The Right Fit

FINDING THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER

Finding the right photographer can be a daunting task. Much like dating, you have to really do your homework and figure out what it is you want. There are so many photographers in Winston Salem and each has something special to offer. So the question becomes, how do you decide which photographer is right for you?

Maybe you are just starting this journey or maybe you have done your homework and have your choices narrowed down. While there are many things to consider, these are some of the more important (and often overlooked) things to keep in mind:

ARE YOU COMPATIBLE?

This is such a broad question, I know. It’s also one of the most important questions to ask yourself. You have browsed Pinterest, you’ve looked through thousands of pictures and you know exactly what you want your session to look like, right? Put all of your images in one place together. Do they match in style or does it look like your board has multiple photography personality disorder?

It’s easy to get distracted when pinning images that you love. It’s important to ask yourself what you love about each image and why. Is it the pose? Is it the colors? Is it the styling? Narrowing this down and understanding what you are really drawn to will help guide your decision in hiring your photographer.

With this new understanding in hand, start looking at your options and their portfolios. Which one best matches what you love? Photographers are like men, ladies. Try as you might, you cannot change them to be what you want. Instead, you must find the right match from the get-go. Even if your friend referred you to their amazing photographer, really look at their portfolio and ask yourself, “Is this me? Will I love images like this in my home?” If you aren’t sure then maybe that is not the photographer for you.

Another facet of compatibility is personality. Does your photographer of choice have time for you? Do they take the time to call you after your inquiry? How quickly do they respond to emails with questions or concerns? Do you have the option to meet them before the session? Is that important to you? These are all important questions to ask. Kim Shouse Photography is a full service boutique studio, meaning I walk my clients through every step of the process myself. You get my undivided attention from initial inquiry through product delivery. This also means I limit my sessions. Not everyone wants that from their photographer. It’s important to know what level of service your photographer of choice is prepared to offer and whether that fits your needs.

WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO OFFER?

This might seem like a fairly obvious question to ask, but the trick is to delve deeper. Every photographer offers pictures. I mean, that’s why they’re photographers. What you have to ask yourself is, “What do I want from this experience?”

That in itself is important to figure out. For instance; do you want to travel to a studio or have someone come to your home? Not every newborn photographer travels and not every photographer has a studio. Do they supply props or is that your responsibility? How much of a prop selection do they have available? What is their turnaround time on images? Some photographers shoot, edit, and deliver in a week, while others take up to six weeks or longer. Is it important to you to have newborn announcements quickly? Yes? Then this becomes a hugely important question to ask. There is no wrong or right answer here in terms of the photographers themselves. This is truly all about what is important to you.

While we’re on the topic of what is important to you… What images are you most hoping to get? Do you want images of your whole family? Is the sibling picture your heart’s desire? Or, are you all focused on this child? Do you see these types of images in their portfolio? Every photographer has their own policies on what is included in their typical session. It’s important to be able to discuss these desires/needs and to make sure you are both on the same page.

What do you plan to do with your images once you see them? If your goal is an album or something to hang on your walls, you’ll need to make sure your photographer offers those products. Not every photographer offers products to their clients or has established relationships with labs and that’s okay. It’s important to know what your goals are going in, so that you can find a photographer that offers the products you’re after. If you only want digital files it may be more cost effective to find a photographer that doesn’t offer products as those that do often bundle their digital files into packages.

Clients that come to Kim Shouse Photography are looking for high-end, fine-art products, not only their images on a disc. Digital files are secondary to the artwork and as such I have built my packages around this idea. What you will not find is an option to get all of your digital files alone with Signature Sessions. Why? Because my focus is providing you with something archival and beautiful. That is what inspires me as an artist.

ARE THEY LEGIT?

I can almost promise you that this question does not cross the mind of most people searching for a photographer, but it should and here’s why:

A photographer who has taken the time to start their business correctly (licensing, insurance, permits, etc) truly cares not only about themselves, but also their clients. They have invested their own money to make sure everything is being done on the up-and-up. As a business owner it is my responsibility to make sure my assets and my clients are protected. I value each and every family I work with enough to want to present myself as professionally as possible. What’s interesting to me is that I have rarely been asked if I was insured. This is so, so, so, important! God forbid something happens in your session and your child is injured. What happens if your toddler accidentally knocks over a studio light and it breaks? Are you on the hook for that? Don’t you want to be working with someone that has insurance to cover any associated costs?

TRAINING. DO THEY HAVE IT?

I’m going to refer to newborn photography specifically here.

Newborn photography is an art in itself. As with any other art type it requires training and lots of it. Unlike most types of artists, newborn photographers are not only creating beautiful images, they’re also handling your tiny new baby. I know, I know; you’re thinking, “How hard could this possibly be? The baby is asleep for crying out loud!” That’s where you’re wrong. True professionals are professionals because they make it look easy. I promise you, it is not. While styles differ (lifestyle vs. posed, neutral colors vs. bright colors, props vs. no props) they all have one thing in common; they’re handling your baby. That’s right, for 2 – 4 hours you will be entrusting this person to handle the very thing most precious to you. You better be darn sure they know what they’re doing!

I have invested countless hours and dollars into making sure I handle your little ones safely, along with having the know-how to capture those beautiful images you’re after. There is so much more that goes into posed newborn photography. Camera techniques, lighting techniques, and posing techniques combine in your photographer and make them the artist you want to hire. I have photographed countless babies and in the process I have learned how to read each child. I never force a baby into a pose because, while it’s always my goal to get beautiful images for my clients, I am never willing to do it at a baby’s expense. In truth, you shouldn’t have to put a baby in a dangerous position to get gorgeous images. I find that simplicity is always best.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT, RIGHT?

This is always a personal question to really delve into. Everyone has a budget and it’s important to understand yours and your priorities in getting your family’s pictures taken. In a world where there are photographers on every corner and in just about every price point, how do you choose? The age old adage comes to mind here, “You get what you pay for.” It’s as true here as it is anywhere. Think about what you want from your session. Think about the images you hope to have hanging on your walls or in a beautiful album. I know there is a photographer in your neighborhood that charges pennies for 40+ images on a disc, but ask yourself, “What am I going to do with 40+ images on a disc?”

Look at their portfolio. Can you imagine their images on your walls? Maybe your answer here is yes, but if it’s not, then you need to keep looking. When you hire a photographer you are hiring their experience, training, talent, style, and customer service. If you have found a photographer you love, it’s important to understand the journey that photographer has gone on to get them to the place they are now; creating the images you are drawn to. Talk to them about what they have to offer. Investing in a properly trained photographer will absolutely make a difference in the images you receive and the experience you have in the process.

As a photographer I invest anywhere from 20 – 40 hours in each of my clients from start to finish. I design each session to be unique to each client. I take my time working with your little ones to ensure their safety and comfort. I make sure my studio is stocked with snacks and drinks for my clients. I clean and sanitize everything I plan to use before each session. I hand edit each image in your gallery and then present it to you in an in-person viewing. I make myself available to my clients through the whole process. These are the things I value in my business. This is what I love to do!

Hopefully this little (ok it’s pretty big, I’m sorry) guide will help you find the perfect fit for you and your family. You get this opportunity one time with your children. They will never be little again. Make sure you are choosing the right person to capture these moments for you.