Choosing your photographer can be a challenge – after all, there are SOOOOO many options! Each photographer will offer different services, packages and products, and it can be difficult to know which to choose.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to choose their photographer purely on price. I absolutely get why price is a consideration - after all, we all have to live within our means - but if capturing your memories is important to you, it's worth making sure that the photographer you choose is the one who shares your vision and values, and not just the cheapest.
I've lost count of the number of times I've been told about people booking a cheap shoot they've seen on social media, or they've "won" a free competition, only to follow that up with "I can't believe how much money we spent" once they got to the ordering part. The truth is, if you book on the basis of a cheap session fee, you are likely to get hit with a hard sell later on, because that tends to be how that type of business model works.
So what's a better way to choose your photographer?
TIP ONE: Listen to recommendations
They say word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. If your friends and family have had a great experience with a photographer, it makes sense that this will be your first port of call for your own photography experience. Speak to your friends and find out the photographers they use. It's always worth checking out if they have a referral code you can use as well!
TIP TWO: Do your research
Once you’ve got some recommendations to work with, do your research. Sometimes it seems everyone’s a photographer, so make sure you check out their portfolios and ensure they do the type and style of session you want. If you want relaxed, informal photos, don’t pick a photographer whose portfolio is filled with posed studio shots. Neither of you is going to be happy!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be clear with the photographer about what you’re looking for.
TIP THREE: Check out their position on dog welfare
As dog owners, we all want to make sure our dogs are happy, healthy and comfortable. One of the most important things to check is that the photographer you're considering prioritises your dog's welfare during their photo shoot. The best way to do this is to check out their portfolio - if the dogs look stressed or uncomfortable, this should be a warning flag for you to dig deeper and find out whether it's a situation you want to put your dog in.
You can also check and see if they've undertaken any courses relevant to your dog's well-being, such as Canine First Aid or Canine Body Language.
TIP FOUR: Be realistic on costs
There is a photographer for every budget. Some photographers offer a set fee for your photo shoot and will give you all the digital files included in that fee. Others will offer an experience where you can view your photos and order wall art, albums and other products.
Different options will suit different people, and there is no right or wrong way to invest in photography. It’s important that you pick a photography experience that suits your budget as well as your style, and that you understand the implications of that choice e.g. if everything is included or if you'll need to factor in the extra price of prints & products later on.
If the photographer you LOVE is out of your price range at the moment, check and see if they offer an instalment plan to help you spread the cost, or see if there are gift voucher options so that you can ask people to get you vouchers towards a photo shoot for a birthday or Christmas gift.
TIP FIVE: Read between the lines
There's an old adage - if it sounds too good to be true, it normally is. A cheap price may look really attractive, and also make you feel like you're not taking too much of a financial risk if your dog acts up, or won't pose for the camera. But it may mean that you'll face a hard sell when you come to the ordering stage. If you can stick to your guns (and budget) even when faced with all those gorgeous photos of your dog, that's great - but it could mean you end up overspending and experiencing buyer's remorse over your purchases rather than joy.
All photographers should be clear and transparent in their pricing before you book, so you know exactly what the cost implications of your choice are.
TIP SIX: LOVE their work!
This is probably the most important tip! Your photographer is the person who is going to capture your memories to treasure for a lifetime, so make sure their style and work is right for you.
Don’t spend your hard-earned money on a photographer that you think is ok – spend it on one you love!
So how did I choose my photographer?
Well - I didn't exactly follow these tips.......
Before I got engaged, I fell in love. I’m not talking about my husband (although of course I love him!), but about seeing photos taken by our future wedding photographer for the first time. I spotted an advert on Facebook for wedding reportage, wondered what it was and clicked the link. Looking at Ian’s work, I knew this was the photographer I wanted at my wedding. I didn’t know (and didn’t care) how much it cost, what services he offered, or anything else – I just knew this was the photographer for me.
I was really lucky that everything fell into place, the price / package offered was a good fit with what we wanted, and when we finally got engaged the photographer was the first thing I booked.
Our wedding photographer cost more than the food, but hey, when the food is eaten and the day is over, the photographs are the memories that stay forever.