Updated: May 14, 2020
We are all emotional creatures. We feel excited, scared, and insecure sometimes when we are placed out of our comfort zone—especially when we have no experience in doing something for the first time or when talking to a stranger. It is natural to feel a bit scared when you are looking to hire a photographer.
You might be unsure about what to ask. Or feel like you are being vain for wanting portraits and that makes you feel embarrassed. You might be scared to ask a photographer for their fee to only find out that they are out of your price range.
As a photographer I want you to feel as comfortable about the process as possible. You also should never feel vain about wanting portraits either. Portraits help to document our life experience so we remember special moments.
Some photographers will post their rates on their website and others will require you to request a quote. Do not be afraid to contact a photographer if their rate is not posted. Some photographers do this because the like to custom-tailor packages that will fit a client’s budget. Most photographers will be flexible with their pricing as long as you are flexible with what they offer for your budget.
So here are some encouraging tips to get a conversation started with a photographer:
Tell the photographer what service you are interested in and why.
The dialogue can go something like:
Hi, my name is __________. I saw your business online and I would like to find out more information to decide if you are a good fit for what I’m looking for.
Let the photographer know what you are looking for:
I need headshots to use on LinkedIn to help me get a new job.
I have a business and need photos taken of _________ to use for marketing.
I want portraits done of my kid because __________.
We have a family gathering coming up and I would like to have portraits done of the whole family. There will be about ____ people.
Tell the photographer why you chose them:
I really like the ____________ photo that I saw on your website. I like the lighting but would like to know what background or location options I might have.
My friend ____________ referred me to you. I like ___________ about your work.
Ask about the packages they offer and for their rate:
What type of packages do you offer for a _________ session?
What do you charge for ____________?
What does that include?
If the rate is beyond what you budgeted by $200 or more, it might be best to tell the photographer what your budget is before wasting any more time to see if they have anything else they can offer you. Most photographers do their work for a love of photography and do not make much money doing it. Remember a photographer is not just charging you for the time you are sitting in front of the camera. They are spending time with you booking your session, giving you a consultation, and processing the photos after you leave. Plus they also have other business expenses such as marketing, insurance, permit, and equipment fees. Think of your portraits as an investment.
Sorry your rate is more than what I budget. Do you have any other packages more within my max budget of $____.
If their rate seems reasonable and close to what you budgeted, here are some questions you might want to ask before booking them:
How do you define a look?
How many photos do you take per session?
How do you deliver the proofs and the final photos?
Do you offer digital jpegs that I can print on my own?
Do you offer prints and are any included in packages?
How many photos do I get from the session?
Do I get to choose the photos or do you select them?
Do you offer retouching? What do you usually retouch? Is it included?
Agree on a location:
Do you have a photo studio or do you shoot on location?
Where do you like to shoot?
I have a location in mind. Can you shoot there?
Let the photographer know about any concerns you have:
I am not sure what to wear. Would you be able to give me some advice for a wardrobe once we book a session?
I am in the process of getting dental work done. Can you retouch my teeth or should I wait until it is done?
If you like what you are hearing so far, the next step is to ask about booking:
I would like to book a session. How do I do that?
What is your availability? I would like to have the photos done around ______.
What are your payment terms?
Do you prefer cash or can I pay by credit card or check?
Hopefully you feel a little more at ease now that you have an idea about how to start a conversation and know what types of questions you should ask when booking a photographer. If you are looking for a photographer in the Los Angeles area, be sure to check out my portfolio and give me call if you like what you see!