I am often asked, “Where is your studio located?” to which I reply, “I don’t have one.” The look on people’s faces when I say this is usually a confused look, or a look where their eyes say “Oh, you must not be that good then.” It often baffles me that many potential clients assume a photographer must have a photo studio to be a “good photographer”. The reality is this, there are many good, if not great, photographers that have no need for a studio or just cannot afford to own one. Studios are great, but they are costly! I personally wish I could afford one myself, but I manage just fine without one.
I would like to give the following advice to anyone that may have considered not hiring a photographer just because they don’t have a studio. These bullet point should help you determine if the photographer you are considering is the right photographer for you.
1) Ask to see a portfolio
It does not matter if a photographer has a studio, but even if they do, that does not guarantee they produce great images. Ask to see images they have produce that are like the images you have in mind. If you need a photographer for a: birthday party, concert, social event or portraits; ask to see those types of photos or something similar so you can know what to expect from them. While one photographer can be great at, say, outdoor natural light photos that does not guarantee that they can also produce good indoor photos. So ask them to show you a physical or digital portfolio.
2) Schedule time to talk in person
I always do my best, to convince my potential clients, to meet in person so we can discuss details of what exactly they need from me. Most of the time, when I get a call from a potential client, the first thing I am asked is “How much for (fill in the blank)?” Of course, I do my best to answer the question by phone if they refuse to meet in person; but, I always find I need more information to give an exact quote. As a result my quotes over the phone tend to be higher than quotes I provide in person. The last thing I want to do I scare off my potential clients, but as the same time I do not want to set the expectation lower than what it may actually be. Plus, get to know your photographer in person his/her personality may or may not be a fit for you. I also strongly believe their personality will reflect on the final product. I would even go as far as asking your photographer to describe their personal working style and style of photos they produce.
3) Photography Equipment and other questions
While I do not expect you to know every camera and bit of equipment a photographer may be using, here are a few questions you should ask your photographer before signing a contract.
· Do you use professional equipment?
· Do you have the equipment needed that will allow you to do what I need?
· Do you have back up equipment should your primary equipment fail the day of?
· Do you have an assistant that helps you with equipment the day I need you?
· Are you the photographer that will photograph my session?
· Do you have a backup photographer/plan should you not be able to make it to my session?
· Do you require a deposit?
· If my session needs more time than expected can you stay? Is there an additional charge?
· What is your refund/cancelation policy?
· If I need prints, what is your policy on printing myself or ordering prints from you?
4) Get it in writing
Once you know you are going to hire a specific photographer, always, I REPEAT, ALWAYS get it in writing. Do not give a photographer your hard earned money until after a contract is presented, signed and you fully agree to the terms. If there is something in a contract that you do not like, ask for it to be changed before signing. A good photographer will always accommodate a reasonable request to change something on a contract. Lastly, make sure you get a copy of the contract and a written receipt of payment from the photographer. If copies are not available for you at the time of signing, you can always request to use a smartphone camera to photography each page.
There are many other tips I could give you to follow before hiring a photographer. But, if you follow these 4 tips, at a minimum, you will be able to make a more informed decision vs hiring a photographer just because he owns a studio or has a low price. I hope this helps anyone that is considering hiring a photographer.
As always, thank you for stopping by and feel free to comment below.