Hayley Lehmann Photography Blog

Guide to Choosing a Professional Photographer

Wednesday May 20th 2009
final 200x300 Guide to Choosing a Professional Photographer

Hayley Lehmann LBIPP

We recognise that your choice of photographer is a very personal one, driven by a host of factors from chemistry and instinct, desired style of coverage, reputation and value. We also know that the process of choosing can feel like a chore, with many photographers appearing to provide very similar services, making it hard to justify choosing one over another. The purpose of this guide is to help frame some of the issues that we feel, with the benefit of our wide experience and knowledge of professional photography practice, should be fully considered when determining who to select. We are not intending to undermine other photographers through this guide, being satisfied that whoever you select has been chosen with a full understanding of the pros and cons of each offering, leading to your peace of mind and ability to relax and enjoy your big day safe in the knowledge that its images and memories are properly protected.

What is a professional photographer?
A professional photographer will have studied photography in depth, developing a thorough knowledge of posing, use of reflectors, natural light, studio light, highlighting and blurring, choice of lens; all this will be combined with a demonstrable breadth and depth of experience gained through years of practice. They will have achieved professional accreditation from a recognised industry body such as BIPP, SWPP or WPPI, and will conventionally have this certification on display. They will also have undertaken CPD (Continuous Professional Development) programmes on a regular basis throughout their careers. Do not shy away from asking a photographer to elaborate on this.

Why use a professional photographer?
Your special day is a one off, never to be repeated event. The responsibility for capturing the key moments, people, and flavour for posterity is in the hands of one person – the photographer. Long after the band have stopped playing and the meal been consumed, the need and desire to relive and recall this day over and over across a lifetime is served by the quality and enduring nature of the images captured by the photographer. Poor photography, borne of lack of technical knowledge or inexperience on the part of the photographer will leave a bitter taste that never goes away. Over-reliance on post-capture computerised manipulation – the crutch for the untrained enthusiast – can only partially mask these failures.

What commercial security is provided by the photographer?
Booking a photographer is often a long term commitment, frequently covering a period of two years (sometime longer), between initial meeting and final hand over of an album. What is the financial stability of the photographer? How long have they been practicing? Are they resident in the UK? What is the real level of confidence that they will be around from start to finish? Consider performing some basic due diligence via Companies House or a credit reference agency.

How am I covered in the event that the images are unsatisfactory?
Regrettably things do go wrong on occasions, even with the most supreme professional. Professional photographers invest thousands of pounds in their equipment to create commercial-quality images. The provision of very expensive duplicate equipment in case of mechanical failure whilst shooting an event will never be found in an amateur photographer’s equipment bag. You should ensure that that your photographer has a comprehensive risk management programme of their own, involving as a minimum, a full set of duplicate photographic and lighting equipment which will be present on site at the function, to mitigate against equipment failure.

Is my photographer adequately insured?
You should be provided with additional financial peace of mind in the form of the photographer’s Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance cover, which should ensure that poor quality does not go unrecompensed due to the photographer’s own financial weakness. Always ask to see an up to date certificate, and ensure that it is valid on the date of your function. A professional photographer will also carry public liability insurance. Additionally, many venues require a minimum of £5m public liability insurance, carried by the photographer, to cover the risk of liability for causing any physical injury whilst covering a function.

What safeguards exist around the long term storage and retrieval of my images?
After the event, a professional photographer will ensure that your images are duplicated, stored and backed up in several places which means that they will not be lost if a single computer‘s hard drive went down. These images will always be stored and retrievable.

What are the pros and cons of buying an album package versus a set of images on disc?
Professionals have access to unique and personalized products such as acrylic blocks, albums and wedding books from companies like GraphiStudio or Jorgensen. They will handle all aspects of the retouching, design and product ordering process for you. Clients who buy into a disc of images as their final presentation forgo the retouching skills and beautiful album designs that are only available from professional photographers; occasionally they will order prints at High Street labs which are poorly printed, or worse still print out their precious images on plain photocopier paper at home. If a professional photographer produces your album, you can be assured that the quality will be high. This is because the final product is an expression of their art. Professionals don’t skimp on processing and merchandise – they go with the best that they can find which will give you products that you will treasure forever. Through your proudly showing these to family and friends they secure their next bookings. Designer albums, bespoke framing, canvas printing, acrylics, and high-end prints, reflect the pride that they have in their work.

What issues do we need to consider if we employ a party planner to organise photography?
Many people employ party planners to organise a function. In many cases they will agree an all-in budget with the party planner, covering all services to be provided including the photography. However, unless non-financial criteria are set down alongside the agreed budget, including stipulating that the photographer to be provided is a qualified professional with a proven quality track record, there is a real prospect that the party planner will source the cheapest photographer available, or maybe the one who is going to give you a disc, without emphasising the need for the quality or style of coverage. In the long run, of course, you will pay the price, not the party planner, for the disappointment that follows.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • more Guide to Choosing a Professional Photographer

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.