Finding a Good Photographer

There is no shortage of photographers in Coeur d'Alene or elsewhere in the region. But when you're looking for someone to shoot photos, how do you tell which one is right for you?

The first step in finding the right photographer is to narrow your search down to a few. Ask some friends, look at website and flickr galleries, and see which ones are most like what you are looking for. Some photographers do any kind of photography, others might prefer to take one type of photos over another. You don't want to ask someone who is only interested in shooting wedding pictures if he or she would like to shoot your senior portraits! So this is another way to narrow your search.

James Christian, model - Photo by 29k Productions, LLC

After you have narrowed your photographer selection to those who are local to you, whose style you enjoy, and who do the type of photography you need, it's time to make contact! When a photographer is out on a shoot, he or she may be working with clients for hours at a time, making it inconvenient to take calls, which not only interrupt the photographer's time with the client, but also make any conversation you do have with the photographer less comfortable than an arranged call time or in-person meeting. By far, one of the best ways to get ahold of a photographer these days is through email. You will get a true sense of the individual's professionalism through the response, as well as having a permanent email record of the conversation so you can more easily compare prices and judge responses to your questions. It is a good idea to get in touch with at least three photographers through email so you can discuss your exact needs.

Although artstic merits should be at the top of your list, it is also important to consider the use of your photos and how much it will cost you to use them the way you want to. Is the photographer going to require you to come back for new prints every time you want prints? Will the photographer give you files so you can post your new pictures on Facebook? Does the photographer keep backups of the files or negatives? How securely? Does the photographer charge extra for these services? These are important considerations as you are narrowing your list of potential photographers.

Boy playing guitar - by 29k Productions, LLC

Another important aspect is how far your photographer will travel. (I'm going to be a little area-centric here). If you're in Hayden and you hire a photographer from Spokane, will you be made responsible for travel fees? What if you are having your wedding on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, but you've hired a Coeur d'Alene photographer? Always keep an eye out for the details and any add-on costs.

After you have narrowed your choice down to just two or three photographers, it's time to have an in-person meeting! Sit down with each photographer individually over coffee or lunch, and discuss the details of what you are looking for. Professional photos are a big investment, and you want to ensure your money is spent in the best possible way. During the meeting, talk to the photographer about other jobs he or she has done that are similar to yours. Ask about his or her experiences with those and what he or she liked/disliked about those jobs. Try to ask open-ended questions that require more explanation than a simple yes or no. "What was your favorite wedding to do photos at?" is a much better question than "Do you like to shoot weddings?" With good questions you will get a feel for whether the photographer views him or herself as strictly a portrait photographer, or someone who tells a story through a photojournalistic style.

Wedding party in kilts - by 29k Productions, LLC

Your meeting will also give you a chance to judge how you feel about each photographer personally. You may feel like one photographer meshes with your personality better than another, or that one is more willing to put more heart into your photos than another. You should also think back on your previous conversations with each photographer to consider whether this is a person who is merely out for money, or someone who feels strongly passionate about the work itself.

By working through this process, you will be able to determine which photographer works best for you. The perfect photographer for one person will be disastrous for another.

Checklist

  • Check online and with family & friends
  • Look through the photo galleries
  • Contact several photographers
  • Ask questions. Lots of questions!
  • Eliminate those who are out of your price range or behave unprofessionally
  • Narrow your list to 2-3 photographers
  • Meet personally with these photographers
  • Ask more questions
  • Hire the best photographer for you

Baby girl - by 29k Productions, LLC

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