If you have just stumbled on my blog, be sure to read the first three parts of this series. You can find the Part One HERE and go from there. If you've been following along, this is the final part of the series on how to choose a photographer.
Looking for lighting issues, such as harsh light and shadows, is a key to determining if you have the right photographer for your situation. This is especially important if you live in the South, where the sun gets high fast and stays high all day!
If there are spots of bright white and dark shadows on the faces of the subjects, we have a problem. This is the epitome of the worst light and shadows. Pictures are made up of light and shadows and they are necessary to a strong image. But controlling where the light and shadows fall is the job of the photographer. You can actually help your photographer out on this one… do morning or evening shoots and avoid the midday sun. Here in South Texas, the sun gets high in the sky VERY early in the summer, then stays up until very late. In this case, 7AM and 7PM are the prime time for photo sessions to begin. Already sent out those wedding invites? Wedding at high noon? That’s okay… no, really. We’ll forgive you. It just means a LOT of extra work! It IS possible to shoot at any time of day. We look for shade. We keep the sun behind you. We avoid mottled shade so there isn’t a spotted pattern on your face. We use a bit of fill flash to eliminate those dark shadows that would have been your eyes. But if you see a bunch of images of people squinting into the sun or images where patches of faces are bright white or where the eye sockets look super dark, then the photographer does not know how to work with the light, but in opposition of it, instead. If you’re in love with the photographer and just really want that person, skilled or unskilled, then choose your time of day wisely.
And finally, it is important to ask your photographer about their gear. Why? I mean, you’ve seen the images on their website and you love them, so… why does it matter? Well, let me share… I used to shoot with a Canon 50D. Does that mean anything to you? Probably not. But it’s a GREAT camera and a higher end crop sensor. Yes… a crop sensor. There are SO many digital cameras to choose from and we start with what we can afford. And a 50D is a MUCH better camera and will produce a much better image than half of what I’ve seen out in the field. Again, it’s a high end SLR… but it’s a crop sensor. What you want is a photographer that shoots with a full frame camera. And here is why: if you plan to put a large image on the wall, a full frame camera will produce an image that will be sharp at larger sizes. Even better, what if you want a tight crop on just a child’s face? A full frame camera makes that possible. Also, a full frame camera produces images with less “noise” or “grain” in low light situations. You get a higher quality image, even without a lot of light. This is important for sharp images.
So, no, it will not matter to you the make and model of the camera. No point in even asking. What you SHOULD ask your photographer is whether they shoot with a crop sensor or a full frame camera. If they don’t know, then they don’t know the most basic thing about cameras. If they shoot with a crop sensor and you don’t want images for the wall, and they’re shooting in a very bright, well-lit situation, then you’re probably alright. But if you’re paying to have large images, to have art on your walls, then it is critical that your photographer has invested in the appropriate gear to make that happen.
I hope this series has been informative and helpful in your decision making process. When it comes down to it, go with your gut. I don’t think most people notice things like horizons and color tones. But once you DO see them, you can never “unsee” them.
You and your family change every year, every month, every day… Don’t lose those precious moments, those memories, those details. Find a photographer you trust by looking for the things that will help assure you that you CAN trust them! And when you find that photographer, let them do their job. Relax and give them the reins. Then enjoy those beautiful images on your wall!
"Lori is an exceptional photographer, and was my first choice for capturing images of my son for his senior pictures!! She made him feel at ease immediately, traveled to the locations he was interested in, and captured who he is perfectly!" ~ Tonia R.
Lori Stead is a fine art portrait photographer in Corpus Christi, TX. She enjoys creating maternity, newborn, seniors, couples, family, children, and boudoir portraits. She is also a wife, mother of four, and adventurer.