So, you've booked the perfect photographer to give you what you're looking for, you've paid your invoice, and you have a date set. You get ready, you're looking and feeling great, and that's all you need in order to create a successful and pleasant experience all around, right? Wrong.
Your photographer is a professional (I hope) and will do everything to make you feel confident and comfortable, and we are usually pretty relaxed and flexible people... However, there are a few things that you can do, as well, to make sure that things go smoothly and no toes get stepped on.
1. Don't be late
It's not about the photographer, though of course being on time is preferred and courteous, we are relatively flexible. Most of us make our own schedules and are sure to leave plenty of wiggle room. The real issue is that being late can cause YOU unnecessary stress. We want you calm, relaxed, and feeling good during your shoot. Often stress will show in your eyes. Also, the later you are, the less time you will have to get good quality pictures because while we do leave wiggle room to keep things slow and get too creative, you don't want to push it too far. The photographer may have other appointments or may have booked your time for the specific lighting. Golden Hour is often used to get the best natural light just before sunset, and if you are late, you could miss it. Plan for potential traffic, find parking and pre-pack any needed supplies. Any pre-shoot appointments such as hair & makeup should be scheduled earlier in the day and not directly before your portraits.
2. Don't expect perfection, go with the flow
Whether it's a portrait session or a family shoot, you can't go in with a pre-scripted experience in mind. It's a wonderful, and often helpful, idea to go in with a few poses or specific shots in mind,
however, for the most part, it's more than okay to allow your photographer to guide your session. We do these shoots often, and we have a good catalog of fun and flattering shots in our heads to work with. We can also use the time to get to know your family, and their specific personalities, to find shots that will look and feel the most natural. Children are also a huge factor in this. They rarely have the ability to follow a plan flawlessly, and that's okay! They are true pros at just being themselves and allowing for some amazing candid shots. But there are also kids that can be very shy and feel nervous in a situation where there is a camera being shoved at them by a stranger. We need the flexibility to work with them and find what makes them laugh, and what they feel most comfortable with. The less stress and obsession over perfection, the better the photos and the experience.
3. Don't try to dictate or direct your photographer
I understand that you have a vision. I understand that you think you know what your best angle is. I understand that you may think little Timmy needs to sit and keep his hands nicely in his lap for that perfect shot that you were dreaming of, but... please, do not talk over your photographer. Please do not tell us where to stand or stand behind us yelling instructions. It is overwhelming and stressful for everyone, and it makes us feel that you don't trust us to do our jobs properly. We are professionals, we know all about angles and composition, and you hired us for a reason. Allow us to do our jobs, and just allow yourself to have fun.
My husband recently had an experience with a client he was photographing the menu for. My
husband arrived at the restaurant and was feeling good about the shoot. While setting up for the shots, the client kept approaching him and making suggestions of how to photograph his food. He rearranged his setup and was not allowing my husband to do what he was hired for. My husband eventually stopped trying, set his camera on the tripod, and would wait for the client to set the food down and he would push the button.
When you don't trust the photographer it becomes very hard for them to be passionate about the photos they are taking. Make sure to mention any shots you really want to see when booking the shot and the photographer will do their best to make it happen.
4. Don't, I repeat, do not, edit our photos
This is a big one. This is one of my, and many other photographers', pet peeves. Every photographer has their own style, and when you are looking to hire a photographer for your photo session, that should involve looking at the photographer's portfolio and choosing them based on their work. A lot of our business comes from social media these days. If you post our photos, and someone else happens to like what they see, there is a good chance they will hire us for their future photography needs. However, in the days of Instagram filters and apps like VSCO, everyone seems to feel it
necessary to add to and edit any photo that they post on social media. Same with photo editing software. Everyone has access to Lightroom and Photoshop, but you do not have the right to edit someone else's art, and without the raw files, it will not look as good anyway. When you do these things, you are misrepresenting our work. It is no longer our photo or our unique style. A large part of photography is post-processing, getting the lighting, color, and saturation just right. It's a slap in the face to your photographer to do all of that work to deliver you a beautiful and well-balanced, clean photo, only to have you slap Mayfair on it and turn everything orange. On the contrary, if you do have an opinion on, or something you would like changed, feel free to message your photographer and ask politely for the change. You are the one who paid for these photos, and we are here to deliver you a product that you are happy with. Just leave it to us, please.
5. Don't forget to credit and review your photographer
Please and thank you. 😉