As a photographer, my job isn’t just hitting a shutter button.  A HUGE part of my job is making you, my potential client, as familiar and as comfortable with me as possible.  I’ve heard way too many stories of people who book a photographer that either didn’t produce the work they said they would, or didn’t provide the services they said they would, or some ugly combination of both.

I really don’t like to bad-mouth other photographers but hearing stories like this REALLY ticks me off because what often ends up happening is the photographer that dropped the ball ends up making ALL of us look bad.  People don’t interact with photographers on an every-day basis like they do the drive thru person or the gas station attendant so it’s even MORE important that we provide the best experience possible.  We need our clients to be so happy with us that they can’t shut up about it and feel the need to tell the world!

Negative experiences spread like wildfire but really positive ones can spread just as quickly.  To make sure things get off on the right foot, here are a few basic yet very important questions that you, as a potential client, should ask before you book a photographer (including me).

What style(s) do you specialize in?

(Most shooters use a blend of several, but you’ll want to make sure they shoot portraits, for example, if they’re important to you.)

Why you want to know: You wouldn’t ask Monet to paint you a Picasso, right? Going with the style a photographer likes to shoot best (and has the most experience shooting) will give you the best results.

What is included in your editing process?

Why you want to know: These are the techniques magazines use to make pages look perfect. Some photographers will polish all your photos, while others will show you untouched proofs and work their magic only on the images you order.

What exactly is included in your packages?

Why you want to know: Before you book a photographer, check whether prints, albums and proofs, as well as extra coverage such as engagement shoots, are covered. They can all alter the costs significantly. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if, say, your album isn’t included — you can always make this on your own or buy it a la carte — but you want to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples to get the best value. If you’re having your shooter use film, also ask about film costs and processing fees.

How many hours of coverage is included? What is the charge for overtime?

Why you want to know: If overtime is going to cost you a ton, you’ll be able to plan their hours accordingly. For instance, if you have six hours of coverage but your photographer charges a huge hourly rate for overtime, you might want to avoid going past six hours, or, you may opt for a longer package to pay a little more up front (and avoid the larger hourly overtime rate later).

What is the deposit and total fee?

Why you want to know: In addition to this bottom line number, you’ll also want to ask when it’s due and if/how much is refundable should the need arise.

What will happen if you’re sick?

Why you want to know: If you’re going with a company that employs a team of photographers, you’ll have a built-in backup. But if you’re going with a solo shooter, ask if they have colleagues on call in case of an emergency.

Have you ever shot at my venue(s) before?

Why you want to know: Your shooter should be aware of any lighting needs or issues specific to the space. If they haven’t ever worked in your venue, they should be willing to check it out beforehand.

What are the licensing/usage restrictions for sharing photos?

Why you want to know: If you’re a Facebook and Instagram addict, not being allowed to share some of your wedding photos online may be torture — better to know about this ahead of time.

This is a very solid list of interview questions to ask a photographer you are considering.  This list should also clue you into the fact that it is IMPERATIVE that you have a consultation before you book a photographer.  I actually will not book a client without having a consultation first.  Not only does the consultation answer the key questions above and many more, it also gets the client and photographer comfortable with each other’s personalities and familiarizes them on a more personal level, which I feel is important.  If you have any questions about the photographer hiring process or you can think of any other important questions that should be added to this list, feel free to comment on this post.

As always, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me this week.  If you like what you’ve read here, please subscribe and share via the social media links.  You can also find MTM Photography on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram so be sure to check out those pages!  I’ll see ya next week!