Deciding on a professional photographer for your special event can be very stressful and unpleasant, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you are the host or the event planner, the last thing you want to be doing during your special event is running around taking photos! You'd be all over the place with your phone, trying to chase special moments, snapping pictures of smiles & conversations, all while trying to connect with your guests. It’s impossible! That is why we have put together 5 tips for hiring a professional event photographer!
1. Learn about the photographer's style. A client should decide on the photographic style they like best for their event. Do you prefer an artistic, photo journalistic style (candid shots) with a natural look? Or do you like a more posed look, formal and traditional photos? Also, always ask for the photographer's references or read over the reviews from other clients - it can give you some helpful insight into the photographer's professionalism and personality.
2. Get to know their personality. This is something a lot of people forget to consider until after an event and normally due to a bad experience. Always consider whether or not the photographer will mesh well w/ your personality and your guests will feel completely comfortable with them as well. Some photographers can take great photos, but are they personable? Do they exercise the proper etiquette when working an event? A client should always feel at ease to ask questions or make requests. A client should also look at photos from an previous event, not just a few samples. Most people can shoot a few key shots but can they shoot an entire event well from start to finish? So, go ahead and meet up & grab some coffee with your photographer to get to know them, or even a nice conversation over the phone may suffice.
3. Ask many, many questions. There are several questions you should ask any photographer you are considering. Here are a few of the most important questions you should ask:
- Will they be photographing the event themselves or will it be an associate?
- It's important you hire the photographer who's work you admired.
- How many events (similar to the one being considered for) have they photographed before?
- You want to make sure they have experience for what you're hiring them for.
- Is photography their full time profession or is this a side job / hobby?
- A hobbyist may not be prepared or be able to handle the job like a professional.
- Do they have backup equipment?
- Backup gear is essential for when Murphey's Law strikes and to provide continued coverage.
- Are they a member of any professional associations, such as the PPA? (Professional Photographers of America)
- Photographers who are members of professional organizations typically have a code of ethics and standards to follow as professionals.
- How many years have they been a professional photographer? (Meaning this is their primary source of income)
- Professionals will normally go above and beyond to please their clients where a hobbyist might not be as concerned because they have other sources of income.
- What are the turnaround times for delivery of images/products?
- Setting expectations is key. You need to know when you can expect to see your images.
- Are the images retouched or edited at all?
- Again, setting expectations- Are you receiving a polished product or do you have to pay extra for editing and retouching?
4. Discuss the fine print. We also advise asking a photographer if they have a proper business license and if they carry professional liability insurance. You will find that many `freelance' photographers are not licensed or insured properly. Be sure to ask about copyrights and usage of the images created. (Licensing is an entirely different subject all together, but it is good to ask about it so you are aware of the kind of usage you're allowed with the images.) Ask any questions you may have about payment schedules, cancellations, rescheduling and refunds of retainers.
5. The photographer should ask questions too! The photographer you are considering should also have plenty of questions for you, the client. A photographer should ask what the client's vision is for the images and what kind of usage they intend on needing. They should also ask questions about event timeline - getting information on all of the basic details like starting time and location(s).
Once you have found a photographer that you are seriously interested in we suggest that you ask yourself three questions before you proceed to booking:
- Images & Branding - Does the photographer have quality images that represents my vision for my special event?
- Intangibles - Is the photographer well-presented, is he punctual, does he have good references, is he/she personable?
- Professional or Hobbyist - Will the photographer know what to do in tough situations? A professional should know, while a hobbyist is still learning. So you will have to ask yourself, "How important will these images be and can I risk it if the photographer screws them up?"
If you are comfortable with your answers to these questions - and you have done all your research, then you should feel confident in your choice of photographer. It should go without saying, you should always try and find a professional within your given budget. However, if you decide on a photographer solely based on price alone, then 8 out of 10 times you will most likely be disappointed. Professional photographers are expensive for a reason, we should never over look the value they provide all of us through the images they capture and create for us.
We hope you enjoyed and learned something from our "5 tips for hiring an event photographer". If you have any upcoming special events, Anthony Johnson Photography would love to be considered as your premier event photography studio.
What other tips do you have for hiring an event photographer for an event? Share your thoughts in the comments below.