What to look for in a photographer? Its just a snap of the camera, right?
Jul 28, 2018 | By: Katelynn LaGrone
I am going to use this blog opportunity to provide a little insight into what to look for in a photographer, as well as to address some common public misconceptions in relation to photography. This day-in-age, there are "photographers" everywhere you look. Each photographer has a different style. Some like the blurred/creamy backgrounds, some don't. Some light darker images, some like light and creamy. I myself am somewhere in between as I like to keep the lighting as close to what it was naturally seen by my eye during the session. So how can you pick out the great ones, from ones that may not be worth the deal? What makes the great ones stand out, and what makes a reputable photographer? I could go on and on for days on this topic, so I will try to limit myself. I understand that each photographer has to start somewhere and needs the support of the public in order to build their business. I will be the first to admit that my work wasn't the greatest at the beginning, and that I had a lot to learn. There is still more I have yet to learn also!
Firstly, and most importantly, you want to find a legal photographer. I can't stress this enough. So what makes a photographer legal? A common misconception among the public as well as new photographers is that even if you are a "hobbyist" that taxes are not applied to the session cost, thus making it more affordable? Incorrect, even if you are a hobbyist, you are still required by law to pay taxes (which is generally around 40%). There is nothing more that irritates me then when a business doesn't pay their due taxes while every other hard working American does. Another thing to look for is if they are registered as a legal business, as well as if they carry business insurance. Why is business insurance important? Well, what if you hired a beginner newborn photographer and you are trusting them to take the best care of the most important thing in your life. That "bucket" image that you commonly see, well what if your baby is not properly protected, and God forbid something happens? Or what if you are on an outdoor session, and the photographer wants to get "the shot" and encourages you to go walk out on the rocks and something happens, like a fall? You want to be covered legally. Secondly, another common misconception is the "it's just snap of the camera, why is it so expensive?" type of comments. A reputable photographer has spent countless hours and/or money educating themselves on their equipment, as well as the best poses, lighting, editing, and safety techniques. There is so much more that goes into an image than most people think. I will touch on a few of these. So, what are some things that may go into a photographers price structure? This list could be a mile long, so I will try to limit myself. As I stated before, taxes, insurance, and other legal fees play a big component. Equipment is also a big one and can be anything from camera/lenses, website domains, to computers and editing software and cost of products such as prints. If the photographer owns a studio, that is another potential big factor as the photographer has to pay rent and utilities in order to run their business. And of course, the photographer needs to be able to put a roof over their head and food on the table. So as with any profession, they deserve to be paid for their time. Unfortunately a passion for photography and "exposure" doesn't provide enough to be able to pay for their cost of living. Something I have heard from customers is "why should I have to pay so much for your tangible items such as your camera, lenses, etc?". Well first off, these items are required to be able to provide services, correct? As with any business, in order to be able to run a business, you have to be able to have the associated equipment. For instance the cell phone bill you pay each month, you are paying for the cell phone towers, wages of customer service personnel, the cost of making the phone, etc. Another thing that people don't understand is camera and lenses is like the car you drive on a daily basis. With a car, each mile you put on your vehicle depreciates the overall value. Well, similarly with a camera, each click you make depreciates the value because you are putting wear and tear on the camera and lens. How much time could possibly go into a 1 hour session? I will do a rough breakdown example. Before each session there is hours upon hours of prep work that can include: communication with the client regarding their visions, traveling to the location, setting up and props or backgrounds, etc. After the session, again there could be hours spent on editing, along with time spent ordering prints and mailing products. A one hour session can easily total 10-15 hours when everything is all said and done.
So as a client, as well as any beginner photographers out there, please take all of these things into consideration. I understand that as a client or a beginner photographer, that you want to be able to get (or provide) good deals on service, but please don't undervalue the product. If you are looking for a legal business, and good quality products, please don't expect to pay $50 (example value) for an hour session with all included images. I apologize in advance if I step on any toes, I just thought that this would be a good opportunity to educate the general public as well as beginner photographers as to what all goes into the photography business. Please feel free to comment any questions or comments you may have. For fun, I have added a recent photo, and photo from when I first started 2.5 years ago to see the difference! Notice how the subjects in the first photos are better posed, nicely in focus, and the background is nice and blurred/creamy (more desirable to me), than compared to the photo on the right? Cheers! :)