How to Pick the Right Photographer for You

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The Bay Area - and even the world - is full of photographers. It can often be overwhelming when you need to try to find the right photographer for you. There are tons of things to consider - including style, price, personality, editing, subject, etc. While it may seem that any photographer can do the job fine, it is so important to find someone who is very skilled at getting the photos you want and need. 

I've compiled a small list of things that are important to consider before you hire a photographer, accompanied by photos of my good friend Candy (@candytong12) and her boyfriend Nick at SF City Hall & Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. 

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1. Area of Specialty

First things first, does the photographer you're looking for do the work you want to do? Whether you are looking for senior portraits, family photos, newborn shots, event photos... it is important to know if the photographer you are looking for does the type of photography that you need. While I love capturing family photos, I generally don't book newborn photography because I don't have the experience nor set-up for your general newborn photography experience. While sometimes it is great to get a fresh perspective from a photographer who may not primarily shoot a certain subject, sometimes it's the better choice to pick a photographer who has a lot of experience in creating the photos you want. 

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2. Photographer's Style

Part 1 - Posing:  Not all photography sessions the same. Just within couples photography, there is a lot of variety - whether you're looking for classical, posed photos or a natural, lifestyle look you have more than enough photographers to fit your needs. I personally love to capture candid, natural moments in front of my camera that focus more on direction then stiff and specific posing. While this is the photography I love, it's not for everyone and some people may prefer a more traditional approach. 

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Part 2 - Variety of Shots: Every photographer uses a variety of equipment, including various lenses. Some photographers shoot mostly to include the background - often described as wide shots, some photographers work primarily with close-ups, and some do a little bit of both. A great idea is to check your favorite photographer's blog posts to see a good representation of what a full sessions results look like. Instagram can be deceiving with it's focus on singular shots. Make an effort to explore your future photographer's website and blog to best understand how your photographer shoots and what a whole session looks like

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Part 3 - Style (including light, locations, etc.): If people approach me to do an indoor studio session inside an industrial building, I would probably tell them that I am the wrong photographer for them. Pay attention to the style your photographer posts and markets. I guarantee you they will do this the best.

I am a natural light photographer, meaning I have to plan a lot of my shoots around the sun, usually sunrise or sunset. I love golden light, flowy dresses, and being in outdoor natural locations. I find that I get my best work when I am working with clients who love the same things I do. Some photographers rely more on external lighting set-ups, like to shoot in urban areas, love high fashion outfits. There are a variety of styles that work for different people. That is okay! Find someone who loves the same things you do! 

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Part 4 - Editing: Most photographers create a distinct style through their editing. Some photographers love a bright airy style others love dark and moody photos. Some photographers throw on heavy, stylized edits while others keep photo edits fairly natural. Pay attention to a variety of their work to make sure they have experience editing different skin tones, whether they like to keep detail in their skies, whether they like to warm up their photos or cool them down. All of these things can effect what your photos will look like in the end.

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3. Pricing & Packaging

Pricing is an important part of finding a photographer. Photography is a luxury, so it is often priced that way. Prices for photography can vary wildly, some photographers advertise prices on their sites, others do not. Don't be afraid to reach out to a few different photographers to find one that is inside your price range. Also, be concious of what your photographer offers in their photography packages. Things to consider include whether the photos are included in the session price, how many photos your photographer guarantees, how long sessions are, how many outfits/locations are suggested, are their travel fees, will you get a print release, etc. Don't be afraid to ask questions to understand what you're getting from your packages. 

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4. Personality

Make sure that the person you're working with is someone you think you could get along with and feel comfortable with. The inquiry process is very important in finding out a little bit about your photographer, and making sure that you're going to be working with someone you like. Just because someone is an amazing photographer, does not mean that they are the right photographer for you. I always try to take extra steps before booking clients for wedding coverage to ensure that I get along with the bride and groom and that they like me. If I'm going to be present on such an important day I want to make sure that I will only help add to the positivity of the day, not detract from it. Photographers are sometimes capturing intimate and vulnerable moments, so it's important that you pick someone you don't mind having around for those moments.

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I hope you found this helpful! If you can think of any tips I left out or have any questions, feel free to comment below. 

Thanks to Nick & Candy - www.candytong.live - for dancing around City Hall & the beach with me.