Caitie Beth Nelson
A Destin, 30A, Santa Rosa Beach Photographer who is just happy to be here.
As with any service, you want to make sure you choose your vendor wisely. But, what are the best ways to choose a photographer? Especially if your photographer isn't local to you?
It's really an easy choice. Just hire Amy and me. There. No thinking involved! Haha. But honestly, there's a photographer for everyone. I want to make sure everyone ends up with a *quality* photographer that suits their style!
I have heard numerous complaints and sad stories from my Destin and 30A clients about time and money wasted with previous photographers they were hoping to trust with their memories. Do you remember my previous blog post about the Caplan family and their experience? Their story is one of the stories that inspired this post. While they did often experience good luck, as the matriarch told me, their successful portrait session with me was the result of multiple family members doing what it takes to be sure they hired the correct professional photographer. If you didn’t read the post, I’ll give a short recap: Years ago the entire family (adult children and grandchildren) traveled and gathered for a beach vacation one summer. A professional beach photographer was contacted and hired to create nice family portraits. Everyone was wanting print-worthy, flattering, stunning work. What they got was an uncomfortable session with someone who was less than personable, and worse, the portraits received were full of shadows and squinting eyes. Nothing could be used as a lovely, large print to be displayed in the parents’ home. It was a stressful experience, and very disappointing, to say the least. Amy and I cannot stress this enough: The beach is gorgeous, and so fun, but a photographer needs to understand the light and how to use it.
1. Consider your style. Do you have a light, bright and airy home? You may want to consider someone with a similar approach to working with light. Do you want posed photos, or candid? Do you want a fun mixture of both? Decide your style, search for photographers in the area, and narrow down your list by style. Do this before even considering the price range. It’s very tempting to go by price alone, sometimes. I implore you to shop by style first. You must be happy with what you receive, or the money will be a waste, no matter if it was a good deal or not. A professional photographer will have a consistent style, and that style must match your taste and expectations. Review his or her portfolio and be sure you would want their work hanging on your walls. A great way to shop by style is by using Instagram, and using hashtags to find photographers in that area.
2. Ask to review a copy of the contract, and ask for clarification on anything that seems off-putting. This may seem obvious for most, but you may come across a term or agreement that doesn’t suit your family. One example is having the choice to be featured on social media or not. Some people are uncomfortable having their children on Instagram or Facebook. Amy and I totally get that, and respectfully give our clients the option to opt out of being used in posts and advertising. Honest moment: That’s hard for me. I *love* showing my clients off. We have such good looking folks come our way!
3. This one is the biggest deal to me, and should be for you — especially if you are hiring a photographer for your vacation photos before arriving at your destination. Talk to him or her on the phone! Yes, texting and email are so much more convenient. I totally get that. So many people just aren’t phone call people. However, it’s hard to get a feel for someone’s personality without listening to their tone and hearing how they deliver their answers. Calling and speaking to them enables you to truly trust your gut. If you two don't jive during a quick phone call then there's a good chance your session will be stuffy and uncomfortable. What does stuffy and uncomfortable give you? Boring, dull, lifeless portraits. There’s no fun, candid ones happening there! We want lively smiles at the beach, right, y’all?!
Here are a few other things to consider:
- Ask for references. Some photographers will have testimonials on their websites. If you are needing more reassurance then ask for a reference!
- Ask to view a complete gallery from a session that has about the same number of people in your group or family. Beach photography can be difficult because of the lighting and wind, so you'll want to see examples of a session from beginning to end.
- Ask about retouching services and fees associated with them, if this is not already covered in the contract.
The clients we serve are generally in the Destin, Miramar Beach, 30A, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, Seaside, Inlet Beach, Seagrove Beach, and Grayton Beach areas which means we serve a lot of out-of-towners. Your time is precious, so don't just hire any beach photographer for your portrait session or wedding! If Amy and I are both booked we always refer our clients to other trusted local professional photographers. Contact us for availability or other information. We're happy to help!
Do you have any tips to share on hiring a vendor?! Please comment and let us know! We love sharing helpful information.