How to Choose the Right Photographer for Your Event
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Published by TOP4 Team
Whether it's your wedding, your child's seventh birthday, your parents' golden wedding anniversary or your best friend's baby shower that's coming up, you're sure to want stunning, wellcomposed photographs that capture the beauty, joy, tenderness and humour of the special day's moments. Several years into the future, these photographs can help transport you back to those very scenes and help you remember details that you may have forgotten as time passed — and the sharper and more cleverly angled the pictures are, the more vivid and detailed the stories they tell will be.
With so many people owning sophisticated cameras of their own in their pursuit of a creative hobby, you might think that every single one of them has the technical skills and the instinctive eye for capturing excellent photographs. However, you'll need to keep in mind that this isn't always the case. Some photography enthusiasts are just that: enthusiasts and hobbyists. It doesn't always mean that they have the chops to successfully document a special event.
So before you begin to consider hiring just any relative or friend to take the official event photos, it's best to direct your focus toward the real deal — expert photographers with years of experience in covering the most special events in a person's life.
So how do you go about choosing the best photographer for your event? Here are a few questions that you need to ask the professional photographers in your shortlist of people to consider for the job:
1. Do you have an extensive background on the kind of event photography I need? You'll want a photographer who knows how to work a wedding, for example, if that's what you need him to do — he'll know how to take photos of all the guests, capture the best angles of the bride and groom, and even immortalise especially poignant moments that are not rehearsed or posed in any way. If you need photos for your business website, on the other hand, he has to know how to take formal photographs of the CEO and his staff, of events to be used in press releases, and of the corporate facilities for the website.
2. Can we see your portfolio? Any photographer worth his salt will be carefully collecting samples of his best works to show to potential clients and help them decide if he has the vision and style that they seek. They should be able to provide this readily, either in hard copy or online for the client's convenience.
3. What are your qualifications? It's best to learn about the photographer's training background and any accreditations or memberships with established photography associations so you'll know that you're working with someone who adheres to accepted standards and codes of ethics.
4. How do you prepare for a job? Photography requires specialist equipment, which are often at risk of breaking down or being forgotten in the flurry of activity, so you want to be sure that the person you hire is in complete control and prepared for every contingency. Ask if they have backup equipment, a means for backing up their files, and what their plan B would be in the event that they have an emergency and fail to show up for your event.
5. How many hours will you be covering the event? Have a clear agreement as to the duration of the photographer's services as this will affect pricing.
6. In what formats will you provide the photographs and what services are included in the packages offered? You have to be clear about whether you want hard copies in different sizes, photos saved in CDs or DVDs, framed wall prints or full photo albums (check what formats the photographer can provide). Also, enquire if photo editing is included in the price and what the waiting time will be for your orders.
7. Are you open to suggestions? While the photographer is the expert, you may want to share your ideas regarding how you want the photos to look and it would be great if the person you hire will listen carefully to what you have to say, agree on workable aspects and offer compromises for requests that may be more difficult or impossible to carry out, and be accommodating throughout the entire process of discussing the details.
8. Can I ask for references? Ask for contact information of their previous clients so you can get their feedback on the photographer's conduct during the event, his ability to deliver the promised results, his fairness with the pricing, and his overall work ethic and commitment to providing satisfactory work.
9. Can you give me a better deal than the competition? Comparing quotations from different photographers is customary since clients want to get the best value for their money. Show the photographer any information you find if another photographer offers lower rates for similar services or better packages, and see if he is open to amending the final figure so that you both arrive at a deal that is agreeable to both parties.
10. Can we put all of this in writing? It's best to protect your investment in high-quality photos by getting all the details and terms of your purchased package into a written contract. That way, you can be sure that everything is in order and that you have a record of the type and level of service that you expect to receive.