SO! I got my first-time-ever actual question! and all the way from California, it made my day! nerd that I am, I went and did a Sally Field thing winning an Oscar; “You really read me, you actually really read me!”
Anyhoo, not to drag my over-excitement, maybe it’s hormones, here it is:
We really love your blog and your work, unfortunately, we’re a bit far away to book a session (central California). Do you have any tips or advice on what to look for when selecting a boudoir photographer? There are a number of options in our area, but it can be difficult to tell which will give the best experience for the price. Unlike a certain other photographer, they don’t all post blogs with loads of insight into their work. We were hoping that as someone “in the biz”, with a style and approach that we love, you could offer some pointers on how to tell a good photographer from a bad.
I know right! Really hard to choose from a website with 5 pages and maybe a photo of a person behind a camera all cheesy.
I really try to make people as comfortable as possible with me and that includes giving as much information as I can, upfront and without any hidden surprises. It’s hard enough to get the guts to actually decide to book a session when after you are searching the results leave you with more questions than you started with.
Here are some tips on finding the right boudoir photographer for you. And if you are a photographer here are some things I learned on what not to do.
1. If it’s too good to be true (the price)- is probably true.
This goes for craigslist or Groupon for that matter unless you actually heard of the photographer before. My problem with craigslist is that is usually amateur photographers offering you a deal so they can build their portfolio. Which is fine if you do not care where your images end up with. Craigslist just gives me the creeps.
Groupon too, it is funny because I get asked tons to do a coupon deal but I have always refused for boudoir. The photographer has to offer a popular package – like mine that is worth $400, at a discount 70% or more (to make it enticing)- so for $99 and from that, Groupon gets half and you get the 49.50 to shoot, edit and print and get about $5 bucks per hour of my time. No thanks. Sure it drives traffic to a website and gets your name out there but it is not worth the headache. Write a blog instead.
As a customer buying a coupon it puts you in the “cheap” category, and you might not receive the treatment and quality that you are really entitled to.
So you found a photographer in your area and the portfolio looks ok. If you want to do a little snooping before you contact the photographer to make sure those are their actual photos. You can use a website called tineye.com
to check if that image has been used on other sites. Especially helpful when you find out the photographer has used a stock photo or something like that to pad the portfolio.
Also, google just the photographers name and check in the images part. That gives you a visual reference of the images that are connected to the name.
3. Around the web
Even if you are not getting married, the wedding boards are a good source of experiences of brides to be looking for boudoir photographers. Places like snapknot.com weddingbee.com.
Browse the boards for people talking about their experiences, you will find a great range of good and bad.
90% of boudoir photographers shoot weddings. And all though it’s a different animal all together you get a sense of their experience and quality.
So you have scratched two things off your list and found a couple of photographers you are leaning towards based on portfolio and web presence. Now you have to get more information out of them before you can choose.
Questions to ask the boudoir photographer:
Copy all or remove as you need:
Where do you shoot? Is it a studio, home studio, or hotel? is there an extra cost associated with location?
What does the session of $xx include? (digital files or just prints?)
Is make up and retouching included?
How many outfits should I bring?
How long is the shoot?
How long until I see proofs or the final product?
Do you have some testimonials?
How far in advance do I have to book?
Do you do a consultation before the shoot?
And I think the most important of them all is :
I stress this one in case you really do not want your photos posted anywhere. Get it in writing. If they have a non-disclosure agreement ask to get one.
When writing your email it also helps if you outline your budget from the get go. Specially when you get to a page where the prices are supposed to be and they have the annoying email for prices.
And do not worry if they think you are being annoying with all your questions- it is their fault they do not have all the information available 🙂 Most are happy to answer anything and you can get a sense of their personality when they answer. Do not hesitate to ask for a phone call to talk to the person directly after you email them. Talking to a real person helps to give you a real sense of their geekyness (in my case) or their attitude. Or even their gender! I heard stories of Jamies, Jules, Lindseys, Ashleys that you thought where a female photographer only to find out it was a guy. Like there is a Marlen Boro guy that takes boudoir of just men. I take a look every now and then.
And thanks for the question! I feel almost famous – at least web famous 🙂