As a follow up to my "Lighting Liberation" blog post, I want to provide a little more background into what goes into creating gorgeous photographs. With the proliferation of high quality consumer cameras and even cell phones, many people are questioning why they should bother to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a photographer. But the photographer's job begins well before we start shooting and lasts for many hours (usually days) afterward. When you hire a photographer, you are not only making use of their expensive cameras, lenses, lights, etc., but you are also utilizing their (hopefully) exceptional understanding of composition, lighting, retouching, etc. You are also hiring their unique style and personality, so be sure that you have seen a wide variety of a photographer's work, dig their style, and read lots of glowing reviews before you book your shoot! Also, if you love a photographer's style but don't think they shoot your subject matter, ask! I primarily have art portraits on my site, but bring my same unique style to product, wedding, family, event, etc. photography. :) Just don't forget to ask for multiple examples!
When I'm on a shoot, I'm relaxed, personable, fun, empathetic and professional. I always work within the comfort level of my client(s) and believe strongly in helping the client to be as comfortable as possible (does anyone look their best when they're stiff and feeling awkward?). To this end, there's typically a lot of dancing and laughing at my shoots. :) In addition to setting the right mood, though, you want a photographer who's intuitive enough to capture the best shots and to direct you effectively (if necessary) to maximize the potential for awesome images where you look your absolute best. Again, read online reviews, and don't be afraid to ask for references. Also, if you're interested in hiring a professional hair/makeup artist for the shoot, don't hesitate to ask your photographer for recommendations; the right team can really make a shoot!
As you can see in the above before-and-after, even when you begin with a beautiful model and great hair and makeup artists, retouching is an invaluable part of the process. Before hiring a photographer, verify that you will be receiving retouched photos, and clarify what the selection process will be for deciding which images will be retouched. If a photographer is offering to send you all of the images from your shoot, it's a good indication that you will simply be receiving the images "straight out of camera", like the "before" image above. It's also important to determine how you will receive your images; will you receive image files and if so, will you have the right to print the photos and post them to social media (only high resolution files are appropriate for printing), and does the photographer offer printing services if need be? Will the image files be watermarked with the photographer's logo, will the photographer retain all files and require that you purchase all prints through them, etc.? I tend to show my clients the unretouched photos from our shoot and let them choose the images they would like for me to retouch, and then I deliver the non-watermarked, high resolution, retouched image files with the right to print and post the images for personal use, and I also offer to print the images professionally (at an additional cost). Feel free, too, to ask when you should expect to receive the images; receiving holiday portraits in January won't be very useful!
Regardless of your photographic needs, choosing the right professional photographer will be worth far more than whatever the upfront cost may be. Whether you need professional headshots that stand out from the crowd, enticing and eye-catching product shots, or simply want stunning images to treasure forever, hiring the right photographer for you is always the right move. :)