So you’re looking for a photographer, and you decide to start with Google. You type in “Southern California wedding photographers” and promply receive 165,327 options.
Ok maybe not *that* many photographers come up, but it sure is a lot. So you spend a couple of hours looking through sites, but all you register is a whole bunch of white dresses and promises of rockstar coverage before you become overwhelmed and decide to go eat a box of Twinkies.
Yes, it’s overwhelming. But you can use websites to get a good feel for a photographer’s work, style, and sometimes even pricing and policies. The website is a virtual portfolio right there in your living room. It’s a valuable tool if you use it well.
To make the process simpler, first review our “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” pages to learn more about how to tell a good image from a not-good image. Let yourself get a little more comfortable with judging what you’re looking at. Is that couple silhouetted at sunset the photographer’s artistic take on the scene, or is it just underexposed? It might be hard to tell from just one image, so take the time to click through a few galleries of a photographer you’re interested in. Picture yourself and your spouse-to-be as the bride and groom – would you be proud to show that image to family and friends? Would you hang it on your wall? If you’ve educated yourself on what a good image is, and you oooh and aaaah your way through several galleries, that Professional Photographer is worth considering further.
Take a hard look at the variety on the site. For a wedding photographer – are there 50 images from the same wedding? Multiple images from the same event could mean the photographer hasn’t shot very many of them. The same goes for family/child images – do you see the same child multiple times throughout the site? And does that child look an awful lot like a miniature version of the photographer, as seen on her ‘about me’ page? A Professional Photographer with a good amount of experience will have enough clients and images to populate website galleries with a variety of subjects.
Is the photographer’s specialty apparent from the contents of the site? Many Professional Photographers will shoot anything to do with people – weddings, babies, family portraits. Others stick to a more narrow field, such as high school seniors. There is no right or wrong. But if a site states that the photographer will shoot your wedding, pets, events, newborn baby, family, maternity portraits, landscapes, water births, your office keg party, any and all commercial products, your newly repainted muscle car, your model portfolio, and the momentous occasion that is the delivery of your new dishwasher, you might be dealing with a Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None. Does it matter? There’s an element of personal preference involved. The Jack Of All Trades could have solid, or even fantastic, work in all the different galleries on his site. With your knowledge of what to look for in a well-executed image, you’ll be able to judge if he does. But like any skill, the more you do something the better you tend to be at it – so the Professional Photographer who specializes in newborns probably has a lot of tricks up her sleeve to achieve gorgeous images with tiny babies, because she does it all the time. The Jack Of All Trades might not have photographed a newborn baby since his own child was born ten years ago.
Are prices listed? Is this Professional Photographer within my budget? Whether or not to list pricing on a website is a personal decision each Professional Photographer makes. You may find complete pricing on some sites. On others, no mention of pricing at all. Still others may give some basic pricing, and ask you to call for more information. Please do not hesitate to do so. The Professional Photographer wants a good fit with her clients as much as you do, and giving her a call opens up a line of communication to determine if your goals, budget, and personalities are compatible with what she offers.