So I’ve dedicated several posts to new photographers wanting to start a business. However, all businesses need clients to remain in business. With the overwhelming number of photographers that have their single hung out proclaiming to be professional; how does the client choose the right photographer? That’s the purpose of this blog, to help you decide how to make the right choice.
With the Internet and technology of digital cameras, it seems that everyone who has a DSLR or mirrorless camera is using the web to solicit clients. In the not too distant past, we often let our fingers do the walking through the yellow pages in search of a photographer. The old studios that once were part of all the major department stores are all but a bygone era. Making choices was far easier since you didn’t have the information overload to bombard you. However, all is not lost. There are many exceptional photographers out there today offering services and products that are often nothing less than amazing or even possible a few years ago.
The best place to look for a photographer is looking at portraits your friends, family, and neighbors are displaying around their homes. When you see portraits you really like, ask about the photography and their personal experience with the business. I’ll leave it up to you whether to ask about the investment made for such services. Many people are uncomfortable talking about such matters. However, you may need to go no further than a good personal recommendation and contact that business.
The Internet is a very popular way people look to find a photographer. Almost all photography businesses now have a presence on the web to display their work and provide information to attract clients. However, finding the right photographer may take a little time, but worth it to get the right person for you and your family. The first thing I recommend is doing a Google search for photographers in your area. Often times the best photographers will be at the top of the search. Why, because those are the ones serious about their business and pay Google to be a the top. If you’re not on the first page of Google searches you’re chances of people looking at your website are drastically reduced. That should help weed out many that just put up a website and proclaim they are in business.
When going to a website the first thing to do is look through the images in the photographer’s portfolio. Do those images speak to you? Do you like the style of the photography? Are the images of consistent quality? Are there examples of many different people? Do you wish you had similar images? If so, bookmark or make a note of the website to come back to later. Do this with several photographers whose work you really like. You’ll want to revisit them later once obtaining more information for narrowing down your list to around three.
Besides the portfolio, does the website look professional? Is it clean, polished, and easy to navigate? Are there several ways to contact the business? There should be a phone number, email address, and a contact form to reach out to the business. Be leery of only an email address to contact the business. Many good businesses have additional information on their website and PDF files to download that is beneficial to their clients. This information may be about the business, tips that will assist you on things to do before and during a session, along with other good information. Good photographers educate their clients. They want them to have a great experience and love their products.
Are there client testimonials on the photographer’s website? Sure the testimonials listed on the site are going to be only from happy clients. However, even if the photographer asks every happy client for a testimonial the reality is that only about one in ten will take the time or make the effort to give a testimonial. People are more likely to leave a review from having a negative experience than a positive one. So if you see several good testimonials it’s assurance that the business is doing it right.
Portrait photographers should know how to build a personal relationship with their clients. They feel it is important for you to know them right from the start. Their website should have images of the photographer and their staff if it’s a studio. A bio for each of the people there that you may come in contact with. The bio should not only give what each person’s role is in the studio but a little personal information as well. You as a client should get to know your photographer personally.
I recommend proceeding with caution when it comes to businesses that have a limited portfolio. By that I mean are there a lot of images from just a few people. That’s a sure sign they don’t have much business or people photography experience. It leaves a lot of doubt about the quality of service and products you’ll receive. Other things that throw up red flags, the photographer is hidden behind the site and there are no photos of the photographer. As a client, you should want to see who you may be doing business with. Do they have a phone number to contact them? If there is only an email address or contact form, it can be problematic if there should be an issue. However, if your main concern is finding a photographer on a budget, this may be your only option.
Once you have narrowed the list down to around three, contact each of them via phone. Are they helpful or is it a high-pressure sales pitch? I really believe you should set up a consolation appointment. Most professional photographers and studios have a free no-obligation consolation appointment. This is the time to meet the photographer and information about planning for a session, tips to get the most out of your session, how much investment is required, and most importantly is this the person you want for your portrait photographer.
When it comes to choosing a photographer for you and your family it’s important to understand this is an investment. The right photographer will not only reward you with images that will last a lifetime but an experience that you will cherish as well. Really good professional photographers have confidence in their service and products. They should have a money-back guaranty if you’re not happy for any reason. They will want you to be happy and work with you diligently to see that you are thrilled with your experience and final products. After all, happy customers that are repeat customers are much easier for their business than always looking for new clients.