There are undoubtedly a number of factors that go into hiring a photographer to capture your Senior Portraits – their style, availability, pricing and personality. The most important thing, above all else, is that you connect with your photographer’s style and personality. Here’s why:
Style: When looking for a professional photographer, visit their website to get a sense of their style. If you connect with their style, you know what you can expect from your session. If you don’t like a photographer’s style, don’t hire them, no matter how inexpensive they are! Once you find a couple photographers whose style you do like, pick up the phone and give them a call. I don’t recommend just sending an email because you won’t get a true picture of who you are hiring via email conversations.
Personality: A photographer’s role is to make you feel comfortable so s/he can capture genuine expressions. Photographers’ personalities can range from outgoing, silly, understated, commanding, high energy, low energy and anything in between! Consider what type of personality you will respond to best during your session so you can be relaxed and get those natural expressions in your photos. You should get a good idea of how the photographer works by that initial telephone conversation. This is something you won’t be able to determine via an email. If you don’t connect with the photographer on any level, keep looking until you find one that does.
Budget: After you have done your research, make a budget for your portrait session. What you budget for Senior Portraits will vary from what I would pay, your neighbor would pay or your best friend would pay. You’ll find photography prices will range from the $50 Groupon deal to the high-end professional portrait photographer who charges thousands of dollars (see Why Photographer Rates Vary). You may be comfortable settling for a budget photographer, or you may want to spend more on a high-end experience – the decision is up to you. Once you’ve narrowed down the photographers you’d like to work with, look at their overall value and determine what budget you’d like to stay within. It’s important to communicate your budget to your photographer as well.
Availability: Photographer’s schedule their clients months in advance. It is best to plan 6 weeks in advance when scheduling your senior portrait session, especially in the Spring. Sometimes a client may wait a little too long to schedule their Senior Portrait session and can’t get in to the photographer’s schedule for weeks. Check to see if weekday sessions, or a different location are an option to be scheduled in with the photographer. Remember, asking for special accommodations from a professional photographer is asking them to work over-time to shoot/process your session or asking them to delay the time spent on other clients’ session who have booked the photographer months in advance. Some photographers will charge an extra fee for this.
Hopefully this clears up the burning question “How do I choose the right photographer for my senior portraits?” and makes it a little easier to find the perfect photographer for you.