You need to hire a professional headshot photographer for some marketing projects coming up. Either you have taken up this daunting task yourself, or your boss has delegated the decision to you. Where do you start to look? Like most, a quick query through Google of 'top photographers near me' or 'best portrait photographer in Toronto' is the starting point. Google returns dozens of websites and options, but how do you narrow it down to the professional photographer who is actually best for you?
We have compiled a list of things you should be looking for:
What do their photos look like? Do you actually like how the images they produce look?
A quick review of the photographer's work might turn up some general concerns like how their portfolio looks. Inexperienced photographers often have a limited portfolio, and on first glance, you will be able to see how comfortable their subjects look. This is an excellent first indicator. If this is a quality and experienced headshot photographer.
How many samples do they have?
The number of images a photographer has available is a good indicator if they are active professionals. A photographer with a limited number of samples may indicate they are new, inexperienced, or their images do not turn out well enough to display.
In addition to the number, is the style consistent? Some photographers if they are new, or inexperienced may be unable to produce consistent images with respect to lighting, colour, how their backgrounds look, or at worst, the photographer may have used stock images to populate their website. This is a big red flag for obvious reasons.
Do their portraits match what is currently in style?
Sometimes, older photographers get stuck in a rut and are unable to adapt to current aesthetic trends. At the moment, moody lighting, soft focus, and muslin backdrops are a thing of the past. Having a portrait that is out of style or out of date will do more harm than good (see What Does Your LinkedIn Profile Photo Say About You?).
Are their images consistent in quality?
Quality is a significant factor that should help you decide which photographer is best for you. Do the images they display look crisp, clean and polished, or are they pixilated, dark, blurry, or does the subject look messy.
Evaluating quality allows you to determine value. A high-quality photographer will give you results that will help you look your best. Not only does quality reflect in their technical ability, or how they pose their subjects, but also post-production and how your images are processed.
A highly skilled photographer will have to rely less on post-production or Photoshop to correct things like lighting, which makes a big difference in image quality, particularly when the image will be displayed in print or large format.
Do their subjects look weird or unnatural?
If the subject looks weird or unnatural, it will come down to two factors. Are they able to make their subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera, and how heavy-handed are they in Photoshop.
A good photographer will understand that most people detest having their photo taken. I personally chalk it up to horrid school portraits and group photos of times past where you had to stay perfectly still for an extended period with a nervous forced smile until your face starts to twitch. This is the hallmark of an unskilled photographer. Top photographers have a way of working with their clients in a way that doesn't feel awkward, uncomfortable or contrived. This is something where we at BusinessPortraits.ca excel at.
The other side of the unnatural card is how a photographer processes and corrects images. We are now in an era where most people have access to a photo editing software in some form or another, so comfort with editing is a lot higher. This leads us to overlook how bizarre it really is when editing goes too far. Many subpar studios rely on filters, and heavy-handed photoshop and or some strange reason a lot of Toronto based portrait photographers make their subjects look like they have flat rubber for skin. We believe you should look like you, and not your robotic android lookalike who is many years younger than you. I can only imagine the shocking encounters some have had after meeting someone in person for the first time after seeing their photo online.
Is their contact info readily available and do they respond to messages?
Like any business, are they available to answer questions and do they take their business seriously? You don't want to be in a situation where a photographer bails last minute. It happens a lot more often than you think, each month we see at least a few rush bookings for those who have been placed in this type of scenario.
Who have they worked for?
The number and type of clients give a hint at the type of work they do. Lots of big-name clients most likely indicate that they are a quality service that is trusted. It also shows that the work they produce is at a level that is consistent with the industry standard.
Do they fit your schedule?
Is the photographer able to work with your schedule? Do they come to you or do you have to go to their studio? Making sure you aren't rushed will have a significant impact on how your portrait turns out.
Cost is also a major consideration, but be wary basing your decision solely on price. This is where my warning of semi-professional or hobbyist photographers goes. True professional photographers understand there is a cost associated with the work they produce. Education, equipment, time, travel are all factors. Years of experience to build a skill will be reflected in the price. If you aren't willing to pay the fair market value, you should not expect to get a quality product.
Years of hobbyist or semi-professionals flooding the market along with access to camera equipment has left many with unrealistic expectations on how much a photographer should cost. Those who are highly skilled do not come at bargain-basement prices, and those who have bargain basement prices won't give you quality.
With these key points, you are ready for the next time you are sifting through Google to find the best corporate photographer near you; you have some criteria to look for and help you choose the photography service that works for you.