It's hard to know whether the person you're hiring is the right professional for you. I've put together a list of questions that you should ask of any professional photographer you're thinking about hiring, in addition to looking at their portfolio. I'll also provide my answer to these question.
1. How much does the session cost and what do I get for the fee?
It might seem forward to start with this question, but since every photographer structures their sessions differently, charges different rates and delivers different products, it's an important first step. Consider that some photographers charge for the session but have a requirement that prints be purchased after the session, other include the digital images with the session, and others have pre-set packages of time and products the you purchase all together.
I charge based on the length of the session, regardless of how many people are in the photos. You can find my rates on my services page. As for the final product, I deliver digital images in an online gallery, that my clients can download and share. I offer a print release as well as the option to purchase prints and products directly from the gallery.
2. What can I use the photos for?
The rights you get with the photos are important. Are you allowed to edit the photos? Is that something you'd need to do? Can you share them online? Print them on your own or through the photographer's lab? Are your rights for personal or commercial use? Depending on what you need these are important questions to get answered.
I offer sessions for individuals that do not allow editing and allow only for personal use as well as sessions for business owners that allow full edits and commercial use. All sessions come with the digital images and a print and use release. We can chat about what your needs are and pick the right session type to meet those needs.
3. What is your style and how does a session typically go?
Some photographers shoot primarily in a studio or with portable lights, some focus on natural light. Some sessions are more structured with set poses and props, and some are "lifestyle". These can be important factors in determining if the photographer you're choosing will plan the type of session you're hoping for and deliver the type of photos you'll love for years to come.
I tend to shoot with natural light when outside the studio and don't carry a lot of equipment. I live to use the environment to create the beautiful images you receive. I do offer studio sessions where I do use steady lighting. And for events or indoor sessions I will bring my flashes. I tend toward a more lifestyle approach, though I will help guide you into more posed photos. I prefer to start with something that feels natural and adjust for a more posed and polished look from there, so expect the poses to feel more casual.
4. What is the process for booking the session?
Every photographer has developed a process that works for them. Some will require a deposit, while others will book you without one. Many will require that you sign a contract. Ask your photographer what is required of you and what they will guarantee with your booking. It's also helpful to know what happens if a cancellation is necessary or the weather isn't cooperating? When/how is payment due?
To book with KatFour Photo you can contact me via the website, call me or email me. We will work together to select your location, date and time. I can hold a date tentatively until we have all 3 factors figured out. Once we've settled on everything, I will email over a contract that you can sign digitally. No need to print it! I don't require deposits on sessions or short events. Only events over 5 hours require a deposit. Payment is due on the day of your session. I accept cash and check in person and can send an online invoice to use a credit card. In case you need to cancel or reschedule, please contact me and we'll work it out. Life happens and it's important to be flexible!
5. How do we choose the location of the session?
Different photographers offer different location options for sessions. Some only shoot on location, some have a studio, some offer both options. It's important to know what options are available to you.
I have a small studio in Columbia, MO for children's sessions, small family sessions and primarily headshots. I also photograph on location at local parks, trails, downtown, and even at a client's home or office. If you're not sure about what type of location you'd like you can always take a look at my location guide for ideas.
6. How should I prepare for the session?
Photographers know their region, lighting, locations, props, etc., well and can advise you on preparing for the session. Lean on their experience to help you be ready for your photos.
In addition to planning your outfit, consider getting some pampering. Professional hair or make-up services could be a nice touch that will let you pamper yourself and come to your session looking your best.
Keep an eye on the weather and take that into account. We can reschedule or adjust the location or embrace weather, but preparing for it is essential.
Make sure everyone is comfortable, fed and rested. Tired or hungry participants won't seem relaxed and comfortable in the photos.
Pack a bag for the necessities. Bring tissues or baby wipes and maybe a link roller. Pack snacks and some water bottles. Consider back-up clothes and comfortable shoes. Of course it depends on your session and who's involved. But if there are young kiddos or pets involved, and if there's a lot of walking we need to do, consider bringing these items to keep your mind at ease and keep everyone happy.
7. How long before I get the images?
All photographers have different typical and maximum time frames. Check with your photographer as you're planning your session how long editing will take. It can be important to take this into consideration as you're scheduling your session if you plan to use the images for announcements, holiday cards, or something else special.
My contract states that you will have all the photos from a session back within 4 weeks, and all the photos from an event back within 6 weeks. Typically it doesn't take quite that long to edit the photos, but during the busiest times of year, it does occasionally happen.
8. Do you have suggestions on what to wear?
Different photography styles, locations, lighting, the combination of outfits in the group and other factors can all have an effect on how your outfit will appear in your images. As photographers we often have suggestions for how to best plan what you should wear at your session.
I'm happy to help you select something that will help you feel both confident and show your personality! You can check my blog post on what to wear or my Pinterest page of outfit ideas! If you have ideas for your outfits and want some advice let me know.
9. Can I bring props? Do you already have props? What else should I bring?
Photographers have a variety of preferences on how they conduct sessions and what types of props they offer for your use. Knowing what your photographer typically offers or has experience photographing will help you know what is and is not possible to accomplish. For example living in a windy area and trying to use large balloons for an outdoor session may not work out as planned.
I always welcome my clients bringing props of their choosing to their session, particularly props that help showcase hobbies or interests you have. Sometimes I already have the props you're interested in, so if you're not sure ask. It's also possible that if it is a prop I can keep and re-use I will procure a specific prop you'd like to use.
You should also consider some items of convenience for your session. If your session involves a lot of walking bring a second pair of comfortable shoes. If young children are involved, bring snacks and toys to keep them happy. If you're bringing several objects, consider bring a bag or something else to help you carry everything. There are many other situations, so let's talk about how to plan your session to make it less stressful for yourself.
10. How/when should I pay for my session?
This can vary from photographer to photographer, with some requiring that you prepay for the entire session, some require a deposit and then the remainder of the payment at session time and others have other policies.
I require payment at the time of the session. Deposits are only required for longer events. At the session you can pay with cash or a check. If you'd prefer to use a credit card, just let me know and I will email you an invoice. While I accept prepayment if you'd prefer that, I recommend waiting until the session in case you need to move the session or adjust the session length.
Did I miss any? Are there other important questions you want to get an answer to before booking your session?