Photography by Studio EnVogue – Dothan, Enterprise and Ozark Alabama

Choosing your photographer

With today’s MEGAPIXEL MANIA and practically everyone now owning a Digital camera, it’s getting more and more difficult to know if you’re hiring a true professional. In FACT, it isn’t the number of MEGAPIXELS that make a professional photographer, it’s what you DO with them that matters… The world’s most advanced and detailed FILM was useless in the wrong hands and so are MEGAPIXELS! Picking up the lastest DSLR and starting a part-time business is EASY, but learning how to take PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS is another issue… Here’s a few questions you may want to ask to help make certain you are investing your time and money with a true professional.

How long have they been a “professional”? You’ll want to know how long they have been a PROFESSIONAL, not how long they’ve ‘been taking pictures’… Taking pictures since you were a child doesn’t make anyone a professional… Taking the time to build an amazing portfolio (of people, not just landscapes and flowers) and having a strong client base would be a good sign that you are dealing with a PRO. You’ll want to review MANY examples of any potential photographer’s work and if you’re not TOTALLY THRILLED, you will want to look elsewhere. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to ask for references!

What kind of professional training do they have? Professional photography requires truely technical skill and to accomplish it on a professional level advanced training is a must!

Do they have any kind of certifications or other professional credentials? Many are offered; few are received… Less than 3% of photographers ever accomplish professional certification and I am proud to be one of them! I am also a proud member of Professional Photographer’s of America and Professional Photographers of Mississippi and Alabama.

Are they fully Licensed? Do you really want to do business with someone who hasn’t done this? Chances are if they haven’t applied for proper licensing, they most likely have not made arrangements to pay sales tax either. I’m betting they won’t be in business very long!

Do they have liability insurance? What if your wedding images are corrupted or damaged? Is your photographer covered? Or, worse yet, what if someone is injured during a photo session? What happens then? I’ve seen people trip over cords, lightstands and even fall off of tables! I’ve even seen a strobe light explode. You never know what can happen!

Do they have a Studio? Many new shooters claim to specialize in ‘outdoor’ photography, but often this is because they do not have a permanent studio and have not learned professional studio lighting techniques. MOST well trained photographic artists will JUMP at the opportunity to fine tune their abilities to manipulate light indoors or outdoors and NEVER pass up an opportunity to work in a studio. Many up and coming photographers often rent studio space on an “as needed” basis just to practice their skills. Beware of those who claim to offer better pricing because they work strictly “on location”… Photographers who have access to a studio generally have a wider range of skills, have more return clientel and can many times offer much better pricing than you may think!

What kind of equipment will be used and do they have back-up equipment?
Hint: a Canon Rebel, XTI or NIkon D40-D70 were not designed to produced professional images. Also, professional LENSES are just as important as the camera itself…

What professional LAB or PROFESSIONAL PRINTING method will be used?

What PROFESSIONAL type of paper is used and what is the longevity of the images?
Hint: Many new photographers use mini-labs and may even have your images printed at a pharmacy or discount store as they may not have enough business to open an account with a reputable Professional Lab. Beware of the fact that you may just get what you pay for when it comes to hiring the photographer who is not well established and is offering DISCOUNT PRICING!


Cindi K

4 Comments so far
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HAHAHAH I LOVE this!!! O how I have wanted to say this very thing so many times…. And I just love it with other “photographers” email me asking very basic photography questions, and then I see they are charging people for portraits. I do not know how they get away with it!!

Comment by Nicole Everson Photography

To the person who sent me the nasty email about this page:

First off, this post was not intended to “bash” any other photographers (“up and coming” or otherwise) in the area. It was intended to educate and inform potential clients about the “so called” photographers who literally go out and buy a new camera and then suddenly decide to advertise themselves as a “professional”. Fact is, the digital age has brought many new photographers into the fold and many of them will never learn how to shoot on anything other than automatic camera settings.

As far as how I got my start… I worked for other photographers and learned most of what I know from them. Many times I volunteered my time in order to have a chance to learn what I love. I took some classes and then I started building my portfolio (before calling myself a pro) and even then I turned around and invested in yet MORE EDUCATION.

Also, in regards to my supposedly not supporting those who are trying to get starting in this business: Oh how I would love for to ask any the FOUR “up and coming” photographers who I am currently mentoring about this. I’m sure each and every one of them would enjoy correcting you on your assumptions! One of my students is shooting with a professional grade camera and lens that I GAVE to her because she went through a terrible divorce and is still putting her life back together. These individuals are taking the right steps in becoming a pro and not just jumping out there before they know how to properly control, manipulate and use light to create truly superior images.

I’m sorry that you took this page the wrong way. If you are indeed a true professional as you claimed to be in your email then let me reassure you that this page was not intended for you. I am left wondering though why any true professional would be so angered by my attempt to educate the general public when it comes to avoiding those who proclaim themselves to be professional just because they went out and purchased a nice camera. After all, who would hire a mechanic just because they have a nice shiny new set of wrenches? Having nice equipment will not make anyone a true professional at anything.

Finally, had you supplied me with something other than a fake name and email address, I would have gladly responded to you directly. But, I suppose I should thank you for the opportunity to once again publically voice my opinions on this matter.

-Cindi K McDaniel, CPP

Comment by Cindi Kay

Cindi- You are so right in both of these post, People kill me when they get a new camera or even some cases a studio and instantly become Pro!! I LOVE to take photos every chance I get but am years away from Pro!! To me you have to have some time under your belt before you can claim Pro and actually charge Pro Prices. I’m glad you are letting people know what to look for in a photographer and think that people who have not done their time, need to be up front with the people they are photographing and plain out say “I’m still learning” After all as any kind of photographer Pro or Newbie We should always be open to learning from others. You go Girl!! Keep those “privileged photographers” that turn insta Pro overnight in their place… and IF THEY get mad that just means YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD GIRL!!

Comment by Robin Walker

This is great advice. I find is so frustrating to see the ever increasing Craigslist pro photographer.( not that there is anything wrong with Craigslist). You have said completely what I would love to say. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Can i quote you on what you have wrote :).

Comment by eyecatchers08

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