Questions You Might Ask Before Hiring a Photographer

Here’s the scenario: You’re planning a big event; could be a wedding, graduation, family reunion, you name it.  It’s big and requires a ton of resources and coordination.


You’ve reserved the space, purchased the decorations, hired the caterer, made plans to interview a few DJs and sent notifications to everyone you want to attend.  You think you’ve dotted all the “i”s and crossed all the “t”s, then it dawns on you, “Who will photograph this event!”


You start to scramble and rack your brain trying to think of someone who has a camera.  You call Uncle Joe, but Unc broke his camera two years ago and can’t help. You “IM” cousin Tony, but he’s out of town that week and can’t make the event. You decide you’ll do it yourself, but the only camera you have is on your cell phone.  Awwwwwwhhhhhh!


After pulling your hair out and crying hysterically for two hours straight you finally come to your senses and decide to hire a photographer.  But where do you start and who can you trust to do a good job?


Well, I’m here to help.  No, not because I’m a photographer and want your business.  I do, but that’s not what this is about.  This post is to help you weed out the pretenders from the contenders. 


So let’s get started.  Here’s a list of questions you might want to ask before hiring a photographer for your event:


Is he/she insured?

If the answer is “yes,” ask as many questions as you like to determine if the relationship is right for you. If the answer is “no,” however, do not pass GO! Find another photographer. What happens if you hire a friend of a friend and he trips, injuring himself or breaks his brand new camera? When facing large medical bills, people sue easily! You need to be protected.


Does he/she present themselves as a professional?

You don’t want a photographer showing up to your event looking out of place. A good photographer blends in and becomes part of the scenery. Someone who stands out will make guests uncomfortable. You want someone who has enough sense to show up dressed properly for the event they are covering. So make sure you ask about their attire.


Has he/she done a photo shoot like this before?

While it’s OK to hire a generalist rather than a specialist, make sure the photographer has a background in the type of work you want done. No matter how talented the photographer, there is no substitute for experience.


Do you like his/her portfolio?

Even when a photographer has a strong reputation, if you do not like their portfolio you will probably not like the work they do. The photographer has a certain style that has been developed over the years, which is reflected in their portfolio. Asking for a radically different style is a recipe for disaster. Can a capable photographer attempt to replicate any image you show them? Yes. Will it be as good as when the photographer shoots their preferred style? No.


Does he/she ask you questions that illustrate their preparedness?

A good photographer will usually ask you as many questions as you ask them. They should query you about the venue, the type of shoot, the kind of photographs you’re looking for. They should ask to scout the location if they aren’t already familiar with the area. If the event is outside, they should be concerned about sunlight or available light at the location at the chosen time of day, among other issues.


Does he/she emphasize getting the shot right — or their post-processing prowess instead?

Many photographers brush off legitimate concerns about a shoot by saying they can “fix it in post-processing.” The reality is, nothing can replace getting the image right at capture. Can the photographer deliver images that are color correct, with the background not shifting to a weird color cast or being totally black? Can they deliver images where the whites are not blown or the blacks blocked up? Probe them on their technical expertise to find out.


Does he/she have the proper equipment?

Does the photographer have backup cameras in the event one camera breaks? Do they have the necessary lighting equipment to get the look you need? Do they carry extra batteries and memory cards? What’s their backup plan if something goes wrong? Don’t be afraid to ask.


Do his/her references check out?

First of all, make sure they have references. And not just any references — clients who have hired them to do similar assignments. Then, call those references and ask questions: Were they happy with the work? Was it delivered on time? Were they prompt and courteous? Were they reliable, even when facing unexpected difficulties? Would they hire the photographer again?


Can you afford the price?

While we all operate within budgets, a photographer’s price doesn’t matter until you know they can get the job done. Then, hire the best photographer you can afford. In many cases when clients hire photographers, they are asking them to capture moments that will never take place again. Don’t shortchange yourself by hiring someone you’re not sure about.


Are you comfortable with him/her?

He/she can be a winner on all the previous questions, but if they give you the creeps, keep looking. You want to make sure you’re comfortable with whoever you hire and no matter how qualified, if they make you uncomfortable by something they say, or do, or how they look, you’ll be better served looking elsewhere.


Does he/she provide any additional services?

Some photographers may provide additional specialized services. These services may include retouching, for removing blemishes or altering images; restoration, which can help preserve memories from past generations; and custom framing, to make your portrait look its best if you decide to frame it. Make sure you ask what other services are available.


Once you’ve hired a photographer, they should take the time to talk to you about your family and their favorite activities, as well as offer suggestions on locations and other pertinent details. The photographer will use this information to create images that tells your family’s unique story.


Contact Us if you have an event in mind.  We’ll be happy to help make it memorable.