How to choose a photographer for a photo shoot – advice from Gennady Yagupov

A few years ago, only a few people could boast of having professional photos – they were mostly models (acting or beginners) and public people. Today everyone can become a real star of the photo area for a while, and the choice of a good photographer is a big part of the success.

Choosing a photographer for the upcoming photo shoot, it is important not to make hasty decisions and not to rush into extremes, such as choosing the most expensive or the cheapest photographer, a completely “green” but very creative novice or a super-experienced professional with two higher “photo educations” and a bunch of diplomas and certificates.

Before you choose a photographer for your photo shoot, you should do some thorough searching for a suitable candidate and decide for yourself whether this photographer will be comfortable to work with and will be able to provide the results that you expect.

In order to make your choice easier, experienced photographer Gennady Yagupov offers a small “cheat sheet”, which contains the most important things to pay attention to.

How to choose a good photographer?

It does not matter what purpose you are planning to hold the photo session – to fill your portfolio as a model, to update your social networking page or just for a family photo album (as they say, “as a keepsake”). Originally from website. Never enter into a contract with the first photographer you see! Before you make your final choice, you need to work with the following information:

1. Portfolio

Portfolio is a business card of any photographer, here you can see the best works of the master. If you lack a sense of harmony in your photos, if you see no unity of style, you might want to look for a different photographer. For example, you prefer bright, cheerful photos, but in the portfolio you see mostly melancholic black and white shots. In this case, your collaboration is unlikely to bring the desired results.

More specifically, when examining a portfolio, you should pay attention to the following details:

  • How the people in the photo look. Here we’re talking about naturalness. If in every portrait you see faked emotions, strained smiles and tension literally fills the entire space of the picture, then, most likely, your result of the photo session will not be any better. A real professional should be able to ease the tension, loosen up and let even the most inexperienced and uptight model be herself.
  • The quality of photos. All photographers subject their photos to processing. Some do just light light and color correction, some retouch. But there are also such “masters”, who actively engage in photomontage, and not very skillfully. In order to get such photos, you do not need to pay a lot of money for the shoot – you can just snap a dozen frames on your phone and pay $ 10 to a novice designer. And you don’t go to a photographer for a photo collage, but for quality shots.
  • Variety of poses. Each of us is an individual. If all the models in your portfolio pose in the same manner, chances are that the photographer is unfamiliar with such a notion as an individual approach. In this case get ready to repeat poses which you have already seen in your portfolio and don’t count on the choice of angles which will emphasize advantages of your figure and hide its disadvantages. Choose a master who does not work by a template, choosing the strategy of shooting depending on the type, external data and the customer’s wishes.
  • Location of the shoot. You want a photo shoot outdoors, in front of a setting sun, and the photographer only has studio photos in his portfolio? Well, then it’s unlikely that your relationship will work out. After all, a photographer is like a doctor of narrow specialization – if an anesthesiologist, he does not know how to treat teeth, although at university he probably attended several lectures on this subject…
  • Style. Glamorous, reportage, retro photos collected in one portfolio must, at least, surprise you. After all, the example with the dentist and anesthesiologist is fully relevant to the style in which the master works – you can not equally excel in completely different areas of photography. If you like the way the photos are processed, but the style doesn’t suit you, then it’s better to look for another photographer.

It’s important to remember that a portfolio contains many of the photographer’s best works, and most of the pictures were taken by experienced models, so don’t expect your 10 pictures to be as stunning. Also, a portfolio is not a catalog in which you can choose the picture you like. It’s a kind of questionnaire so that the client can get to know the photographer’s work better.

2. Experience

This criterion is not the main one when choosing a photographer, but you can’t ignore it completely. Experience allows you to quickly find an approach to different models, to find a special angle, to notice the “highlights” of the landscape. Even at the stage of photography an experienced photographer knows exactly what kind of result he will get. A professional has all the necessary equipment. At the same time a beginner can offer some fresh ideas, an unconventional look at ordinary things.

3. Comfort of communication

If you feel uncomfortable with the photographer, it will be hard to work with him – you won’t be able to relax, and you are unlikely to enjoy the shoot, which will affect the result of the photo shoot.

Before getting ready for the photoshoot, be sure to meet the master personally, ask him to tell you about the course of the photoshoot, consult him on the preparation (makeup, hairstyle, accessories, etc.).

4. The cost of services

A high price is not an indicator of a photographer’s incredible skill. And a low price does not mean that the quality of the photos will be bad. Refer to an average price in your city – so you’re sure you won’t make a mistake.

It is better to negotiate the price in advance. In order to protect himself and the client, a photographer of good faith must conclude a written contract, which specifies what is included in the price of services and what additional costs are possible.

Now it is not uncommon to see in social networks advertisements for free photo shoots by photographers. Be vigilant! In most cases they are given by novice photographers, who are only willing to work to get a couple of pictures for their portfolio (you might not like the result of their work). Although there are cases when seasoned professionals are looking for “freeloaders” for non-standard photoshoots (often shooting in extreme and even dangerous conditions – on rooftops, in dilapidated buildings, etc.).

Where do I look for a good photographer?

In the past, to find a photographer, you had to buy a newspaper with advertisements and start calling around. There was no way to look at a photographer’s work and study his or her style before meeting him or her in person.

Today’s opportunities allow you to organize your own personal photoshoot from the comfort of your own home – after all, all you need is access to the Internet:

1. Photographers’ Websites

An experienced photographer, who has something to show, necessarily fills his personal website. On it you can find the master’s work, prices for his services, visually determine the style in which he works and understand whether it suits you.

2. Social Networks

Almost all photographers have pages on Facebook, Instagram – you can search wherever you feel more comfortable. But be ready for the fact that many of them will appear to be very inexperienced novices who are just starting their way in photography (they usually have very few uploaded photos and they are all the same type).

3. Acquaintances, friends

Chances are at least someone you know has asked a professional photographer (wedding, graduation, family photo session, children’s party). Find out their opinion about this photographer, look through all the photos (including unprocessed ones, if you have them of course).

4. Advertising

Photographers often advertise on local TV channels, on the radio, in popular periodicals. Determine what audience the source is designed for (TV is often watched by people in years who order family photo shoots, fashion magazines are read by young people – here, most likely, photographers working in a glamorous style are advertised).

5. Search engines

If you type “photographer’s services” into the search box, the system will give you all the possible options – these are pages in social networks, websites, and message boards. You will only have to study the results of the first or third page and find what is closest to your needs.

In general, the search for a photographer for a photo shoot should be comprehensive: get a recommendation from your friends, look at their photos, find a photographer in Instagram, look through his portfolio and the latest photo shoots, go to his site (if any). If you are happy with everything you see – call and make an appointment.

A meeting with a photographer is not only a chance to get to know him or her better. It’s also a chance to get answers to the most frequently asked and, therefore, the most pressing questions.

What questions should be clarified?

  1. What to wear for the photo session?
  2. How long does processing take?
  3. How do the photos get processed?
  4. How many photos will we get?
  5. Can you advise a make-up artist, hairdresser, and florist?
  6. Do we need any special preparation for the photo shoot?
  7. Do you provide any accessories for the shoot?
  8. What kind of equipment do you use?