In a world where a good DSLR Camera is affordable to everyone on your neighborhood block, it can be hard to know who to go to for your special portraits. Department stores in small towns don’t have photography studios anymore, and the quick 1 hour photo spots in the mall are gone too. So the question is, How do you find a photographer? Well, the truth is you can find a photographer anywhere you look. So the REAL question we have to ask is:
HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU?
To answer that, you need to know what type of photographer are you looking for. There are photographers that specialize in each of these genres: weddings, family portraits, maternity, senior portraits, newborns, pets, business portraits, and even real estate. You might even be lucky enough to find a photographer that does multiple genres. Then there is the difference between the photographers that shoot & burn, and the photographers that provide premium services as well as premium products. Having personally done all of the above . . . I can walk you through the differences of each type of photographer.
Let’s start with the “Shoot & Burn” Photographer. Typically, this is a photographer that is just starting out in the business. They are looking to get as many clients as possible to build their portfolio, website, and social media presence. They charge a minimum fee, show up to take your photos, and give you all the digital images they create. There is nothing wrong with choosing these photographers, but be sure to check out their work first. I was this photographer for years! Every photographer starts somewhere, and if their quality of work is not up to your standards, then quietly move on. Looking at my photos now, you would never recognize where I started! I have some friends that have followed my work since I first started, and they are just as blown away as I am when I look back to those early years. I am so incredibly thankful for all the people that let me practice on them. They helped me get to where I am now!
Let’s move on to the different types of photography. There is a reason you hire a Wedding Photographer for you wedding, and Pet Photographer to take portraits of your dog . . . and everything in between. Somewhere along the way, every photographer will find what they truly are passionate about photographing. For me, it’s High School Senior Portraits. For my cousin, it’s Weddings. Over they years I have seen Photographers the thrive in Newborns & Maternity, Families, and Landscapes. The list goes on and on, so let’s break it down a bit for easier understanding.
Keep in mind . . . this is just MY opinion from my own personal experience.
Wedding Photographers: These are people (usually a team of two or more) that are energetic and fun to be around. They work well in crowds, and can handle ‘herding cats’ so to speak (receptions can get kinda wild pending on the crowd). Photographically speaking, they do well with posing large numbers of people in a single photo, as well as individual portraits, and couples. They have a creativity that covers a wide span of photo possibilities. My personal favorite Wedding Photographer Team is Ignite Photography. Gwen & Steve are an amazing husband & wife team, and their work is absolutely gorgeous! Below are a few of my recent favorites of theirs.
Family Photographers: Go right along with wedding photographers, but add in and abundance of patience! These are people that also work well with kids of all ages, and understand that life is not always “picture perfect”. The crazy moments, crying moments, and temper tantrums that go along with having little kids is all part of the game, and they know how to handle it with grace. They also have a special way about them that puts the parents at ease! Case in point: below are my most resent family portraits taken on what started out as one of the worst days ever. Enter our incredible photographer, and all we have are wonderful, laughter filled memories and fabulous portraits.
Maternity & Newborn Photographers: I’m going to lump these two together, because they tend to go hand in hand. Though there are photographer that specialize in one or the other, most do both and might even have a “from bump to baby” package that you can purchase. These are people that know how to capture the passion between a couple, or a parent and brand new baby. They also tend to have a ton of props for you to use too: maternity dresses, baby blankets, flower crowns, etc. They understand how important timing is during these times in their clients lives. Babies, come when they are ready to, and not a moment before. Just as importantly, they know that the first few weeks of a newborns life is the best time to get those precious photos taken. Their schedules allow for some wiggle room with their clients, and they can walk you through how to get the very best photos possible. Newborn photographer (especially) have a gentleness about them, that eases a new momma as well as her baby.
Pet Photographers: Yes, there are those special people out there – no, I am not one of them! While I have been known to take pictures of pets, it’s usually been with a High School Senior as my main focus. Pet Photographers know how to bring out an animals personality in their photos. I have done it . . . but only with my own pets.
Real Estate/Architectural Photographers: These are the types of people you want to take photos of your house when you are trying to sell it. They know the right angles to make each room look bigger than it actually is! It’s truly magical!
Landscape Photographers: These tend to be people that don’t prefer people (faces) in their photographs. You’ll see tons of amazing scenery and maybe some shots of people from afar, but for the most part you are not going to see smiling faces. These are the the kind people that create some of the most beautiful artwork. Photos that you feel like you can walk right into them, feel the breeze on your face, and the ocean sounds in your ears. Oh how I wish I had this talent!
Finally, you have the photographers like me.
Senior Portrait Photographers: These are people that love working with individuals, in my case Teens & Tweens. They also have the ability to deal with emotional parents that are getting ready to send their teens out into the world. They have a creative mind that can envision each different session that each different High Schooler bring to a session. From an athlete to an artist; singers, dancers, and musicians; intellectuals; introverts & extroverts . . . and they know how to bring out each one’s personality. They have a way of making sure that each and every session in unique and individualized.
Business Photographers: Much like a Senior Portrait Photographer, these are people that work better one on one. They have a firm understanding of what looks best on a business page, and how to capture your business in an appealing way.
In each category, you’ll still find a variety of personality types, so do yourself a favor and stalk them for awhile (their work – not in a creepy, illegal sort of way). Look through their photos, their social media pages, and their websites. Get to know they type of photographer they are and, if you can, their personality. You want to be comfortable with your photographer – especially if you are not comfortable in front of a camera to begin with. A good photographer understands what it’s like to be in front of the camera and will put you at ease, making the whole experience fun and memorable.
Now, let’s get down to what happens at the end of your photo session. What do you want to come out with? Do you want grab all the digital images and go – possibly never seeing your photographer again. Or are you looking for someone that can help you find the right photos and products to decorate your home with?
This is the difference between a “shoot & burn” photographer, and a photographer like me.
Like I mentioned earlier – shoot & burners are typically just starting out and probably don’t know where to find those premium products you’re looking for. They might have another full time job (mine involved having 3 little ones at home with me all day). They might not have enough money coming in from their business to afford buying samples to see what’s available. If all you are looking for is the digital, great! Just be sure that you actually take those digitals and have prints made. I have had far to many clients in the past that never do anything with them, and that’s just makes me sad!
On the flip side, a photographer like me has been around for several years. I can help you every step of the way. From figuring out what to wear, so you look your best, to figuring out what products to use to display the images we create together. I have invested in countless hours in photography classes and training all in order to provide you with the best possible experience. Likewise, I have tested countless numbers of samples from several different professional labs, and know that quality counts. I have been in the homes of many different types of clients. I know not only what people like, but what looks good in their homes, and how to help them design a photo display that will best suit their style. I know that choosing photos is an emotional process, and I’m here to hold your hand through the whole process. You can read more about me, if you’re interested, but I’ll leave that up to you.
If you’re looking for a Senior Portrait Photographer like me, please feel free to contact me anytime! I’d be happy to walk you through that emotional last year of High School for your Senior! If you’re looking for another type of photographer mentioned above, I would be happy to direct you to the perfect one to suit your particular needs.
Whatever your photographic needs are, I hope you find the right fit with your photographer!