Questions to ask your photographer before your session

You’ve decided to hire a photographer. Perhaps you are about to get married or have a baby. Maybe you just want to capture your growing family or maybe you need professional headshots. Regardless, you’ve decided that selfies and photos taken by your smartphone just aren’t cutting it anymore.

So you find a photographer whose work you just love, and you call him or her and make an appointment. The photographer asks you some questions about what style of photos you want, who will be in the photos, where you would like to take them and what outfit changes you might like. But after you hang up from your initial consult with the photographer, you still feel a little nervous. Here are five questions that you should ask your photographer:

  1. How long will the session last? There is usually a time limit (and for photos of children, that time can fly, so it’s good to know that in advance.) A good photographer will manage the session time well, but it may be helpful for you to keep in mind as the session progresses. This question applies to wedding photography as well—make sure you find out how many hours your photographer will dedicate to you on your wedding day.
  2. Can I bring a favorite prop or other item to include in the photos? The answer will usually be yes, but it’s better to tell a photographer in advance that you plan to bring a prop, especially if it is large or unusual.
  3. How soon will I be able to review the images? How will I review them? Many photographers will have some sample images for you to review first, followed by the full album at a later time.
  4. What will happen to the images after I complete my purchase? How long will you store the images?
  5. What if the session just doesn’t go well? This applies mostly to photographers who capture images of children and families. If you arrive for your shoot and little Bobby refuses to let you put him down, or little Suzy just will not smile, what will your photographer do? Most photographers have lots of tricks to make a session successful, but sometimes, it just doesn’t go as planned. Find out in advance how the photographer will handle that situation.

Of course, you will have other questions for different types of photo shoots. For your wedding, you should discuss a “must have” shot list. For corporate headshots, you should discuss style in detail–the corporate headshot that you submit to a professional publication may be different from the one that you post to the company’s website, for example.

Regardless of the reason for our photo shoot, it is important to ask questions early and often. After all, the better your photographer knows you, the more your photographs will reflect your wishes!

September 5, 2014Permalink Leave a comment

What does a photographer do in January?

Happy (belated) New Year!  The end of 2012 was a very busy time for Michelle Deemer Photography!  I had a very busy fall with photography sessions several times per month from October through December.  On a personal note, my family capped off 2012 with a wonderful extended family trip to Disney World and a truly warm and memorable Christmas.

Of course, after Christmas, we turned the calendar to 2013 and welcomed January, the worst month of the entire year.

I hate January.  I really, really hate January.  It’s my least favorite month.  I can’t stand the cold.  There’s nothing exciting about January, and it’s always a big letdown from the fun of the holidays.  I just hate it.  I don’t like February much either, of course, but I can usually get through it by reminding myself that it’s a short month.  And even if March is cold (as it often is in Pittsburgh!), I spend the entire month chanting the mantra they taught us in Kindergarten: “in like a lion, out like a lamb.”

But there are no cute sayings for January.  It is the most depressing month of the year.

And it was made more depressing by the fact that I had no photography clients in January 2013.

My Puggle, LeoNow, January-March tends to be the “slow” season for photographers anyway, so this is not entirely unexpected.  And my day job was actually VERY busy, so it was probably a bit of a blessing in disguise, but I still found myself missing the fast-paced photography schedule I kept from October through December.

So I decided to take advantage of the “lull” and sharpen my skills a bit: I took a photography class through Flying Photo School, an online photography program.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did learn some new tips and tricks, so it was definitely worth the time, money and effort.  It also forced me to take pictures like the one at right. This is my puggle, Leo, and the photo was taken in very low light, but you probably can’t tell, right?  Thanks to this class, I learned how to deal with difficult lighting without always turning to my flash.

I also used some of the tricks from the class to take this photograph of my dad and my two sons.  I think this may be my new favorite Grandfatherphoto of these three, because I just love how they are looking at each other and clearly having a good time.   Honestly, this picture should be posted next to the word “grandfather” in the dictionary!

So even though I absolutely hate the month of January, I made the most of it.  Thank goodness it’s February.  At least it’s a short month!

One final note: just because many people do not hire lifestyle, on-location photographers in the coldest months of the year, that does not mean that you can’t!  If you’re considering booking a session with Michelle Deemer Photography, give me a call today.  Winter can be a truly beautiful time to capture memorable photographs for your family!  I’ll even bring along the hot cocoa!

How many people can I bring to my photo shoot?

I often receive questions from my clients about how many people they can invite to participate in a photo shoot.  Sometimes the request is to include Grandma and Grandpa or aunts, uncles and cousins in a family picture. Posed whole group family photos Sometimes the request is for me to take pictures of all of the guests at a birthday party.  Including a number of guests in a group photo is not a problem, but it is something we’ll have to plan well.  (For this blog post, all images were taken from Leah Smith’s photo shoot.  Leah’s mom did all of the things I recommend before this shoot.)

For this reason, I encourage phone consultations prior to the day of your shoot to make sure we’re on the same page.  I try come to every shoot with a plan in mind for the general order of pictures.  With family photos, the order tends to go like this:

  1. Posed whole group family photos
  2. Candid shots of family interacting, children playing, etc.
  3. Youngest child individual shots
  4. Candid shots of sibling groups/family sub-groups
  5. Posed sibling groups or other family “sub-groups”
  6. Next youngest child individual shots
  7. Older child individual shots
  8. Candid shots of family interacting, children playing, etc.

Candid shots of family interactingYou’ll notice that the goal is to get the most important shots of the youngest child done as early in the process as possible.  If there are more people involved, I change the order up to allow for snack and play breaks.  If you bring extra people, we will just have to plan for more time for the shoot.  Sometimes, that means that a 90 minute shoot will take two hours or more. Generally, I will block off a half day if I know the shoot involves a very large group, just in case we need extra time.

When there are more than 6-8 people involved, that phone consultation beforehand becomes really important, and here’s why:

It’s very, very difficult to get cute picture after cute picture of any child interacting with more than eight people individually in a two-hour window. 

Careful planning pays offThink about it.  What are the odds that any child under the age of four will give you a happy, cute expression over and over again for eight or more different poses/shots in a row?  Pretty slim, right?  So, if you really, really want a picture of dear little Jane kissing her Aunt Mae, I need to know in advance so I can plan for it.  For larger shoots, I like receiving lists of specific shots that my clients would like to see.  I’ll still do some posed shots and plenty of my own candid shots as well, but if there are images that are very important to you, tell me in advance.  I prioritize the most important images first so we have the best chance of getting the images you want before we move on to different poses/activities.

The answer to “how many people can I bring to my shoot” is always “as many as you want,” as long as we can put in the extra planning necessary in advance to make the actual shoot as productive as possible.