Questions to ask when hiring a Professional photographer Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Questions to ask when hiring a Professional photographer Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Questions to ask when hiring a Professional photographer Northern Virginia Family Photographer


When hiring a professional photographer there are some questions that you should always ask.   Photography is becoming something of a commodity because everyone can take decent  pictures (or so they think)  That means that more and more people are choosing their photographer solely based on price and not taking into account skill level, experience, customer service and reputation.  Hiring someone to capture your family memories is not as easy as looking at a website and asking for pricing.  You want to make sure that the person you are hiring has the skill set, reputation and experience to do what you need them to do.  All photography is not the same.  It takes different skills to take real estate photos vs. newborn photos.  Just like you probably wouldn’t go to a Estate Lawyer to help defend you in a civil matter involving a crime of some sort.

So how do you know what to ask so that you get the information needed to make the best decision regarding your portraiture needs?  Here are a few that are suggested by PPA, the Professional Photographers Association.  They have a list of 8 questions that are great for helping you determine if a photographer that you have your eyes on will be the perfect fit for what you want to hire them for.

1.  Can I see some of your recent work?  Seems like a simple question but remember that photographers only post on line what they are most proud of. It may not be representative of a full job or recent work.  And another thing to consider is that some photographers actually steal work from other photographers and use those stolen images on their website.  Shocking I know, but it does happen.  By asking for samples of their most recent work you will be sure to see the quality of work that is closest to what you will receive if you hire them.  Ask to see an entire wedding or a complete portrait session, not just the ones that they think are best.  By seeing a complete session you will see a pretty good representation of what you will receive.

2.  Are you a member of PPA? I’m not sure if being a member of PPA is a sure fire way to know you are hiring the right photographer but it does indicate that the photographer is connected to an organization that encourages good business practices and continuing education in our industry.

3.  Do you specialize in one type of photography?  Well, most of us do specialize in one or two types of photography.  I happen to specialize in Families, newborns and corporate head shots.  Events, weddings and/or real estate photography are usually the types of things I pass on.  Now does that mean I can’t do those kinds of jobs, absolutely not.  I can do events and weddings but they aren’t what I advertise for and I am very, very selective about the jobs that I will take when it comes to those genres.   When I am asked to do them I make sure that I have the skill set and equipment required to do a great job.  If I feel I don’t, I refer the job to a friend who does meet the requirements.

4.  What does your fee include?  This is so important.  Pricing can vary dramatically from photographer to photographer and what is included in these fees can also vary quite a bit.   I have a lower session fee then people only purchase what they love.  Others might have a set fee and do packages, others have a very high fee and include everything.  If you are working with a good photographer who is charging appropriate rates make sure you understand the cost, fees, and what you are getting.

5.  How should I prepare for my session?  Oh this is a good one.  Every session needs some preparation.  Your photographer should walk you through everything from how to choose your wardrobe, location choices, timing, etc. . .   Ask them how they will help you get the results you are wanting.

6.  Where can I find you online?  All of us are online and should have not only a free Facebook page but a legitimate website that shows our portfolio and basic information about our business.  Our websites should be easy to navigate, clearly tell you where we are located, how to contact us and a little bit more about how our studio works.

7.  Can you take a picture like this one?  This one is sort of hit and miss with photographers.  To be perfectly honest, we don’t always appreciate getting sent a ton of Pinterest boards and images that you love taken by other photographers.   That is like wanting to buy a cake but asking a baker to make one using a recipe from a competitor.  We all want to think we have our own creative ideas that are great for our clients.  HOWEVER,  I find that when clients send me a few images of what they are thinking of for the session, it can be extremely helpful.  Sometimes what people want can’t be communicated easily with words.  By sending a picture there is no question of what they are looking for.

For example:  I did a session for a local real estate firm.  They were great to work with but after the first session they didn’t really love what I did  with the images.  They had told me that they wanted outside pictures with the fall foliage.  That is what we did the first time.  So when working with them to make sure they were completely satisfied,  I asked them to send me images that they thought were a closer representation of what they were looking for.  ALL of the images they sent, except one, were inside on a white backdrop.  I never would have known what they were really looking for unless they had sent me those samples.    We reshot the session using awhite back drop and they loved the results.  Those sample images saved the day.

8.  How will I obtain my photos and when can I expect them?  You need to know what the timelines are for your products, how you will choose them and any other details about the final delivery.  All of that is outlined in my session agreement and we discuss it at my client’s ordering appointment.   You should have a very clear idea on when you are going to get your stuff.

9.  Do you have a guarantee?  I  guarantee all my work and the products people purchase from me.  You love them or your don’t buy them.  It is pretty simple.  Photographers should be able to stand unconditionally behind their work and put it in writing.

I hope these pointers help you when looking for a great photographer for yourself or your family.   Don’t be scared to ask lots of questions.  The more you understand about the process the more at ease you will be about hiring a professional.

These questions were taken from the PPA website.  Please see their website for more valuable resources.

Questions to ask when hiring a Professional photographer Northern Virginia Family Photographer


Do you know of anyone who expecting?  I would love to speak with them regarding their portrait needs at this time.

Contact me online here:  Dorie Howell Photography Contact Page

OR, Find me on Facebook here:  Dorie Howell Photography on Facebook

OR,  check our my website here:  Dorie Howell’s official website

OR – pick up the phone and give me a call.  I would love to hear from you!  703.766.8399

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