Hiring a Photographer (You'll Love) in Anchorage, Alaska | Anchorage Family Photographer | Moss and Myrrh Photography Anchorage, Alaska
First things first, I'm totally aware I'm going to make people mad with this post. Quite honestly, I don't care. I don't think I'm better than anyone or have some authority to call out the crazies, but it seems to be something no one wants to talk about, so here I am! This blog post is going to tell you HOW to find the perfect photographer for you. I don't care if you hire me, I really don't. I don't want to be everyone's photographer and I'll happily refer you to someone WORTHY of your business. Just ask, and I'll send you to someone amazing.
I've had an influx of inquiries recently stating that they had hired a photographer, but they flaked last minute, and now they were desperate to find someone to cover their session.
I'm absolutely flabbergasted (that word makes me lol) that there are people who do this. There are actually people who take money from others, promising a service in return, only to disappear. These people are not business owners or photographers. They don't respect you or your money, they really don't.
While these situations royally suck, they really can be avoided with a little planning on your part. There are steps you can take to weed out the crazies and UNprofessionals, you just have to put a little effort forth. When it comes to investing in memories that will be passed down generation to generation, the effort is very much worth it.
What do you want?
This question can go in multiple directions..
What type of session do you need? How involved do you want your photographer to be? How do you want to present your portraits? Wall art? Table art? Digitals? What is your budget? What style are you drawn to?
REALLY think about all of these things because they are what will help you to find the perfect photographer for you and your family.
Style is so important. An established photographer will have a definite style that can be found through out their work, no matter the session. Pull up some of the best local photographers in your area, notice the patterns? Their editing and shooting style will be the same through out their sessions, no matter the sessions. This is what makes them, them. This is their art. They aren't going to change that for you, so make sure you love it.
If the photographer you're looking at does not have a specific style, move along. You point blank have no clue what you're getting back if they can't even figure out what they're doing as far as editing/style. Being an artist is confusing and there are SO many directions you can go. Most haven't figure out who *they* are as an artist, and that's going to show through your portraits. You want consistency when portfolio searching. Consistency is key.
Do they specialize in what you need? Some of us focus specifically on what we love. I love pregnancy, birth, babies, and children, it's my main focus and you will see it through out my work. You're not going to hire a wedding photographer to photograph your birth..you're not going to hire a birth photographer to photograph your wedding. It's just the way it goes, so don't spend precious time on people who haven't a clue how to photograph what you need. I'm breaking out in hives just thinking about photographing a wedding!
Do they offer what you need? Do you want digitals or tangible quality art? I offer both, but really try to focus on heirloom art you can pass down generation to generation. Not your thing? That's fine, but my clients know it's what I offer and they can opt out if need be. Do you want someone who is going to give you a link to download your images, nothing else? Or require you to meet them multiple times? I'm not bashing anyone, this is a real question. Some clients don't have time to put into meeting multiple times, so they'd prefer an online gallery or mailed USB. I don't offer this (usually) because I like the one on one. You're paying good money to hire me, you deserve my time.
Quality over quantity in digital images. If digitals are a part of what your photographer offers, ask them how many. If they state you get EVERY FRIGGIN PICTURE they take, they're insane. Run for the hills...F A S T. I can assure you, you DO NOT want every picture they take. There are some scaaaaary pictures (You know, those awkward in betweens where you look like you're going to puke? Or your arms are t-rexing? You don't want those.). On top of the scary, there is no way on this planet they are sitting down and hand editing each. and. every. picture. Unless they've only taken 20 images all together, they aren't. So you're just getting crap from the millions of pictures they're taking. Again, R U N.
Print Release. Ask about it. What's included in their print release? If they ask you what that is.. R U N. If they offer you all of the RAW files..run (unless you have a clue as to what that is and can actually use them..again, I'd say run). Let's do a little educating here..RAW files are very much like unprocessed film. They're fresh from the camera's sensor, they haven't been touched. You need special software to edit these files and unless you know how to use said software, you don't need them. You can't print a RAW file, you can't put it on Facebook, it's useless to you. I've never had anyone ask me for RAW files but I can point blank tell you what I'd say..NO. You hire a photographer for their EVERYTHING. My everything is my editing, you can't have my RAW files. If someone is handing them out like candy, clearly they don't know what they're doing.
Are they even a business?
For cereal. This is an issue. If they're running a LEGAL business they need more than Facebook page. There are SO many people out there who work this way. Shocking, eh?
Business License - Do they have it? If they say they don't need one they are a liar, liar. In order to operate a business in the state of Alaska, you need a friggin business license. If they don't have a business license, chances are they aren't paying taxes. Now, I don't know about you, but that makes me ANGRY. The rest of us are paying our taxes, so why do they get to just shove money in their pockets and keep it a secret? Nope. Not okay. Don't support these people, people. Chances are these people are going to be cheap to keep under the radar. This is not a business to them. This isn't how they survive, they don't care about legalities or YOU for that matter. They just want to pay for their daily Starbucks run.
Insurance - Yeah, they need that too. To cover them AND to cover you. Insurance is important. Oh, they have insurance that covers their equipment? Yeah, that doesn't cover you OR them. So, ask!
Contracts - If you're hiring a photographer and they say, "You're good to go! You're on my calendar!", that doesn't mean anything. NOTHING. They need to be legally bound by contract or they are free to just not show up. I mean, they can do that anyway, but you can take them to court if there's signed paperwork stating you paid xxxxxx amount for xxxxxxx services and they didn't show. Let's say you hired someone to photograph your birth, you put down half the deposit but didn't sign anything. There is absolutely NO proof you hired them. There isn't a drawn out contract stating that you paid for THIS so they will do THIS and you will get THIS in return. If they didn't send you a contract from the get go, I'd run. If you REALLY love them, ask for one.
Be sure to read your contract thoroughly. What is the cancellation process? Do you get your money back? How many times can you reschedule? What if they can't come? Make sure you're okay with all of it.
Invoices - Ask for an invoice no matter how you pay. You need proof that you paid xx amount and owe xx amount. Without proof of payment, you've got nothing.
Ah, yes, I'm going there. MONEYYYY. Everyone hates talking about it, but it's a real world issue here. What do you want to pay? What is your budget? I mean..REALLY think about this. What are your photographs worth to you? Twenty bucks? One hundred? One Thousand? Ten Thousand? I apologize if I hit any hot buttons here, but here I go anyway..
Budget. No one takes me seriously when I tell them to budget. If you want quality portraits, you're going to have to budget for them. I have clients who put me in their yearly budget. YES, their yearly budget! I'm a part of their thought process when they think out their year. If you budget correctly you CAN have beautiful portraits. Trying to get pregnant? That's A LOT of portraits that need to be taken. Start saving IMMEDIATELY. Find your dream photographer and put back xx amount once a week, once every two weeks, once a month, until you can reach your goal. Most photographers only need a deposit put down to hold your session date. Know what you need and get it so you can book them and be set! The same goes for wedding photography. The SECOND you're engaged, start saving.
Every year figure out how many sessions you want and budget for your favorite photographer so there isn't any stress when paying.
Photography is an INVESTMENT. When your loved one dies, aren't their photographs one of your most prized possessions? When someone is gone, they're gone, all we have left are photographs and memories. Memories fade, photographs don't (well, not for hundreds of years if you print them..and not at Walgreens). A photographer can give you something no one else can. They can literally freeze a memory and give you something to look at for the rest of your life. They can give you a memory to pass down for HUNDREDS of years. Isn't that amazing? Isn't technology amazing? Don't take it for granted. (^^Holy cheesy!)
My grandma is a photography fanatic. Growing up I HATED it (can I not eat without a camera being shoved in my face?). Now, I get it. We have photographs of our family from the 1800s. The 1800s, guys! There are faces I would've never known existed had those people not had their photographs taken. Most of us are so wrapped up in the stresses of life that we forget that there is a future that goes way beyond us. Our children, their children, their children's children, they're going to want to see your face. Get quality work that CAN be passed down.
CHEAP. I'm going to say it..you get what you pay for. If you get sessions done on a whim, just booking any Susie Jean (I like making up names) on the for sales page, you're most likely NOT going to get quality work. If someone is asking $50 for a disc of 20 images, you're likely getting crap back. If that's your cup of tea, then cool, whatever. But I honestly think that people don't realize there is another option. There is beautiful, quality, work out there and YOU CAN HAVE IT, you just have to find it (and pay more than $50 for it..hello, budget)!
This is my last bit of advice and it basically leads back to "specializing" ^ above, but it's really, really, really, important. If you are getting birth, newborn, or wedding portraits done, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL. A R E A L professional. Birth is serious business. There is no "can we put it back so I can try again?" because someone doesn't know what the heck they're doing. You can't put babies back in the womb! You can't redo a birth! Same with a wedding. Can you even imagine if someone completely screwed up your wedding portraits. Faces blown out, blurry, nothing in focus, you can't redo your wedding! And newborns..oh newborns. If you're getting a posed studio newborn session PLEASE hire a professional. A person that is trained and knows how to keep your baby safe when posing. It scares the CRAP out of me when I see half of these newborn portraits coming out. Babies are fragile little beings, it doesn't take much to hurt them. Don't let someone play barbie with the most precious thing you've ever had. PAY for quality. Your baby is worth it. Your baby is worth every friggin penny you own.
I'm done, I promise.
Again, I know I'm going to make some photographers mad with this and I will probably make general people upset (who really loved their $50 disc), but the truth is the truth. It sucks. If you want a photographer who isn't going to flake on you, who is a legitimate business, who has actual training, you're going to have to do research, and you're going to have to pay more than $50. Keep your babies safe, get art that you want to hang on your walls, know that you can TRUST that person you're paying. We have some AMAZING photographers up here in Alaska, go find them!
Want more information on booking a session with me? Or do you need a referral for something I don't offer? Hit that button below! I swear I don't bite. ;)