Last night I talked to my cousin on the phone for an hour. She was on fire and rightfully so. The source of the issue was the family portrait photographer that she booked last year for September of 2017. My cousin wanted to reschedule the session because the clothing choices that she had in mind was for cooler weather. The day of her session rolls around and it’s 80 degrees. “Is there anyway that we can reschedule?” she asked. “I have no solutions for you. I’m booked up and have no open dates.” When I heard this, I was in total shock and frustrated for my cousin. Not only is that bad customer service, but ‘I have no solutions for you.’ Is not a professional way to handle the situation, unless she is trying to commit career suicide.
Let me preface that this post was not created with the intent to call anyone out or belittle anyone. I’m writing this, because the general public needs to be educated on the reality of the photography industry. (If someone purchases a professional camera, it does not make them a professional photographer.) Stories, like my cousin’s, happen more often in my industry than what you think. This is because there are no professional standards for photographers like there is in the cosmetology or law industries. Yes, anyone can take pictures, but are you being treated fairly?
How do you avoid a situation like this from happening to you?
GET THEM ON THE PHONE FIRST: There should be a way for you to reach out to them on their website. Ask them as many questions at this point. It’s a red flag if they don’t offer a styling consultation or ask about the attire that you’re going for. This includes wedding photographers.
I DON’T NEED TO TELL YOU THIS, BUT LOOK AT THE IMAGES ON THEIR WEBSITE:
This is huge!!! If you’re really drawn to their style awesome! If there are some things on their site that you don’t like for your session address that. If you go in with images from another photographer whose style is completely different from the photographer that you’re thinking about booking, you may not get what you want. The best thing to do is to find a photographer that can shoot in a style that you love. Not all photographers were created for everyone.
DO YOUR PERSONALITIES MESH WELL: This goes along with loving their style, but the secret is ,during the shoot, how are they going to make you feel during the shoot? Most people, who are getting their picture taken, are extremely nervous, don’t you want a photographer who is going to be understanding of that? It can make for a smoother shoot, and the images will turn out better if they can get you to relax and enjoy the experience.
AGREEMENTS: If you’re getting your portraits done you should expect a model release to be involved and a section where it lists the expectations of the photographer. If an agreement isn’t present in person or digitally? Well that’s another red flag, my friend. Not only are you not bound to show up for the shoot, but the photographer has the freedom to do whatever they want with your images.
DAMAGE CONTROL: Find out what you get in the end. CD’s aren’t the best way to go. Make sure you’re receiving prints with a USB. CD’s don’t last and you should ask your photographer how long they keep the images on file.
RESCHEDULING: This should be covered in the agreement. If for some reason you must reschedule, your photographer should be accommodating. That doesn’t make them your slave, but you both should work together to find a solution. Referencing back to my cousin’s story, her photographer could have scheduled their shoot for early in the morning. The light is beautiful at that time of the day, there may be some fog (which who doesn’t love that?), and that early in the day isn’t going to be sweltering.
ONE MORE THING: PATIENCE
If you absolutely are 100% in love with their work, you mesh wonderfully with the photographer, but she’s booked until the end of the year and you want your portraits next weekend. They should be worth waiting for. Your son isn’t going to get any taller and you’ll still fit in that dress. Chances are, someone will have to reschedule. Ask to be put on a waiting list so when your dream photographer is available, you’ll be the first one to know.
I hope this post was helpful and I want to know what are some of your experiences? Comment below:)
Beth is a portrait, wedding, + pet photographer based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. She has a BS in Digital Photography from the Art Institute of Indianapolis. She loves hiking with her dog Koda, old family photographs, gardening, and traveling with her husband Andrew.
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