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Frequently Asked Questions

Since choosing a photographer is not an everyday event, here are some of the most commonly asked questions about photography.

What are the advantages of hiring a professional photographer?
A professional photographer will be able to give you the results you want. Generally, most professional photographers will have the right equipment and film for the occasion. Also, they will use a quality color laboratory that is in the business of meeting high professional print quality. More important, a professional photographer is used to working with individuals or groups to ensure that any formal photography session will go seamlessly smoothly. When you think about the cost of photography, remember that the photographer's fee is only part of your investment - losing the magic moments you treasure is indeed the real cost!

So, I want to hire a professional to photograph an event. What next?
Visit photography web sites; then narrow down a list of photographers to call. If you like a particular photographer’s portfolio, that’s a beginning. When looking through sample photography, pay special attention to your own emotional response to the shots displayed. Look for high technical competency. Look for aesthetics. Look for natural lighting. Look for shots without special studio treatment or lighting.  Once you have decided on a photographer whose work you now appreciate, discuss what you want in terms of the emotional appeal you want from the event. Only then should you go into discussing other details.  Do not talk about price first – a cheap photographer is exactly what you will get if you want cheap shots.

What are some of the things I should watch out for when hiring a studio with many photographers on the panel?
Once you have established that a particular studio is available for your date and location, you will want to confirm, "If we select you, will you be the photographer for that day?" Some studios have several photographers and you may be speaking to the wrong photographer or worse, to a well-trained salesperson. Worse, the sample albums you were given to review may have been shot by photographers who do not even work for the studio anymore.  It is very important that you make arrangements to meet with and review the work of the particular photographer who is to cover your event. You should insist to have only that photographer cover your event when confirming the order with the studio.

What about having two photographers to cover one event?
Some studios offer a two-photographer arrangement, where two professional photographers will take pictures at the same time; one will concentrate on formal shots and the other on photo journalism. Other studios may emphasize the relationship aspect that is considered most important; that is, they believe good photographs can grow out of a relationship between the subject and the photographer. For this approach, a second photographer is not recommended.

What do you mean by “good photos are remembered long after cost is forgotten”?
Good photographs will cost but the cost is long forgotten in the years that follow. When you have poured through the photographer's portfolio reviewing candid and formal shots, you will know if this photographer has the technique, style and spirit to be the eyes through which you want to capture that special day.  Needless to say you should determine if the photographer is within your budget, but what you really want from your photos are great memories captured in print.  Look for a photographer whose work moves you.  Look for someone with the eye for details; one who understands natural lighting and picture composition. Look for someone with passion in their work.  If you can find a photographer who can achieve that, you are unlikely to regret your investment, be that it may cost more. When one has invested in everlasting memories, price can be forgotten long after quality is remembered.  

So, how much can good photography cost?
Good photography has no price, some may say. This is because one cannot fix a price for moments you will never again see.  Some people can see the difference between poor photography and good photography and they are willing to pay for it.  Are you one of them?

Expect better photographers to charge higher rates. In other words, it is reasonable for a not-so-good photographer to charge you less for a print. In the same vein, an excellent photographer will charge you more for a print of the same size. This is because you will be getting a better product from the experienced professional. If you are looking for a bargain, you are likely to be investing in mediocre photography.

What about getting photography proofs?
In the past, photographers presented clients with proof pictures printed on special paper.  These would last for a few weeks before fading. Some photographers would give proofs made with the same quality as finished prints but without their retouching, cropping or precise color and density corrections.  Today proofs come usually in digital form - on a website, CD or in a thumb-drive. Typically today, you are likely to view the images on a computer. Only then will you order the photographic prints. Digital printing can be performed over an inkjet or color laser but these photographs will fade decades sooner than professional photographic prints.  The latest photographic papers from Kodak and Fuji have a life-span of over 100 years.

Today, proofs are becoming a liability for the photography industry. This is because uniformed users are copying the proofs and making prints. Photographers today are moving towards proof presentations that protect their copyright. Some proofs come with watermark protection or are sized-down, making copying literally impossible. Online proofing is another solution.

Do I want film or digital capture?
The trend today is digital as it is cheaper to take and store.  Some would still insist on film but these requests are fewer.

What about receiving an album of photography work?
Some photographers offer "Packages" and this is common for weddings.  Each package comes with a set number of studio hours, images and a pre-determined number of final pictures in the album. For some, it might be better to get a package that includes an album because most of us will never get around to assembling our own pictures in albums if we have to do it ourselves.

Who selects the pictures that go in the album?
You usually decide what goes in the album. The photographer is likely to recommend the sequence and size of the pictures so that the album really shows the special occasion the way you want to see it. Some photographers will suggest a layout for the album or design the album with you; they can use computer images to show you what the final album will look like. I recommend that you have a professional photographer oversee design and production of the album.  Why?  A ‘complete photography’ is the combination of images captured and the final design, cropping, color correction and special effects that complement these images. Who else will know these best other than the photographer himself or herself who took the pictures for you in the first place?

What technical details in photographs should I watch out for?
Lighting is an important ingredient for good photographs. The light in photographs should be natural and flattering so that pictures will look three-dimensional. The overuse of on-camera flash can ruin some pictures. You should watch out for flattened faces, harsh reflections off cheeks and foreheads, and dark shadows directly behind or next to the subjects.  These may be the result of too much lighting or improper lighting.  A good photographer is likely to be able to work in almost any outdoor lighting situation without the use of a camera flash.

You should look for a variety in subject size - a mix of distant, medium and close-up shots. Even with group photographs, lighting and posing should be interesting. A well posed portrait should minimize the subject’s flaws and express who the subject is and how he/she/they are feeling. It is usual for the dramatic and scenic images to attract everyone's attention, but you would want photographs that please you personally. The best pictures are those that tell the story as if the photographer was not there.

What else should I look out for when I am looking at a photographer's sample work?
It is important that an album you review should show one event from start to finish, not just a collection of highlights from a dozen different events.  If a photographer assembles and shows the best photos from several events in one album, you are not seeing an accurate representation of the results you might expect.

I don't want any posed pictures, is that okay?
Bad posing (stiff, pointless, uncomfortable, cheesy) is a staple of standard photography but some people will want some posed images in their collection. The best posed pictures are created by a good photographer finding a suitable location -such as an easy access with good lighting and good background- and then allowing people to be themselves while the photographer captures a variety of angles and compositions. As the session progresses, the photographer’s directions and tone-of-voice should help the subjects to show more appropriate emotions, even if it is for photographs which are essentially ‘posed’. 

What can I do to keep the photographer from ruining my special day?
It is important you go over your timeline for the day with the photographer. Find out how long the photographs you have requested are going to take.  If it is too long, consider cutting off some of the required pictures. Alternatively, inform the photographer the way you have scheduled the day, and that he/she is to follow the recommended schedule. In doing so, allow some room for creativity and be open to suggestions.

Suppose I want more copies in a few years?
Obtain the high-resolution digital files, which will either be included in your original quotation or available for an extra fee.  Be mindful that currently no electronic medium will last a lifetime, so you will need to update the media on which you store your images every few years.  If you own the images, you can store these at Yahoo or Gmail since they have large storage boxes.  Still, be sure to back up all your copies, not once but several times, especially if the photos are important to you.

Some photographers request that no one else take pictures during a formal photography session. Is that reasonable?  
Yes. If a photographer is attempting to work quickly through a series of formal pictures, snap-shooters are likely to slow down the process.  Another problem is when there are several cameras aimed at this formal group; the subjects are likely to look at different camera lenses. This diverted attention can ruin a professional picture. Worse, if the professional photographer is using a light-sensing trigger device ("slave") on a second flash, other flashes can trigger his flash, ruining an otherwise well-orchestrated photography session.

What is the difference between Medium Format and 35mm?
Negative size - 35mm negatives are the regular sized negatives. Medium Format negatives are bigger.

For quality, - 35mm top-of-the-line Canon equipment produces very good quality images. Medium Format equipment is better however for any enlargements to be made over 8"x10".

 For Cost/Speed - 35mm is very fast and affordable. Medium format is a little more expensive and takes a little longer to print.

Does my photographer own the copyright of his/her pictures? Do I still have to pay the photographer if I make the copies myself?
The answer is “yes” to both questions. According to law, images produced by a professional photographer are copyright-protected the moment they are created. The law prohibits copying or reproducing copyrighted materials without permission from the owner of the copyright, i.e., the photographer. If you copy or scan your photos, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you transfer the proofs to a videotape or DVD, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you do not feel comfortable paying for these copies, find a photographer who is willing to do the job and sell you the copyright to his/ her work.  Be sure to have this stated in your contract of service.

 

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