We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what makes a good child photographer – but what exactly makes a bad one? If you spot any of these signs you might want to keep looking for a child photographer, before it ends up costing you time, money, and frustration.
Sign One: Especially likes their gear
It’s true that photographers can get really attached to their gear. It is, after all, a significant investment and helps them in the production process. Nice gear, however, does not make for a good photographer. Watch for professionals that tout their camera, lenses, or accessories – they may be a bit too dependent on their gear to “create” great photos, rather than operating on skill.
Sign Two: Portfolio twins
Viewing a photographer’s portfolio is one of the simplest ways to get an idea of their talent and style. However, take a good look at the subjects in these images – are there a lot of doppelgangers? Seeing the same subject in a range of images may be a sign that the photographer is not very experienced, so you may want to keep looking for someone who has a few more photo shoots under their belt.
Sign Three: Experience, and then some!
“I’ve shot over 200 families this year!” may sound impressive, but stop and do the math. Does one child photographer really have the time to plan, shoot, and follow up (with post-processing, ordering, customer service, etc.) on that many orders? Sure, they may use assistants for the menial work, but make sure they also aren’t outsourcing the more important tasks, as well. You can usually check online reviews to see just how they manage their work.
Sign Four: It’s a great deal…
In this era of Groupon and other deep-discount coupon sites, we can have a hard time dealing with sticker prices and instead go looking for the next bargain. Take a moment to think – why would someone run a Groupon for photography services? Not because they are uber-successful, that’s for sure. Take a long, hard look at portfolios and reviews for these types of photographers before you commit, or invest in a full-price professional.
Sign Five: Unengaged subjects
Looking at a portfolio (a real one, see below) provides insight into a child photographer’s style and abilities, but also gives you an idea about how the subjects (particularly children) feel about the photo shoot. If the children look unhappy or unengaged, it’s a good sign that the photographer just isn’t that experienced with interacting with his or her subjects to get images that bring out their natural personalities.
Sign Six: “Recommended” by the venue
Take any recommendation by a venue with a grain of salt – they often get paid for referrals or have sold the photographer a “spot” on their recommended vendor list. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t a great photographer, but you’ll need to decide for yourself.
Sign Seven: Amazing portfolio images!
It takes little time and effort to create a professional-looking site and “borrow” some nice images from other photographers and claim them as your own. Do some digging – do they belong to a professional photography organization? Do they have positive reviews on sites like Yelp or Yellow Pages? Some detective work can help to save you a headache, as well as your hard-earned money, in the long run.
This is not an exhaustive list, nor will it be correct 100% of the time. It may, however, help you weed out some bad (or simply inexperienced) child photographers so you can get the best talent available for your budget. Best of luck!