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9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Portrait Photographer

When choosing a portrait photographer, it’s important to understand not only whether they’re a good fit for you and the type of photos you want to get out of your session, but also what their session fee includes and what additional fees you may incur. In order for you to get images that you’re sure to love, you need to find the right photographer for you. These nine questions are a great way to help you determine if you’ve found the perfect photographer to capture your portraits.

What types of photography do you specialize in?

“Portrait” is a broad term that can refer to everything from family photos to styled individual images. While some photographers offer a wide variety of sessions, others specialize in just a few specific types of photography. Before you book a photographer, make sure that they offer the type of session you’re looking for. You may even want to ask what types of sessions they enjoy most as passion for a particular type of photography can translate to fantastic images.

What does your session fee include?

Every photographer has their own way of setting up pricing. Some have set packages that include a specific number of images or hours of shooting, while others create custom packages depending on each client’s needs. Most photographers charge a session fee, but what this includes varies from business to business. In many cases, the session fee only covers the photographer’s time and talent and does not include any images or products. Be sure to understand what the session fee includes before you sign a contract.

Can you tell me about your process?

Asking this question is a great way to get to know your potential portrait photographer and how they work. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but it’s important to understand what you can expect from your photographer and how they will get the best possible images out of you in order to determine if they will be a good fit for your portrait session.

How would you describe your style of photography?

Most photographers have a specific style of images they tend to create. This could be dark and moody or light or airy. Some photographers may focus on candid images, which is also called photojournalistic or documentary photography. If you have a specific vision in mind for your images, it’s important to find a photography who can help bring that vision to life.

What are your terms and conditions?

Before you sign a contract with anyone, you should know what that contract includes. Talk to your photographer about their policies for cancellation or postponement because you never know what circumstances might arise that could force you to cancel your session. Terms and conditions also include deposits, payment terms and license and usage rights.

What will you do to help me feel comfortable in front of the camera?

Most of us aren’t used to having our photo taken, and it can cause a little anxiety. If you’re worried about how you’ll feel during your portrait session, ask your photographer how they will help put you at ease. Every professional photographer should have a clear plan for helping clients feel comfortable. If they put all the responsibility on you to prepare, that’s a definite red flag, and you likely want to work with someone else.

Can you give me posing guidance?

Along with helping you to feel comfortable, your photographer should be prepared to direct you into different, natural poses. You should never wonder What do I do with my hands? A professional knows how to gently guide and adjust you to create images that capture your authentic personality—photos you will want to share with everyone you love.

Can I see examples of your work?

You’ve likely already seen some of the photographer’s work on their website or social media if you’ve done your research, but it also helps to see galleries from other portrait sessions. Ask if you can view a full gallery or see more of their images to get a better idea of their style and if it fits what you’re looking for in your portrait session.

What is the usual timeline for your sessions / receiving images?

Understanding how the actual portrait session will go can help ease nerves and give you a better idea of what to expect. Ask your photographer to briefly walk you through how your session time will be used and don’t be afraid to ask questions! You can also ask for a rough estimate on how long it takes to get your final images. Don’t be put off if the turnaround time is a little long—that just means they’re putting even more work into your photos!

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