WOW! When I looked this morning, there were almost a dozen ads for photographers or photography services listed on CL. This doesn't even count the studios and independents you'll find if you search the subject. How are you supposed to pick the “right” one? Well, price is important but it shouldn’t be the only criteria. Remember, you get what you pay for. Anyone wanting to do Time for Prints is probably a novice trying to build a portfolio. Hey...not that that’s a bad thing...we were all beginners at one point. And they all need a chance to get started, learn and make good. Sometimes a new model or a unique idea warrants TFP just to see if it all works. But the novice will take a zillion shots and then pick a few that came out right. The professional will get it right, in the camera, the first time. Ask your potential photographer what their percentage of “keepers” is. Anything below 30% is taking up a lot of time for both you and the photographer.
Equipment is important. I see people walking around events and studios crammed with thousands of dollars of the latest, greatest equipment. Does all that make them good? No...it might increase their chances of taking a good shot but then I’ve seen some very good, dynamic images taken with an iPhone. The camera is just a tool. The photographer is the eye...and the heart...behind the view finder making you look fantastic! If Freddy Fotog has to change lens or camera body every time he moves 10’, then I submit that they do not know their equipment or their profession. Now, I’m not talking about back-up equipment here. Any pro will have extra this and that with them. If they don’t, then they are either very lucky or they don’t know or care enough to insure success. So...ask about their equipment...and have them explain why and what in terms you can understand. Just telling you “...it’s the best camera there is and has 40 zillion megapixels...” isn’t going to get it.
Computer enhancement - I love it when I hear Freddy say “Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up in the computer.” Uhmmmmmmmm...did you hire a photographer or a graphic artist? Here’s a clue...almost all pros will shoot in RAW format. Ask them if they are shooting RAW or jpeg. RAW REQUIRES some post production work at the computer. But blown out highlights, poor depth of field, out of focus, etc. can’t be fixed easily if at all. That’s why Freddy takes literally hundreds of shots. He’s bound to get a few right. Then there’s the portrait that looks like a plastic dummy. OK...I get it...you don’t want that blemish to show and maybe a wrinkle or two could get softened but do you really want to look like a wax museum mannequin?
Does your potential hire provide a contract and a model release? Neither are a “requirement”. Both are good business. Did you get a blanket per hour quote or, worse, a flat fee or did Freddy ask for detail? Photo shoots take time! Post production takes time! Are you looking for location or studio shots? Travel? Dangerous or difficult location? Most important, is Freddy LISTENING to you? Is he professional, clean, discrete and communicating with you? What about “in the box” shots or is he at least a bit creative without being ridiculous? Do you get a sense, a feeling, that they really know what they’re doing and talking about? Look, modeling can be a bit of hard work but it should be fun, not a “hurry in, hurry out” production grind.
Is Freddy insured? Belong to any professional associations? Again, neither makes a professional but it does show interest and commitment. Can you look at a portfolio? How about a few references? A guarantee of satisfaction? What about a makeup artist, lighting person, backup photographer? Sure, all these things will not be necessary and will add to your cost but do you want that once-in-a-lifetime event blown because a memory chip failed?
Well...good luck. Flagstaff is loaded with some very good people. You're going to have to do bit of homework. I hope you'll consider my services for your portrait or event. I’ll probably catch a ton of flack over posting this but I can live with it. Eyes Wide Open and Caveat Emptor!