I am often asked how to select a photographer from the vast sea of camera owners now taking money from people. Photography is an industry that has been blessed and cursed by the prevalence of DSLRs, and seemingly, everyone is now a photographer. This makes it exceedingly difficult for the average client to choose. So, I thought that I would share my thoughts on how I would choose a photographer. I will say at the outset that if I were hiring a photographer I realize that I will be spending a good chunk of change, so this is a SERIOUS deal for me, and I want everything to be perfect. Therefore, my search practices will be very meticulous. Also, I am a professional photographer who has built a business based on education and knowledge, I want someone who is at least of the same caliber.
The first thing I would do is visit the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) website and search for member photographers in my area. I know that members of the PPA are dedicated to the continued education of their craft. PPA members are likely to be running a legitimate business, paying taxes, and hold a valid permit. I would start with any photographers who are CPP certified. Certified Professional Photographers have passed both a technical exam and an image submission showing that they are competent as a photographer. (I have not yet obtained this designation, but hope to in January!) I would hop on their websites. If I got a “Please wait…Loading” flash circle, if music started playing, or if it was not an independently hosted site, I would leave immediately, and go down the list. While perusing the websites, if anyone referred to themselves as a “tog” or “photog”, I would move on. I would be looking for images that speak to me, but that are also technically accurate. Sunflare in 70% of the images? Puke. Move on. I would read their blog to see if I connected with the photographer as a person. When I finally found someone who’s work I loved, I would email them. Their return email should be an invitation to meet in person or on the phone to discuss my session and the products I can choose from. At the consult, I would make sure I connect with the photographer, that she understands what I want, and that I know her pricing, and her policies concerning digital images. I would ask about the difference in outdoor and studio sessions. Is the photographer comfortable with studio lighting? If I liked everything, I would pay the session fee and schedule the date/time. I would then expect to be invited back after the session to view my proofs and have the photographer help me design my wall art.
This is the criteria I would use, and how I suggest anyone wanting a high-end professional photographer go about their search. However, in Little Rock, I already know whom I’d choose and recommend.