Tips to Find the Right Photographer

Advice is free but valuable. I feel strongly about helping people get the most out of their event and portrait photography. It troubles me to hear horror stories about bad photographers, or at least those that are badly-behaved. This is my profession and I care deeply about what I do and I’ll do everything in my power to help people make good decisions, no matter whom they decide to hire. So here’s a little advice I wrote to help you in your search for the right photographer:

Aside from your memories, photographs are the only part of your wedding or other family event that will last forever.
Be cautious about deals that sound too good to be true – because they usually are. After a studio pays their bills and then pays their taxes, they likely are paying the photographers very little money to photograph your wedding or other important life events. This should be a red flag – you should not entrust your family’s memories to someone who is being paid little more than minimum wage – so take the following steps to make sure you don’t have any regrets later.

  1. Find out in advance who the photographer will be for your family’s event. If it is not the studio owner, then insist on meeting the photographer in advance. For example, consider with whom you are going to spend your entire wedding day. I typically spend more time with a bride on her wedding day than anyone else – including her husband. You should hire someone with whom you are comfortable.
  2. Ask for at least three references of clients whom they have personally photographed in the past year. And also ask to see a portfolio of photographs from their events. You should only consider someone whose work you love, and whose clients hold them in high esteem.
  3. Find out how many events they have photographed – it should number at least in the dozens and their portfolio should reflect that.
  4. Do they have liability insurance? If the photographer causes injury or damage, even if by accident, do they have proper insurance to cover related expenses? Ask for a copy of their policy. This is not expensive and every professional photographer should have it.
  5. Do they have indenification? This is insurance in case something goes wrong with their equipment which results in the loss of your photographs or their ability to do the job. You want to know you are protected in case they have equipment failure. Again, this is not expensive and every professional photographer should have it.
  6. Are they a member of any professional photography association? Examples would be PPA, WPPI, and ISPWP. It is not expensive to join these and it will demonstrate an investment on their part to uphold certain standards in their work.

If you are on a tight budget: rather than hiring an amateur for eight hours of mediocre images, you may consider a few hours of outstanding and memorable images from an experienced professional. Beware the craigslist photographer – it’s a great website for finding a good used bicycle, but maybe not the right place to search for professional services. It is not the place to hire a professional photographer.
I hope this information is helpful to you as you plan your family’s event, and I wish you every success with your special day.

– Michael