How do I choose a photographer?
Choosing a photographer is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. You’re going to be paying hard-earned money for something that should last a lifetime or more, and you want to make sure you get what you’re paying for.
Everyone considers price and quality first, of course, but there are some other things you should ask your photographer before you make your final choice.
- Can I see some samples?
Ask to see samples of the photographer’s style, as well as some samples of the different products that they offer. For example, if you plan to buy a large wall print, can the the photographer show you an example?
Our answer: Of course! We have many samples hanging in our studio or available for viewing. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, please ask.
- Do you have a website?
Do they have a website where you can see examples of their style, read about their offerings, and see how to contact them? Do they engage with their customers online and on Facebook?
Our answer: Our website is www.paulwoodphotography.net and is updated very regularly. Contact information is easily available on our website, and you may contact us via email, Facebook message, text message or phone call. We have an active Facebook page where you’ll find customer images, upcoming events and ongoing discussions.
- How do I choose my photos?
Will you actually be able to see your photos before you order, or does the photographer pick them? If you see them, is it on the back of the camera, a proof sheet, or projected?
Our answer: We offer both options, depending on your preferences. For teams and group events, we can either offer a fast and efficient session where we take several images and choose the best, or a more personalized session where you choose your images on a large screen TV monitor.
For individual portrait sessions, you will always choose the images you want in a viewing either on another day or immediately after the photo session.
- Do you retouch images?
Some photographers offer images straight out of the camera with no retouching at all; others retouch so much that it looks as if they were photographing a Barbie doll. What’s your preference?
Our answer: We retouch all images so that you look your (natural) best. We’ll take out blemishes, redness or any temporary conditions, while leaving (if you prefer) scars or other features that make you who you are. Our retouching is never overdone, and we can increase or decrease the level of editing depending on your preferences.
- Do you guarantee your work?
What happens when you’re not satisfied with the images?
Our answer: We have a 100% satisfaction guaranteed policy. We want you to be perfectly happy with the images you receive, and we’ll do what it takes to make that happen. In the unlikely event that we can’t provide you with photographs you’ll cherish, we will refund 100% of your money and try to recommend someone else who can meet your needs.
- Do you offer lots of choices?
Does the photographer offer a wide range of products, or just prints in several different sizes?
Our answer: We have a huge product list, including photographic prints (standard, canvas, chromalux, metal, etc.) with many different mounting options (mounted, gallery wrap, table-top easel, etc.). We offer digital products (images on CD, slideshows on DVD, online delivery for banner printing, etc.). We can also provide your images on mousepads, coffee cups, ornaments… The list goes on and on.
We also offer in-house custom framing. Once your wall print is delivered, you can pick out your frame from our frame sample wall, holding up frame corners to see exactly how the final product will look.
- Can I alter a package?
Are the photographer’s packages set in stone, or can you substitute items?
Our answer: During the viewing we will work with you to get your exactly what you want at the best price for you. If that means we need to shuffle things in and out of a package, we will.
- Can you shoot in both studio and on location?
Does the photographer offer you the option to shoot in a studio (either a store-front or dedicated home studio), or do they only offer to come to your location? Or do they only offer in-studio sessions?
Our answer: We offer both studio or on-location sessions, depending on your needs and preferences. We have a large studio with many background choices, areas outside and close by the studio for outside shots, or we can travel to a location of your choice.
- Can I share my photos online?
Will the photographer allow you to share your photos via email or on a social networking site?
Our answer: Yes! In fact, we encourage it. We’ll upload your final images (with your permission, of course) to an album on our Facebook page, and upon request, provide you with professionally resized images perfect for sharing via email or on another social networking site.
- Do you use a professional lab?
Does the photographer use a professional lab, or the local drugstore?
Our answer: Our images are printed using a variety of professional labs, depending on the type of product we’re printing. These labs are only available to professional photographers, and not the general public.
- Are you available on my schedule?
Does the photographer have flexible hours, or must you schedule your session during their established hours?
Our answer: While we have established "office hours", we are generally at the studio and open well beyond those hours, and routinely schedule sessions late into the evenings and on both weekend days.
- How long does it take to get prints back?
Does the photographer deliver your prints in a reasonable amount of time, or is it months before you see them?
Our answer: We deliver the vast majority of our work within 4-6 weeks. Some things take less time, like school dances and team photos, and some take a little longer, such as seniors during the busy season.
- Who will actually be taking the photos?
If you book a photographer, will they actually be the ones taking the images, or will there be an employee or intern?
Our answer: Paul Wood is the photographer for Paul Wood Photography. Julie Wood is the business manager and digital artist. If you book us for a session, these are the people you’ll be working with. While we may sometimes have temporary employees, they are for office help or assistants during sessions.
- What experience do you have?
Are you hiring someone who has years of experience, or someone who just got a camera last Christmas?
Our answer: Paul has been photographing for over 30 years. He has been a professional portrait photographer for eight years, and has had extensive professional training (see the next question).
- Are you a member of any professional organizations?
Being a member of professional organizations shows a commitment to ongoing learning, professional development and a particular standard of quality.
Our answer: We are active members of the Professional Photographers of Louisiana, the Professional Photographers of America, and the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. Through those organizations, we regularly attend seminars and workshops, always striving to continue our education and improve both our photographic and business skills.
- Are you operating a legal business?
While this may not be a question you think of asking right away, there are some photographers who try to operate "under the radar" of state and federal requirements in order to reduce overhead and avoid taxes. This is tax fraud, and could subject the photographer AND the client to criminal prosecution.
Our answer: We comply with all local, state and federal business requirements.
- Do you have liability insurance?
What happens if you get injured by a light stand during a session? Can the photographer pay your medical bills?
Our answer: We hold liability insurance at a level recommended by the Professional Photographers of America.
- Are you involved in the community and in charitable events?
While it may not be important for your portraits if the photographer isn’t locally involved, but wouldn’t you rather support someone who supports the community?
Our answer: We are a member of the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce and a business patron of Slidell Little Theatre. We have been involved with and photograph the STARC Christmas show for the last six years. We offer free portraits to those who donate to Locks of Love, and are always looking for new ways to support charitable events.
- What do other people think?
You can either ask the photographer to provide references, or ask around with your friends, co-workers and neighbors. There is no better reliable source of information than someone who has already had the experience.
Our answer: If you’d like us to provide references, please give us a call. Or ask around, plenty of people have been to us and love us! Our goal is not only to provide you with the images you’ll love, but also to provide you with an enjoyable (and fun!) experience during the session.
Do you have any other questions that might be a good fit for this list? Let us know, we’ll post ’em and give you our answers.