth look at what that means.
For this though, let me just ask, why do photography clients feel it is okay to ask a photographer to negotiate their prices for their services? I don't generally ask my clients what they do for work, sometimes it comes up in conversation but I have never once thought to ask them to negotiate the price of their service or products if I want to use them, as if I would be doing them a favor.
I shop at Walmart frequently, I never ask the cashier if she can discount my purchase because I'm a frequent shopper, or I purchased a certain amount of something, or when I only go in for "just a few" items.
I have a hair salon, and a lash lady but when it's time to pay, I pay what their price is. I mean, I'm using their service and both of them are providing a service to which they perform themselves, by hand. Both are educated and trained, they have to be certified to offer these services. They're talented. They both use products and equipment with their services that they have to purchase and upgrade.
Many of my clients use these same services, and I wonder if they ask those people to work for free too?
Photography is definitely a very over-saturated market, meaning there are photographers at every corner, however not all are professional and by professional I mean not only educated and trained, but legal. Anyone can buy a camera, but professionals truly invest time, money and do whatever they can to build a successful and profitable business.
You as a client have plenty of choices for someone to take photos for you, but it is true that you get what you pay for and if you only want to choose a professional because you want someone who knows what they're doing and provides exceptional service, then you also need to respect the photographer's prices for that.
You have a few things to consider when looking for a professional photographer, price is one yes, but you also look at their work and style and either like it or not. You want to see a good portfolio and know they have experience and know what they're doing. You do not want to be the guinea pig.
If you do want the whole package, a great experience and even better images, then it will come at a higher price tag. It's not necessarily a matter of money, but a matter of priority.
There are definitely professional photographers that charge more and there are some that charge less, often those that are priced quite low either have not run their CODB to price accordingly, or don't have a good understanding of what it takes to run a profitable business.
Who you choose is completely up to you, but please don't ask a professional photographer to bend over backwards to be your choice. It is their livelihood that is at stake.
DO support and respect the professional photographer who might be higher priced if they are who you want, without asking them to come down to another's price point.
DO choose someone based on your needs that fits in your budget if the former is not an option.