What is it going to cost me?

We have all probably had an experience from our youth about hiring a photographer to capture Senior Portraits or other portraits. Times have changed dramatically since then. In a world where social media is common and millions of selfies are taken daily, how does one choose a photographer?

  • What do I need to budget? 
  • How do I evaluate qualifications? 
  • How can I tell a good photographer from a “no-so-good” photographer?

Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room. Budget. No one wants to talk about it, but it is a key factor in who you will be able to hire. There is a huge difference in the quality, professionalism, and overall experience of a photographer on the low-end charging $100-200, a photographer that charges $1500, and a high-end experience that may be $10K or more. 

If all you’re looking for is a few quick snaps, then you may want to work with someone who offers a no-frills kind of deal. Remember, you get what you pay for. There is likely a reason that the photographer is on the lower end of the range. Photographers who charge a lower fee may be new. They may be a hobbyist. They may be inexperienced. Typically, these photographers offer a select few locations and have a handful of typical poses they use. This can seem a bit cookie-cutter.  

Photographers that charge upwards of $1500 or more, will have different quality of equipment, accessories, and lighting. They will likely also have an assistant that helps improve the experience and elevates the convenience.  They likely will be credentialed--meaning they have numerous awards, and are likely a Certified Professional Photographer or Master Photographer. Photographers who charge more will also custom design a session that is exclusive for you. They’ll consult and collaborate with you to design a session that fits your personality, interests, and your future goals. 

Light matters in photography. Light impacts where a shadow falls on the subject. You don’t want the shadow to fall on the face or the eyes, because that is the focal point of a portrait. Poor lighting will not have you looking your best. An experienced photographer who has mastered lighting knows how to work with available light, and when additional lighting is beneficial or even necessary. A low-end photographer may be less experienced with lighting options and you may not get the look you want.

Lower-end photographers may not have the appropriate business licenses and liability insurance because they may do this in their spare time or are more of a hobbyist. If something should go wrong, you want to make sure they have insurance coverage, and that they are licensed to do business.  Find out how long they have been in business.

Be advised that many iconic locations require a permit. These permits are not optional, and if your photographer has not acquired a permit, they can be fined by the municipality or park. This may result in having to delete the photos taken. Make sure you are working with a knowledgeable professional.  Even if you plan to hire an experienced photographer higher on the spectrum, we recommend that you ask them about their insurance, how they handle situations should something go wrong, and if they have the necessary permits.

When evaluating photographers, consider what you value most. Do you value high-quality products? Do you want wall art of your family adorning the walls of your home? Maybe you prefer albums as a way to enjoy your most precious memories. Depending on the photographer you choose, the photo session itself may be a beautiful memory that you make with your loved one(s).  Find out about the photographer's product line and what options they offer.

With any kind of milestone portraiture (seniors, families, couples, engagement, etc.), you want to know that the photographer you’re choosing has the skill to deliver the photos that you will love forever — photos you’ll be proud to share.  Please, don’t settle on a budget photographer, simply because of money. We support not over-extending your budget, especially if it would cause you to jeopardize other obligations. Some photographers will offer a payment plan, or you can also utilize something like PayPal’s Pay Later option. 

Whoever you select as your photographer, remember you are entrusting that they can capture these special moments for you. These are moments in your life, or your family's life you won’t get back. You want to have inspired portraits for future generations to cherish.

I hope this blog has provided some key points to consider when hiring a professional photographer. It doesn’t have to be daunting. Equipped with a little knowledge, and a few targeted questions, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

If you are looking for a full-service experience, with unique, personalized, elegant images you’ll cherish forever, I would love to work with you.