5 qualities to look for in your photographer
One of the most difficult aspects of finding, choosing and booking a photographer, whether you’re planning a wedding or sourcing a good match for your business marketing, is the vast amount of choice! Pinterest can only do so much! Photography is a very saturated industry, full of both newbies and old-timers. Wedding planning in particular can be overwhelming, and whilst marrying the love of your life will always be one of the best days of your life, being able to sort a good wedding photographer from a bad one can save you a lot of stress and disappointment.
Whatever your photography needs are, either wedding, family or if you need a commercial photographer, choosing a good quality photographer is a balancing act of desirability, budget and gut instinct – and when you book the right person for the job, it will just feel right.
There are many photographers out there with a large variation in prices and sometimes the true cost is only evident after the images are delivered. As John Ruskin said: “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.”
So, what are the questions you can ask of your photographer, what issues may arise and what qualities should you be looking for?
Value Added & Full-Time Service
Your photographer should be able to demonstrate in some way that this is not just a job to them, but a vocation. This means that photography is preferably their full-time livelihood. Many photographers supplement their 9-5 income by photographing weddings and other projects at the weekend, then rush to edit them of an evening after work. Whilst these part-time photographers may be able to undercut on price (it’s good pocket money to them!) they have to shortcut on quality. You’ll ideally be able to feel how enthusiastic a photographer is about their work by hearing them talk, and they may have ideas about your assignment or chat about ways they are improving their craft. Being a full-time photographer is an important requirement, as it allows them to be available when you need them to be. If your preference is to hold your engagement shoot at 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon, or your business requires at-work photography during the week, then your photographer should be able to flexibly work around you, especially within normal working hours.
Our service includes as standard; meetings, any itineraries and project planning or wedding day timings, liaising with other suppliers, any venue visits and of course, all that careful, post-production image editing. All this means you’re paying for so much more than an on-the-day service.
Digital Image Processing
This is an important, ‘behind the scenes’ distinction: Mirror Imaging doesn’t batch process your photographs with editing software or apply generic photoshop actions or outsource the editing of your images to an editing company in India. These are all common time-saving solutions used by photographers. Instead, every image is personally edited by Sarah. This is extremely rare in the photography industry, as it takes a long time and such demanding working practices reduce profit margins. For every hour Mirror Imaging spends at your wedding or physically photographing your assignment, you can conservatively multiply that number by four to estimate the total time of editing that follows. What it means is that you get an entire collection of photographs that is beautiful, flattering, technically accurate and bespoke to you. It also means our photographs are not over-processed with skin-smoothing apps and effects. Some great questions to ask your photographer are: Do you use post-production on your photographs? Do you outsource your post-production? Will my entire collection of images look like the photographs on your website, or do you only edit a handful for printing?
Natural talent can sometimes bless a rookie photographer and it’s true that we all have to start somewhere. How much you want your wedding or business project to be a testing ground for a photographer looking to build their portfolio is a very personal decision. It’s a proven theory, however, that hours invested plus natural talent equals greater and more consistent results. The demands of a professional assignment can throw off a usually sound photographer, causing them to blur, over or under expose, miss the action or tire altogether. Being a successful photographer isn’t just about being able to take a pretty photograph in leisurely time, it’s about doing it under time pressure, when the circumstances and light are less than ideal, and being responsive to the unexpected, over and over again with consistent results. That’s the value of experience and arguably what justifies a photographer in calling themselves a professional. Don’t be afraid therefore to delve into a photographer’s working history and ask about the jobs that tested them the most. Mirror Imaging’s portfolio extends into the most demanding photography genres; namely weddings, charity and event photography, where speed is of the essence and both volume and quality are demanded.
High Quality Printable Photography
It’s not enough that your photographs look good on Instagram. They should be printable, frameable and useable in either a wedding album or company brochure. Look for photographers with endorsements from industry experts and a plethora of testimonials from previous clients. If a photographer has plenty of featured editorial, you can be encouraged that they can achieve a base standard of printability, as magazine editors need good images that elevate their pages. As Buckinghams Wedding Magazine says:”Mirror Imaging is one of my very favourite photographers. The quality of Sarah’s work is consistently excellent and it’s always a joy to work with her images. Having fallen head over heels in love with her style coupled with my personal belief that she has secretly harnessed the power of beautiful light which she carries with her at all times, I have no hesitation in recommending Mirror Imaging.”
If you need further reassurance, ask your photographer to show you printed work at a larger size, to see the clarity and technical accuracy of their work up-close. What do you look for when assessing an image? If there are faces in the photograph your eye should be drawn to them first. It matters that the photographs are sharp and clear – at least the correct part of the photograph should be tack sharp, even if that’s just the subject’s eyelashes! If it’s a deliberately blurred artistic piece, does it work as a fine art image you could see framed? Look at fabrics in the image too. For example, a white wedding dress should be correctly exposed, not blown-out, and you should be able to see detail and texture of the fabric.
Empathy & Attitude
Every good photographer will know the importance of natural, relaxed images and it goes without saying that Sarah is always on the lookout for them. It’s Sarah’s belief that a client’s opinion of their final photographs directly correlates with how much they’ve enjoyed the experience of being photographed! She therefore goes above and beyond to make it as painless as possible. Regarding weddings, it matters that you have time for you to enjoy your wedding day and be with your guests, without turning your wedding into a solid photoshoot. Working with people from all walks of life who aren’t used to be in front of the camera requires empathy, a solid understanding of body language and a kind-hearted demeanour.