A common question that comes up: How do I make sure I’m picking a good photographer?
Photographer’s (and their talent) come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately there’s no standard or universal system that rates and ranks them all so models are left to try and discern this on their own.
Photographer and lead screening is probably the largest service we provide our clients. Models we represent leverage our experience in determining if an opportunity is worth taking. Below are some of the things we evaluate when reviewing and screening photographers:
This is probably the easiest one. Put simply: Do you like the work you see in their portfolio? Do you like how the models in their work are portrayed? Good chance you’ll be portrayed in the same way. Does the work look dated or does it appear on par with current trends and styles. Avoid bad lighting, tacky props, poor posing or poor editing. If the models don’t look good in the pictures you see there’s a good chance you won’t either.
Most photographers can pull off 1 or 2 great shots. Even really un-talented photographers get lucky once in a while 😉 Review their work closely (especially if they have many photos of the same model or from the same shoot. Are ALL the pictures great or just some. Review their portfolio as a whole. How consistently great is the work you see? If you’re going to work with a photographer (especially on a TF basis where your only compensation is photos – make sure you’re going to get back enough good images to make it worth your time).
Most good photographers develop their own style. Pick a photographer who shows you examples of the kind of photography that you want in your portfolio. This and Quality go hand in hand. If you don’t like the kinds of pictures you see that photographer may not be a good fit for you. The photographers you work with should have demonstrated ability to shoot the kinds of pictures that are representative of the kinds and types of work you hope to get.
Where do they shoot? Do they shoot in a dedicated studio or a home studio? You don’t want to be surprised when you show up to shoot. Many photographers, especially that shoot on a TF basis, work out of their own homes (it keeps overhead low), it is good to discuss this before hand.
TALENT vs EXPERIENCE
Years of experience doesn’t always make a good photographer. In fact, some photographers with several years of experience, put out lower quality or less consistent work than “novice” ones sometimes. While experience can certainly have its merit it shouldn’t be the only factor in determining who you shoot with. Let their body of work speak for itself. You might find the best work in someone new in the industry.
It is ALWAYS a good idea to do some research on any potential photographer you shoot with. If you recognize any of the models in their portfolio reach out to them and see how their experience was. If you’re reviewing pictures on social media; are the models tagged or have they commented on the pictures? This can be an easy way to get a good “read” on whether or not the photographer is worth working with. Google is a good research tool as well. It’s also good practice to request references directly from the photographer. They should have at least few they can send you.
Does the correspondence you have with them leave you confident that you would be working with a quality professional? If your correspondence isn’t over the phone (email, text, messenger platforms) How responsive are they? Do you feel like your questions are answered in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities?
Finding a photographer with whom you can communicate openly and who can understand your style and personality is critical to great photos. If you’re not it will show in your work and you’re wasting everyone’s time.
Any professional photographer should have a copy of their model release handy. It is good to review this release prior to your shoot date. See our previous post about model releases so you know what to look for.