Hiring A Professional Photographer

Appalachian Trail - The summit of Mount Washington during the winter months. Located in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Mount Washington – White Mountains, New Hampshire
 

Hiring A Professional Photographer – The digital era has made it possible for anyone with a camera to profit from photography, hence the surge of photographers in the photography industry over the last decade. The number of photographers in the New England area is mind-boggling! And it really is no surprise consumers of photography and photo editors are fed up with the quality of imagery that is floating around today.

Many consumers of photography (advertising businesses, magazine publications, private citizens, etc.) still do want to hire and work with professional photographers, but the problem is most consumers do not know how to verify if any one photographer is legitimate. Below is a short list intended to help potential photo buyers in their search for professional photographers. You can also use this list to identity possible scams.

1) Ask for credentials
Working photographers and legitimate photography businesses will be able to provide a long list of credentials. Photographers just getting into the business will not have many credentials, but they should have some.

Red Flag – No credentials or refusing to provide any.

2) Google search the photographer's name and / or business
Photographers can be tracked on the internet regardless of their status. Search results will produce many photography related pages for any one photographer or photography business. 

Red Flag – If only one or two results show-up relating to photography, non-photography results or no imagery can be linked to the photographer.

3) Website
Almost all photographers have a website or can be found on one of the numerous image sharing websites these days. A website is used to promote one's work and not having one in this day and age is unheard of.

Red Flag – No website or a website that doesn't relate to photography.

4) Check business with state
Here in New Hampshire, a photographer conducting business under any name other than his or her own legal name must register with the state of New Hampshire. You can verify a business by checking with the New Hampshire business records.

Unfortunately this is less helpful since New Hampshire does not verify what companies are actually performing for services. A registered website design business could have photography listed as their “Nature of Business” even though they never do any photography. However, a legitimate photography business will be registered with the state.

Red Flag – Number 4 is a fine line and you may have to digger deeper to get answers.

5) Look at the imagery 
Volumes can be said about a photographer's work. As a client you are paying for a service, request samples and review the work. 

Red Flag – Refusing to produce samples of photography should be the ending.

Photography Workshops

There has also been a surge of photographers offering photography workshops. Some photographers operate professional quality workshops and take the job very seriously, while other photographers have no business running workshops. Paying $500.00 per day for a workshop is a huge investment, and you need to do extra research to ensure you don’t waste your money.

Most workshops will require you to sign a contract, read it and understand it before signing it. What happens if you can’t attend the workshop because of unforeseen issues? Understand the cancellation policy and the terms and conditions. Does the contract have a clause that states you can’t give any negative reviews on social media about the workshop? And read the reviews about past workshops the photographer has done.

Contact the photographer and ask about the details of the workshop, and ask for credentials. An experienced workshop leader will have an extensive list of credentials. Ask if they will be shooting for themselves during the workshop. A workshop leader who shoots for themselves during the workshop can, not always, impact how much you learn. And compare the fee with what you are getting; the higher the fee, the more you should expect to learn and take away from the workshop.

Do the Research

Most photographers do not have a Better Business Bureau listing so consumers of photography have to take it upon themselves to verify a photographer. The above questions can be applied to any photographer regardless if they specialize in landscape, travel, wedding and portrait photography or offer photography workshops.

And when it comes to workshops, its all about the paying customer (you), not the photographer leading the workshop. So if you do have a bad workshop experience that can’t be worked out with the photographer, file a complaint with the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau of the Attorney General's Office.

Working professional photographers are a proud and respectable group of people who will work hard to gain your business. Hopefully, this information will help you in finding your next photographer.

Happy image making..


 

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Erin Paul is a professional photographer who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

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