Photographer or "Faux"tographer?
What does it mean to be a Professional Photographer
Recently Jerry wrote a great article about photographers for an online publication called "Around Hawaii" We would love for you to click on the link below to see all the amazing information he shared about what to look for before you hire a "pro" photographer. Check it out here...
Around Hawaii Article
Please do make comments and rate this article on the site, if you are member. Around Hawaii is full of great articles about our 808 state. Here is a copy of the article below for you to enjoy and learn about what it really means to be a professional photographer. We would love your input, please comment!
You're a Professional photographer.... so what does that mean?
March 1, 2014
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How do you KNOW your pro photographer is going to deliver what they say they will? Almost from the beginning of consumer digital photography about 2001, professional wedding and portrait photographers have been met with a lot of competition, some good, some well.... not so much.
So how do you decide if YOUR photographer is for real? Simple ask them a few questions about their business..... the answers will either surprise you or fulfill the criteria of your question and tell you if they are serious about their business.
Anyone can have a website in about an hour and call themselves anything they want online. This is not a good way to judge a true business. What about just doing research or asking our friends and family. YES all of these are good. Keep in mind that one person’s opinion or review may or may not relate directly to your experience. Take for instance a movie that you "LOVED" and recommended to a friend who just thought it was " So - So" or flat out didn't like it? Reviews and recommendations should always be followed up by your own personal experience. Unlike a movie where watching it yourself is really the only way to know if you like it. You can interview a photographer before you decide to user their service. Here are a few questions you can put to them that might give you a few clues about who they are and how they operate as a photographer. Begin by setting yourself up as the "Boss" who is interviewing a prospective employee.
- Call their number, if they answer in a business manner, i.e. "Thank you for calling XYZ photography, how may I help you?" Your first qualifier has been met. If however they just say "hullo" their business line is likely their personal phone and probably not someone who is serious about you or their business.
- If you get a voice mail account, is the message businesslike or personal? Again who would you trust?
- If you are meeting them in person, regardless of where it is, evaluate their appearance, their business card if they have one, literature if it is provided. Remember this is an interview. You are the employer and they are hoping you will hire them. Be diligent, boss like.
- Ask the tough Questions like those listed below. Q&A.
- Is photography your full time profession? While this is not a must, it is a good indication of just how much time someone may be able to spend on your images once they have been taken. Will they provide fast service, quality images and be able to deliver photos on the agreed upon timeline. If not, they could be working overtime for their real full time job and not be able to dedicate enough time to your event.
- Do you shoot alone or do you have assistants or backup photographers? Assistants and backup photographers are a good indication of how serious someone is about their profession. It's nice to know that the person you are hiring is going to take your photos however, if they are sick or disabled will someone else be able to handle the event? This is particularly important for a wedding reservation.
- How long have you been taking pictures professionally? Longevity indicates a level of commitment to someone’s profession. This is not to say that someone who is just starting out isn't committed to the profession, just that they haven't been there and done that..... yet. Those with longevity all started out as a newbie, the question is do you want a newbie to practice on your wedding photos?
- How often do you shoot each week? If someone is busy and their calendar is full this is a great indication of how happy clients are with the photographer. Be willing to be a little flexible with regards to booking someone who is busy. While it might be hard to reserve time with them it's generally worth the extra effort.
- Do you have backup equipment? Wow, this is a big one. Professionals should carry at least 2 cameras and several lenses, flashes etc. This is especially true with wedding photographers. You only have one chance to make the magic happen and if the equipment fails so does the wedding photographs or portrait session.
- Is there an agreement that is signed between you and the photographer? Again a huge red flag if they don't require you to sign an agreement, especially for a wedding. There is so much that goes into your wedding day, you want to know that your photographer will be there and has agreed to deliver the goods and services outlined in a signed agreement. In short, get it in writing. Read the agreement carefully before you sign it. The agreement should offer protection for both parties. If you have questions about the agreement, ask.
- Do they have samples of their work? When we say samples, we don't mean a slideshow of their best work on their website. We mean a wedding album from a single wedding, a portrait session from beginning to end. Ask them if they have a "look book" of their work or a full session or wedding you can see.
- Do they have a business license are they a sole proprietor, LLC or Corporation? This can be a really sticky one. It might seem like a kind of personal question but the answer is important. Many years ago we called "Fauxtographers" a "Fly by night photographer" because they were here today and gone tomorrow. They were called this because they could come into town, set up shop, take tons of deposits for work they never had any intention of completing. They would magically disappear, no phone number canceled email addresses, closed doors at their studio on online.
- How long does your photographer save your images, who owns the copyrights? The answers you will get for this question are very wide ranging. Pay close attention to the answer you receive though because it might be very important years down the road.
- Photographers in the 90's petitioned and won a huge legal victory for copyright protection. In a nutshell they have the ability to sell their images in part or whole to whomever they wish as intellectual property. This is the legal end of the answer. The photographer owns the rights to all the images taken by them anywhere any time. The ONLY way this changes is through a written agreement between the client and the photographer whereby the photographer releases "all associated rights" to the images being purchased to the client. Anything short of that kind of verbiage means that the images are owned by the photographer for up to 75 years.
- Are they associated with any professional organizations? Pros like to be around other pros. There are lots of organizations out there to help photographers hone their craft, WPPI, PPA as well as professional organizations like BNI, OWA, etc. The list goes on and on. If they aren't participating in any of these associations they may not know about them or just aren't interested in expanding their knowledge about their chosen profession.
- Whether you are planning a simple family, couple or individual portrait session or a huge wedding, you want to interview your photographer.
- Choose a photographer that fits your personal comfort but do it wisely. You are the boss here and your photographer should be a pro.
- Expect to purchase products from them that you have seen and like after the initial session or wedding.
Be sure that they will be able to continue to provide you with years of service and products as your family and your needs grow and change. Developing a relationship with your photographer in this way will provide you with the best possible images throughout your life. There is no substitute for and experienced professional. Choose wisely and you will be happy with the results. - Aloha