Wow…a recent search on Google of Northern Virginia Photographers brought up so many photographers even my head is spinning. I’d second guess my chosen profession except I know so many of these photographers are part time folks who find it easy to start a photography business because so many folks say they take great photos. But how do you find the photographer for YOU when there is so much out there?
Well, folks will tell you to find one that matches your style. But what is your style? Good question. Most folks don’t know. And honestly, I’m not patient enough to go through all those websites looking at every photograph and all those portfolios, and prices…my head would be spinning.
One piece of advice – really, the best I can give to folks shopping around a photographer – be SPECIFIC about what you want from your photographer. Find ones that show a LOT Of what you want – get a feel for their style in that area. If you want high school senior photography, find ones that have a web site dedicated to that – and ones that have backdrops, techniques, etc that accentuate what that market wants in the end result. Don’t find a jack of all trades photographer -because, honestly – who can be good at everything? Anyone that throws that much spaghetti against the wall is probably just…well, throwing spaghetti against the wall. Photographers are artists. They should connect with their subjects. Someone that specializes in weddings might not be the best children’s photographer for a 3 month old. At the same time, someone that specializes in children’s portraits may not connect well with the high school senior striving to look quite…grown up.
With so many folks picking up cameras and getting good shots on automatic settings, it’s almost impossible for consumers to find the photographers that are out there dedicating themselves to the art of photography as a full time business. But buyer beware…if your photographer is only doing this part time and has only been doing this a very short window of time…will they still be here in two years? Does that matter to you? Are they really a professional photographer or a part time hobbyist wanting to earn some extra money quickly? How much time have they spent developing their business? Is it really a business?
Your memories deserve the best – but more important, you don’t want to waste your time and not get what you want in the end. And in the end, you want a good photograph or you wouldn’t be hiring someone in the first place.
So my last tidbit to help you find a good photographer – look at their use of light. Even if they are an “on location” photographer (usually code for they don’t have a studio because it’s expensive to have space), ask about their lighting. If they bring studio lights, or professional portable flashes, great. Now look at their actual portfolio of samples in the area you want to hire them in – newborns, weddings, seniors, etc. Do you see good lighting? I mean look at the shadows, folks…lighting knowledge is in the shadows – where did the light get placed, how harsh was it, was it enough light, not enough light? The angle of it, etc. Photography is the study of light. Any photographer that doesn’t spend the time to understand light you should be concerned about. Because a nose shadow placed incorrectly…well, it isn’t pretty on some folks….
A family portrait without good light will have someone in shadow….and who wants to be the dark face in the back of the photograph?
Just things to think about folks….as you go out to search for a photographer – professional or hobbyist, know what you are getting and find one that can give you the results you want and not waste your time or money. After all, if you don’t like the result – does it matter if they were $10 cheaper, or even gave you the images on a CD really cheap? Are they images you’ll love, or just images you’ll have?