A lot of the time people ask me what suggestions or recommendations I can give them when they look for a photographer. It’s usually because the person is not in an area I can get to, or it’s a family member or a friend that wants to pick my brain (even though it hurts sometimes! 🙂 ) When I get this question, I tell most people that choosing a photographer is much like choosing a house or real estate: It’s all about location!
What do I mean by this? Simply put: a photographer can shoot on-location. I see many photographers speak to their ability to shoot on-location, and this is an important aspect of many genres ranging from wedding photography, to band photography, and even architectural work. Heck, last week I did a maternity shoot that was “on location.” So, why is this such an important thing to be able to stake claim to? Three key things come to mind for me:
1. Adaptability – Being able to shoot on location means you can adapt. If the surroundings are beautiful, you can adjust your composition to include elements of the scene to give a sense of time and space to an image. If the surroundings aren’t so beautiful, then it equally means you are able to diffuse things so that you can’t tell where a shot was taken – only that it’s a beautiful shot!
2. Controlling – Yes, being able to shoot on location means you are adaptable, but it also means you can control for a number of factors, and of utmost importance here is the ability to control the light. You can bring flash to fill shadows, or scrims to bring shadows to harsh light. If a photographer can control for the light in a scene – the shot will improve by a factor of ten in most instances.
3. Fundamentals – Given the above two factors are in place, this also usually means that the photographer brings a certain set of fundamental skills to the table. He or she knows an aperture versus a shutter setting, and can likely tell you whether ISO 100 is better or worse than ISO 32000 (depending on the look of course!). Although many like to wax esoteric about photography in abstract terms (myself included), there are certain fundamentals that every photographer worth their salt would and should know. If you can shoot on location, you likely have these fundamentals.
These are just three of the factors that I think about when I see a photographer say they are an “on-location” photographer. Of course the proof is in the pudding, and while I certainly would not pick a photographer solely on whether or not that term is included in their online presence, the ability to back up statements with a solid portfolio (and yes, an interview if you have the time to talk to a potential photographer!)
While we all like to think we have these traits, and in enough of a capacity to “bring it” for any client – let’s face it…some photographers are better than others. Either they’ve got a natural knack for it where others have to work harder at it, or they’ve just simply been shooting a lot longer. Seriously…time means practice, and the more you practice, the better you are at anything! There are photographers who have been shooting for decades and some of us can’t hold a candle to them. Meanwhile, others have been shooting for days, and I often stand in awe of their work. So, consider the above three things when you decide to hang out your own shingle – because people will likely be looking for these traits. Do you have them? Do you have more? Less? Something different? Something new?
What traits do you bring to the table? Or better yet, what traits do you think are important for potential clients to consider when hiring a photographer? The above is just my opinion – but that doesn’t mean it’s the ultimate answer! Am I right or am I way off base? Sound off with your own thoughts as the conversation is always the best part about this blog! Can’t wait to hear what you have to say! Until next time, keep the comments coming – oh yeah, and keep on shooting!