5 Mistakes to Avoid when Hiring a Senior Portrait Photographer

May 07, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

There are many photographers to choose from so why waste money on a bad one?  Worse yet, why hire one at all, if they can't guarantee that the images will still be around in 20 or 30 years.  So, here are 5 things to AVOID when selecting a high school senior photographer.  

#1.  Hiring an amateur.  Many people with a smart phone or low end digital camera claim to be photographers.  All it takes is a flexible right index finger (or a left index finger, if your'e left handed).  But what do they know about lighting, composition, and posing?   I've had countless customers come to me and ask me to reshoot their high school photos because they didn't like the way they turned out.  In nearly every case, the client trusted an amateur photographer to take their photographs.  So, how do you avoid this?  Looking at someone's website is not always the best way.  Even amateur photographers will get a lucky shot for their portfolio every now and then.  But can they produce consistent quality?  The best way to winnow out the amateurs is to select a photographer who is certified by the Professional Photographers of America.  Another way to make sure you have a professional is to ask them what type of lighting equipment they use. Most professional photographers use strobes with modifiers.  Amateur photographers may not use any lighting equipment or may use on-camera flash, which does not look professional.  

#2.  Asking for your images on a thumb drive.  Many of you have likely seen the old high school photos showing solidarity for the 2020 graduating class that will be cheated out of prom and graduation.  Just think, 20 or 30 years from now will those digital images stored on your thumb drive still be around?  Heck, will your thumb drive still be around?  Really, there are only two kinds of digital media storage systems.  Those that have failed and those that will eventually fail.  Some will say, "But the images are in the cloud."  I don't know about you, but I can't remember all of my many passwords on any given day.  I'm sure I'm not going to remember them decades from now.   So, let's say you take your thumb drive to your nearby box store to have prints made of your favorite image.  Unless, the box store has calibrated their printer to the photographers monitor there's a good chance there will be a serious color shift.  Even if everything looks good now, there is still no guarantee that they will still look good in 20 or 30 years.  Why? Because the box store is likely using photo paper that they buy in massive quantities.  It probably doesn't have acid free substrates and it might even use something called optical brightening agents (see previous blog).  That basically means that in 20 or 30 years you might have to pay a photo restoration expert a lot of money to reconstruct your high school photo that you had the box store print for you because it was "cheaper" than having a professional do it right the first time.  Finally, if a photographer is willing to give you images on a thumb drive, you can assume that they are an amateur--which goes back to the #1 thing to AVOID.  

#3.  Using a photographer because all of your friends use them.  There are photography companies out there that are marketing machines.  They have high overhead and they rely on bringing in a lot of clients.  Yes, they may have really cool dioramas or whatever in their studio, but because you're just a number, your high school photos will basically look like your friends.  So, 20 years from now (provided you avoided #1 and #2) you and your friends can compare your high school pictures in front of the same potted plant.  I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea.   

#4.   Using a photographer because your parents used them.  Don't get me wrong, there are family traditions that are worthy of keeping.  Using the same photographer for your high school photos is not one them.    Enough said.  

#5.  Picking a photographer solely on the basis of price.  Don't get me wrong.   As consumers it is important that you do research and make decisions based on price and quality. First, look at their image gallery.  Look at the images that were shot in the studio as well as those shot on location--often called environmental portraits.  Look at lighting--was it flat lighting, like you would see from an on-camera flash, or did the photographer use more professional lighting than showed transitions from light to shadow.   Look at the posing.  Do the images look like something in a fashion magazine or a mug shot?  Are  poles protruding from heads or is the background non-distracting.   Look at the photographer's credentials.   Are they certified, or better yet, a Master?  Are they full time photographers?  Or are they hobbyists?  Do they have a studio or are they "natural light" photographers.  Only after you've narrowed down the list based on quality should you start comparing prices.   Whatever you do, don't ask them how much an 8x10 costs.  Have an idea in your mind what you might order.  Factor in the session fee and the price list that best matches your envisioned order.  Many professional photographers don't publish their price list, but should be willing to provide it to you on request.  If not, watch out for the bait and switch.   

Learn more about Bohemian Photoworks Seniors so you can avoid all of these mistakes.  

 

 


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