Avoid Disaster - Top 5 Things to Check On Your Family Photographer + 1 Thing That Doesn't Matter
With photography an unregulated industry, how can you know that the photographer you choose to capture your family photos is going to do a great job for you?
When engaging with a photographer you are entering into approximately 2 months+ of communication and investment of time and money. If you really love your experience they will become your family photographer for life.
Booking a photographer is often triggered by a major life milestone such as a wedding or a new baby, fleeting days that are so important to document for your family, so you want to be comfortable and confident that your photographer is going to be amazing!
So where do you even start with the research? Well step right this way - here are five very important things to check for when engaging a professional photographer:
1) THE AIPP
The AIPP is the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers. It's a great place to search for a professional photographer who follows the ethical guidelines set by the institute. Personally, I am currently an Associate in the AIPP and aim to gain my Masters in the next 1-2 years. All accredited professional photographers have submitted a portfolio of images that are assessed by Master Photographers for image quality. We also submit our business outlines and follow a published code of conduct. We can gain higher accreditations such as Associate and Master Photographer by entering awards and gaining points over time towards those achievements. The AIPP does not allow a photographer of disrepute in the association.
Google reviews, Facebook reviews, Findaphotographer.com.au reviews, anywhere you can see what people have to say about a business, read up before you book. If there are no reviews or reviews have been turned off, it can be a red flag, give them a miss or do more research as to why. See if the photographer replies to reviews. Its always good to see what people say about a business on a public platform. Also remember to check the dates of the reviews to know how relevant they may be today.
Word-of-mouth is also one of the most timeless methods of trust when choosing a business to engage with so ask your friends and family if they have any referrals. These days there are also the good old Facebook group posts where one person asks for a referral and everyone jumps in to pipe their own horn. Safety in numbers is a good way to go. Lots of people advising the same thing is usually a sign of a reputable business.
3) WEBSITE AND INFORMATION
A professional photographer will always have a website and not just social media pages. Consider if the website is helpful or does it just show a few images. A big one to check is that their pricing is clear and easy to obtain. Always know the full price list before booking your shoot, that way there are no nasty surprises when it comes to viewing and ordering your package. There are many stories of people signing up with a photographer only to receive the full pricing after the photos have been taken and they realise its not what they were prepared to invest. You should not have to work hard to find the answers to the questions:
WHO is the photographer?
WHAT is their photography genre and style?
WHERE is there studio?
WHEN do I need to book?
HOW much will I likely spend?"
4) WHAT IS THEIR COMMUNICATION LIKE
If your photographer is slow to reply to emails, text messages or won't answer a phone call, these are red flags that your experience with them may be a bumpy one. If you are signing up for a few months of connection with this business you want to know that it will be easy to communicate with them. Also, is their language professional or overly casual? A professional business is more likely a well-oiled-machine with standardised time frames and consistent client experiences, a casual "hey hon!" communication style might indicate a hobby-level business who is still finding their rhythm in delivering consistent timelines and quality images/products.
5) IS THEIR IMAGERY CONSISTENT
Be wary of any photographer showing inconsistent quality and style of images. If there is a large variation in a short timeframe it could be an indication of a photographer using someone else's images "as inspiration of what they can create for you" or that they may have photographed the images themselves at a workshop with a more experienced photographer doing all the lighting, posing and telling them what settings to use on their camera. Images on the website and social media should always be consistent, you want to know that they can recreate those image styles for your family every time like clockwork.
..... And that one thing that doesn't matter?
1) BIG SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES
Big numbers of followers doesn't indicate a quality experience or reputable business. Likes and followers can be bought or manipulated with "follow to enter" competitions. So while lots of followers can indicate a business that is popular and established, treat social media without a bit of caution.
Last year I put together a PDF of the Five Big Mistakes people make when choosing a photographer, this free download will show you how to avoid them so you can enjoy your photos, products and experience.
Avoid disappointments and regrets
Family Photographer Brisbane | Newborn Photographer Brisbane