5 Things to Consider when Choosing a Photographer (and 3 Things Not to Worry About…)

June 21, 2021

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You have many options when it comes to photographers, even those who specialize in horses! There are so many photographers out there doing fantastic work, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit. (Don’t worry, it’s so much easier than finding the right horse–I PROMISE!) Here are a few things to consider!

1. You’ve gotta love the photographer’s photos.

This seems obvious, but every photographer has her own style, and you’ll get the best results by finding a photographer whose style you love, not finding a photographer and asking her to duplicate a completely different style you found on Pinterest. Put into equine terms: if you want to be successful in the hunter ring, don’t buy a barrel racing horse. No matter how great of a horse he is, you won’t get exactly what you want!

2. For best results, consider the photographer’s specialty.

Similarly to #1, there is a lot more to photography than clicking the shutter button. For example, newborn photographers are trained in child safety and have learned to swaddle babies just right for the cutest effect. The job starts before they even pick up the camera! Real estate photographers know how to make a modest house look like a mansion. Family photographers have memorized dozens of poses and prompts to get your family smiling and comfortable.

I do equine portraits only, but have gotten requests to do family sessions, birthday parties, and even weddings. I refer those requests to other specialized photographers, because I believe in doing one thing and doing it really well!

3. Find out exactly what products or digital files you’ll receive and at what cost.

Photographers have vastly different business structures. Some may lure you in with a $99 session fee, but then charge thousands for digital files after you’ve seen your photos. Some do not provide digital images at all. Some provide all your images on a USB drive and are happy for you to print them on your own at Walgreens, and some will instead order and deliver artwork for you.

All of my sessions include fully retouched digital images sized for social media so you can show off your photographs online. I’m also a big believer in tangible products printed at the best possible quality, so most of my packages include prints, with the option to purchase more after you see your images. I use professional labs and take care of ordering, cropping, file optimizing, etc. for you.

Most importantly, before booking you’ll receive an agreement with everything in your package spelled out so we’re on the same page! Beware of any photographer who does not use some kind of contract or agreement. It protects everyone from misunderstandings. There is no right or wrong way to structure photography sessions and packages, it’s just important that you know exactly what is included in your session fee and what can be purchased additionally.

4. Consider whether you want to plan the session by yourself or collaborate with your photographer in advance.

Some photographers leave all the pre-shoot decisions up to you and some will hold your hand every step of the way! I offer help booking a hair and makeup artist if desired, plus horse braiding if desired. I also send a printed style and preparation guide plus a link to skirts and dresses you can borrow from my closet. Some of my clients text me pics of their wardrobe options in advance, and some don’t. Some send me photos of their barn location and some rely on me to pick the best spots once I arrive. I’m available for as much (or as little) help as you’d like!

5. You’ve gotta consult your gut.

I recommend a quick gut check in most life situations, and booking a photographer is no different! How do you feel about the photographer after checking out his or her website and Instagram and after your first communication? You don’t need to be soulmates but you should feel comfortable that you can communicate well and that the photographer is someone you wouldn’t mind hanging out with for a couple hours.

And here a few things that probably don’t matter… (1) Camera equipment – I’m proud of my gear and will happily show it off and explain why I use each piece. But I learned photography a couple decades ago on a VERY OLD medium format film camera, and there are photographers I admire who use every brand and type of lens and body imaginable. (2) Photographer’s age/demographics – there are 14-year-olds as well as grandpas from all corners of the globe putting out amazing work. (3) Instagram following: Having 100K followers may seem like an accomplishment, but you can purchase Instagram followers from shady websites for just a little money. Instead of looking at numbers of followers, check out reviews/testimonials or ask for references!

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