It takes time and effort to hire the right portrait or wedding photographer. From searching to a portfolio review to getting to more about the personality to getting all questions answered. It is a time-consuming process, many people looking to have their life moments and events photographed.
And while the look and feel of photos can be seen and subjectively evaluated, the rest of the Photographer’s Jargon and technical aspects of the digital photography are the one I have found many clients struggle with.
So no wonder many clients have lots of questions they are trying to get answers to during the portrait appointment booking or pre-wedding consultations. Some easy to answer, some not so. And some, frankly speaking, photographers are hoping their clients would never ask.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not that photographers are an anti-social bunch or tech gigs, but it has more to do with the type of questions being raised. Some of the most difficult questions are open-ended and require lots of time to explain thoroughly while for some there is simply no single answer.
Here are some of these questions which many photographers dread. I have also added my explanation on why that might be.
1. Wouldn’t This Location Be Perfect For My Photos?
Let’s face it. Clients love to have their photos taken at locations they have been before and feel attach to local parks, their backyards, playgrounds, etc. But that not always might be a good idea.
Here are few reasons why:
- bad light: too bright or too dim light limits the photographer’s ability to capture amazing pictures
- busy background: the background might be too “busy” with distracting objects or color combinations
- too boring: the location might not have the desired architectural or natural artifacts the photographer needs to create interesting composition
My advice is: Leave the location selection to your photographer. Feel free to suggest few places you like, but take advantage of the photographer’s creative talent and experience.
You hired a professional photographer because of the images he or she created and because of the vision and talent you felt best matches your needs. It is best if you let the photographer pick the location(s) and guide you on the posing. You will get much better results. Same for the time of the session (with more details below).
2. Why You Cannot Take Our Pictures at Noon?
While some hours of the day are more convenient for some clients, it doesn’t mean that this is the perfect time for a photography session. The light might be way too bright which will make the colors look washed off in the final images. Bright light also means that the people photographed would squint their eyes to protect their eyes from the blinding sunlight. And also the overhead sunlight would cast dark shadows under the eyes and cause what’s known as “raccoon eyes” look.
Many photographers would recommend hours close to sunset as this is the time when the light is more diffused and comes at an angle rather than straight above the subject. If you must have your session at noon, at least let the photographer pick a location where you will not be in “full sun” but more in an open shadow area (see Question #1 above).
3. Can I See The Photos On The Back Of Your Camera?
Many clients are eager to see their pictures on the back of photographer’s camera during their session. Some even walk away from the location the photographer posed them and lose the pose the photographer spend time and energy to create, only to take a peek at their photo on the back of the camera. This is not only counterproductive as limits the images a photographer can take during the booked time, but also interrupts the flow of creative energy and inspiration the photographer brings to the session.
And to make the matter worst, the images on the back of the camera are so small that one cannot judge easily how they will turn out in the final prints. So my advice is: Hold the temptation to see your images instantly. Be patient and let the photographer capture the images he or she have in mind. The captured images would be enhanced during post-process, so, believe me, you are better off seeing the final images rather than the intermediate results.
4. Why I Cannot Have All Images From My Session?
Many clients want to have every single image from their session. It is the feeling of missing on the images not included in the final selection. Most photographers provide a selection of the very best images to their clients for few reasons:
- viewing experience: looking at images with similar poses and composition but slightly different facial expressions is diluting the viewing experience and final satisfaction
- pricing: processing every single image from a session requires much more time (and yes, time is valuable) than the fee paid by the client
My advice is: Trust your photographer to curate a selection with the very best images from your session. If not satisfied with the results, ask to see few additional images not included in the selection. In most cases, the photographers would show you the very best of the selection and will not withhold any portfolio worthy images from you. And if you are willing to pay for the additional images, they can post-process and provide them for an extra fee, of course.
5. You Can Fix That in Photoshop, Right?
Many clients expect their images to be edited in Photoshop after the session. Which is fine when small corrections are required, and most photographers do that as part of their workflow. Some of these corrections might be:
- removing hair flyaways across you eyes or face
- removing distracting branches, leaves or litter from your images
- patching missing grass
- removing random bystanders or walkers from the background of your images
But what might raise photographer’s eyebrows are changes that might not be easy or appropriate to do. Things like: extreme slimming of you body figure, adding a ferocious T-Rex chasing everyone in your family pictures, arming your kids with fake weapons in their portraits, etc (these by the way if you wonder are real requests I have heard over the years).
Make sure you discuss any post-processing Photoshop changes with your photographer before the session. This way he or she would be able to comment on if this is something that could be done or not. It also makes it easier, to stage the photo shoot and pose you, with these edits in mind.
6. Can You Make Me Look Younger And Less Tired On My Photos?
Well, this is related to the Photoshop question above, and there are few things a photographer can do. But if you are going to ask this questions, please, at least specify how that would look like.
Different people have different ways to describe a younger and less tired look, so think how the photographer would know what edits to make. Edits like removing dark circles under the eyes, removing neck wrinkles, darkening the hair color or whitening the scleras, can be done easily, so explain to your photographer the edits you have in mind.
7. Why Do You Charge So Much?
No photographer would like to answer this question, for few reasons. First, he charges what he or she thinks their time and talent are worth, and very few are open to negotiations. Second, quantifying “so much” is very hard to do as the photography session prices vary widely. For more experience and more creative images, one should expect to pay more.
So instead of asking the photographer to justify its rates, try to find out what is included into your session price. Things like: duration, digital images, prints, edits, retouches, etc. are useful to know. At least you, as a client, would know what your payment would get you. Which is a very valid question to ask anyway.
8. Can You Shot Half The Time, Give Me Fewer Pictures And Charge Half The Price?
Well, this sounds like plain bargaining and while it is customary for some cultures to bargain over price in the USA this is considered offensive. Keep in mind that photography is a luxury and discretionary service, so it is hard to put a price tag based on the time and number of images one receives.
The look from photo to photo varies with the photographer’s experience, so the emotions and feelings a photograph triggers. Not all photographers are created equal in regards to their skills, talent, vision, and experience.
So my best advice is: Skip the bargaining part. Inquire about the price and service details and hire someone who can deliver the results you are looking for the price you are willing to pay. The changes are that your bargaining efforts would be in vain.
9. Can You Give Us The RAW Files So We Can Edit Them Ourselves?
Most photographers would not like this question because they feel it undermines their brand and insults them as artists. The RAW files are simply SOOC (straight out of the camera) images with no edits or enhancements and many photographers consider them just the building block for creating their final images. Later in post-processing edits of brightness, sharpness, color, and contrast are made to give the final image the look and feel, the photographer had in their mind during the session.
So if RAW files are shared, and the client does not as great post-processing edits, and later shares the image with a note that was taken by so and so the photographer, guess how the photographer would feel. His reputation would be tarnished for something he or she has not done.
So pass on this question and hire the best photographer you can afford. This way you don’t have to edit your photos and if you are itching to use Photoshop, ask the photographer for what is his policy for editing and sharing his or her photos.
10. Should I buy Nikon or Canon Camera?
This question just makes sense, right. The photographer should know which one is best.
Maybe, but how can one recommend something if he or she doesn’t know how the person intends to use it. It is like, one recommending someone to buy a sports car without knowing if the person is driving it like to drive fast or slow. The question is simply way too open for someone to give a single answer.
If you are buying the camera to snap occasionally pictures on your family vacations, either brand will do.
11. What Camera Should I Buy?
Again. Way too open-ended question without knowing the intended purpose. The right model would be the one that meets your needs, so talk to your photographer first what you plan to photograph and maybe he or she can give you advice.
My guess is that camera in the medium price range would do fine. Read the online reviews and you would get a pretty good idea.
12. Can We Do Pose Like This One?
While this is a very common question photographers are getting nowadays, there lays the problem. Using Pinterest to copy poses and setups also means that your images would look like exactly as everyone else. You are asking the photographer to copy the look, so this is what he or she would do, right.
Photographers think of themselves as creative artists and like to add their creative input to the images. They like to experiment and invent, rather than to follow. Plus the poses you might be considering might not be a good fit for your body structure, location or look the photographer usually produces. So, let the photographer’s creativity take place. If you liked his or her previous work, the chances are that you would get similar results from your session as well.
Save yourself time and energy by asking the right questions when speaking with photographers. It is a good idea to avoid open-ended and hard to answer in few sentences questions. Instead, focus on understanding the logistics for your session (what time to meet your photographer, how long before you see the final images, what is included in your package, etc.).
Look for a photographer with a style and look you like, rather than price tag you wish to pay. Then talk about what results you wish to have but leave the details on how, when and where to the photographer. It is their job to arrange and conduct the photo session in the best possible way so you can have the amazing images you hired them for.
About the Author:
Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding and Events Photography business based in Mountain View, CA. We currently offer engagement, wedding, events and portraiture photography services to clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. For updated portfolio, to learn more about us and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site