So, beginning this blog I try to focus on portrait sessions to show the art and work currently being created. But there are times I will just speak from the heart about work or personal life.
This is one such time I will not feature a session, but a topic that is very important this time of year is ‘finding your photographer’. This process can sometimes be like that ol ‘needle in a hay stack or finding your focus’. I would hate to be shopping for a professional photographer in this day and age. Each year it becomes increasingly populated with talent and up and coming talent, but not necessarily professionals. I thought I’d give my two cents about what to look for when trying to find the right match for your photography needs and some things you should keep in mind while searching. There is definitely something for everyone!
Firstly, find a style that fits your needs. Traditional, Edgy, Commercial, Artsy, or a mix of a lot of these. Commonly an experienced photographer can adapt and come up with what you need with a few simple questions.
Then, importantly are the PRODUCTS…. This is where the understanding of both the art and business side of photography comes into play. The trend in the photography industry is the influx of the ‘shoot and burners’. These are newer photographers that do not offer products, only a CD of your pictures. So you must ask, Is quantity valued over quality? Do you need 100 pictures or a few images that really speak to you? There is nothing wrong with this practice if you truely are not a salesperson nor want to be…but it must be priced accounting for the correct business practices and expenses. We then have the concept of longevity of the image created. The differences of professional printing vs printing a picture on your computer. Many pictures look great on a computer BUT DO NOT print well in a non professional environment finding the balance of colors and tones as they were intended. This is the technical side of photography and should be a great factor. Many of the local chain stores offer printing of your pictures, but will they last? Does it matter? All questions only you can answer.
I KNOW the answer for me…..I just re framed an amazing 100 year plus image of my grandfather, in curls and a dress. This is priceless, but the image was not printed online or at a local store. Care, love, and technique all came into factor it still being with me today, Priceless…
A few must do’s is to check the BUSINESS side of the photography world. In OR you do not need to be licensed as a photographer, but you must register your business with the state and city. It’s easy to check the state site to make sure a photographer is at least registered as a business. And there is the technical side of a business, do they have an office and or studio? Now comes the really boring stuff of insurance, taxes, blah,blah,blah. All very important business aspects to those of us in the industry, but many people ‘taking pictures’ do not factor in. This is all a very important aspect not only for running a business, but is also reflective in pricing. The cost of goods is not the price it takes to actually print an image, but for my business it factors in all the above, plus the framer, the book-keeper, the assistant, retouching, editing, more editing… and even more hours editing on the new software, the continued learning, conferences, props,new equipment, new computers, programs, repairs, more repairs, more new equipment, web sites, many other expenses, not to mention… experience and talent. You can see where this is headed. Did you know professional cameras (actually any camera’s) only have a certain amount of exposures they can endure? That number is come very close for me and the research has begun on the new system that will need to be purchased.
When figuring out who is the right photographer for you, factor in all of the above. The photography industry has been hit with such an influx of amazing camera’s that most anyone can take a picture and make you look petty darn good. But will that eye capture the ‘essence you want’?
Advice: if you are reading this as a new photographer or thinking of getting in the profession instead of just starting out, check out business classes, learn what is involved to run a business, ask to learn or mentor with an established business. There are plenty out there happy to share knowledge and lots of organizations to help you begin the journey, be a sponge and absorb the information to help make your journey successful and not burn out, we all began somewhere. I know the last few years how so many businesses have been effected, so it especially makes me look at local shopping and who we support locally. I try very hard to support our community, those who do for us, donate to local causes, contribute, live and work here by supporting them. It is also a good thing to know how the business conducts itself and if they give back to their professional organizations or local community.
I certainly hope this little blurb is something that will help you determine and understand what goes into running a business and the photography world a bit more than you did before reading this. Because, the most important we all want is to capture the essence of the ones you love, to hang lovely art on your walls, or to display images in an album that can be created and cherished for lifetimes.
To be a true artist is a fine line between creating art and running a business.
A few links to help in the process:
Professional Photographers Of America: https://www.ppa.com/findaphotographer/
State of Oregon-registered businesses: https://egov.sos.state.or.us/br/pkg_web_name_srch_inq.login