Saturday, December 16, 2006

How to Choose a Photographer / How to Choose a Client

One of the issues that makes the single most significant impact to the quality of your wedding photos or portraits (regardless of whether you're a client or the photographer) is choosing the right person to work with. Just as I mentioned in my last article that emotions matter in terms of creating great images, the relationship between client and photographer makes all the difference in the world between photos you love and photos you can't stand to look at.

Most people looking for a wedding or portrait photographer struggle with how to choose the right photographer. But I'm amazed at the number of photographers who don't put any thought into choosing their clients.

How you choose a photographer or a client will depend on what is most important to you. Some clients are mostly concerned about price (the lowest) and some photographers are mostly concerned about getting business (any business). These are the types of relationships that usually result in disappointed clients and frustrated photographers. There are many issues that need to be considered when choosing the person you want to work with. The most important thing is to go into the interview with your eyes open.

Most photographers are thrilled to show you sample albums, but most photographers are only showing you the best photos they have ever taken. While this work might be amazing, it rarely reflects the results from a "typical" wedding or portrait session. Ask to see the proofs from the photographer's last two weddings or portrait sessions. This will give you a more accurate idea of the kind of work the photographer produces on any given day. Granted, no one should expect every photo to be a masterpiece, but if a photographer can't show you proofs that he was willing to show other clients then that should be a red flag.

Long story short, if you're looking for a photographer you need to keep in mind that "What you see is what you get" ... but only if you're seeing a realistic sampling of the photographer's work and not just their best. If you don't like what you see then don't hire that photographer.

Likewise, there are red flags that photographers overlook when meeting potential clients for the first time. It's perfectly normal (and expected) for a client to have expectations about the kind of images they want from a photographer. However, if a client spends most of their time talking about what they didn't like about other photographers, or pointing out things they don't like in either their current photos or the sample photos you've shown them, this is a dead giveaway that the client is probably going to nitpick every proof they are shown regardless of the quality of the photos. When it comes to photography (or any art for that matter) there will always be clients who have a preconceived notion in their minds about how
the finished image will look. If the finished result doesn't match their imagined result they will not be happy ... regardless of what others think.

Long story short, if you're a photographer looking for a client you need to remember that "The customer is always right" ... even when they're not. It doesn't matter if you craft the best photos of your career. If the customer is not happy, that's all that matters. If you can't make a client happy then don't take the job.

These are just a few of the issues that impact "The Big Picture." Feel free to comment about the things that matter most to you when selecting a photographer or selecting a client.

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