7 questions to ask a photographer before booking them

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Here’s a secret about photographers that absolutely no one tells you: it’s okay to ask us questions! In fact, we appreciate when you ask us questions because it shows us you’re a serious client who knows what they want. And asking us questions give us a chance to get to know you better, understand what you’re looking for and help set expectations so our work together is the absolute best it can possibly be.

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Here’s 7 questions you should ask a photographer before booking him or her:

1. How long have you been photographing professionally?

You wouldn't go to a doctor who just dabbled in surgery when he or she felt like it, and you shouldn't go to a photographer who doesn't have a clear, quick answer for this. If you’re wanting quality photos of yourself, your wedding, your family or whatever else you might need, this should be your first question. Keep in mind that prices should reflect the photographer’s abilities – and that isn't just abilities when taking the photos. It also includes the attention to detail they put into their editing process, their careful curation of the very best photos from your shoot and turning it all around in a reasonable amount of time.

2. What happens if there is a problem during our shoot?

Ask what the back-up plan is! Cameras and lenses aren't perfect. Sometimes they malfunction. Does your photographer have a back-up camera at the ready? What happens if you’re scheduled to shoot outside and the weather is bad? Asking these questions up front helps set everyone’s expectations for the shoot and keeps everyone on the same page.

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3. Where can I see your portfolio?

Photographers want you to see their work! Look for their portfolio on their website, and as you look through the photos ask yourself if that photographer’s style fits your own. Look for consistency in their work as well. If their portfolio seems super inconsistent, that's a red flag. Either the work isn't their own or you'll have no way of knowing what style photos you will be getting.

4. Is tax included?

Even the shoot and burn photographer is required to pay sales tax on anything they do. If they aren't, they are operating illegally.

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5. Do you have insurance for your gear/yourself/your work?

Ask if your photographer has insurance for his/her gear - always. Much like home or car insurance, photographers have insurance to cover their gear and get it repaired or replaced quickly should something break.

Photographers should also carry insurance that covers themselves if they are negligent and hurt you, your child, your family or your property while out on a session. They should also carry malpractice insurance, which allows you to get a full refund should they not deliver your photos to you for any reason. Professional Photographers of America offers all these types of coverage.

6. Will I receive a written contract?

Ask where the agreed upon details of the shoot will be documented for your records. Some photographers do contracts. I include all my policies and practices in my invoices when a client is paying their booking fee for their session or event. I never accept payment without this paper trail so that clients know what to expect, know what's included and know when they are going to get it. It also outlines my cancellation policy as well as other policies held by my studio.

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7. How are my photos backed up in case I need a replacement?

After receiving photos from your photographer, you should always keep them a minimum of two places in case a computer crashes, a website crashes or you lose the original file delivery method. (Like the USB drives I use.) In addition, photographers should keep all their work backed up in a minimum of two places. (Paranoid people like me back up in 5-7 places.)

What other questions would you ask your photographer? Share them in the comments with me!

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