It’s in our nature to shop around when we are looking to hire someone or decide where we want to spend our money. Sometimes, it’s all about the deal. Other times, it’s about quality and knowing your purchase will last. Looking for a photographer can be overwhelming since it seems like there is one setting up shop every other weekend. Advances in digital photography have made the barrier to entry for this industry almost zero, so consumers have to be careful when choosing a person to trust with their money and their memories.
Education is key and knowing what things to look for in a senior photographer before hiring one can eliminate buyers remorse and ensure that your decision is the right one.
1. Do They Specialize in Senior Portraits?
Some people seem to think that if you are a photographer, you photograph everything from weddings to babies. It’s simply not true and actually can be a sign that the photographer hasn’t quite found their niche yet. The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind. Think of it like a lawyer- you want one who is experienced in one branch of law and knows all the ins and outs of it. Same for photographers. Not only are they more likely to have better knowledge of their genre, but they are more equipped to help you plan and walk you through the process (more on that later). Some may photograph seniors and one other niche, but beyond that is no longer “specializing”.
2. Does Their Style Match Yours?
Any photographer knows that having a portfolio to show off their work is imperative to getting hired. Take a look through it and see if you vibe with their style- their lighting, the types of shots they capture, the environments they use. Read through their website and get a feel for their personality- does the wording seem too professionally and business-y? Or does it speak to you and the type of person you’d like to work with? Want to a sample of my senior photos? Here ya go!
3. Will They Provide an Experience?
Going back to the subject of low barrier to entry, when anyone can pop up shop at any time, they sometimes forget about the experience aspect of this business. Being photographed is very intimate and not everyone is inherently comfortable with it. I take great pride in the experience I provide as a senior photographer. Look for signs that they will do everything they can to make you and your senior comfortable. Are most of their photos static or do they convey emotion? Do they provide any extras outside of just taking photos? Do they help you with everything along the way? And that leads into my next tip…
4. Do They Offer Products and Printing Services?
When I first began in photography (long ago), the trend was to provide a disc of images after a session in hopes that the client would take care of all the printing on their own. Problem was, most people never actually followed through and these beautiful memories remained hidden in a desk drawer to be forgotten. You want a photographer that will do the work for you- it’s why you hired them! The job shouldn’t stop at the end of the session. See if they offer printing service and provide you with gorgeous ways to display your images so that you can actually enjoy them for years to come. You take a peek at the beautiful senior photo products I provide for my seniors and their moms.
5. Do They Have a Website that Looks Professional?
Another advancement in technology is the ease in which someone can create a website. Even one for free! Every good business has costs you don’t see, so if you notice a photographer skimped on their site, imagine what kind of service they’ll be providing. Is their site mobile friendly or is it difficult to navigate? Do things look outdated or messy? Is it easy to book with them or do you have to hunt for a button or contact info? Their online presence should speak volumes about them and their business.
pssst..want to know even more about the importance of senior photos? Here’s 5 things you didn’t know about senior portraits
6. Are They on the Higher Side of Pricing?
The saying “you get what you pay for” is almost always correct so it’s no surprise that this also applies to photographers. Remember the tip above about receiving all the images in a disc? If you notice a photographer that offers that and only requires a couple hundred dollars for it, it usually means they won’t be providing much else. Think of a store you don’t like to go to because the employees aren’t approachable, the lines are long, and you know whatever you buy will fall apart in a month- but…they’re inexpensive. Now think of a store that makes you feel like royalty. Maybe they offer their customers coffee while they shop or wrap your items in pretty tissue paper. It even smells nice. You go in knowing it’s going to be more expensive, but you don’t care because you love how they make you feel. A higher price tag means it’s a safe bet that this senior photographer is going to take care of you and give you the red carpet treatment through every step of the process.
7. Do They Help With Planning?
Do they explain the process on their website or leave you wondering? Do they have resources to help you choose outfits? Or locations? If they are only going to click the shutter button, that leaves you to fend for yourself and that’s not how it should be. They are the expert. They know what looks best and should be able to offer you advice and answers for your questions. If you are given no direction or suggestions, they aren’t doing their job and your photos will be less than stellar. I am ALL ABOUT the planning process and have a ton of ways I help my seniors prepare for their session. Check out my Senior Portrait Planning Resource Guide!
Want more tips? Then check out 8 Things Your Daughter Wants From her Senior Portraits