Ask A... Photographer with Brittanny Taylor

1. Why can’t I have every single image you took from my photoshoot? 

As much as I would love every single photo I take to be “the shot”, that is just not realistic. A client hires me because they like my work but what does that really mean? They like my style, the way the photos look (the edit), and the emotion that it evokes for them. The photo isn’t done once I click the shutter button. I want to deliver a group of photos that will make the client happy and feel fantastic about themselves. I can’t do that when I give them a photo with one eye shut, or their hair flying all over the place from a gust of wind. Even the best supermodel that ever existed has not-so-flattering photos taken of them. That’s just real life. Delivering the not so great shots will distract from how absolutely great they look in other shots. Trust your photographer in picking out the absolute best photos of you. Even if you are given a selection of photos to choose which ones you want edited, remember that list is culled down too. You will not see the out of focus, over or under exposed, or unflattering shots because honestly, why would you want to see them?

2. Why should I have a professional headshot? 

Everyone should have a nice photo of themselves. You can use it for business, for social media profile photos, or choose to send it to Grandma in a birthday card. It’s called a professional headshot for a reason, it’s just more professional. If you are looking at ads in a magazine or online and you see two people with similar qualifications but one has a professional headshot and one is a selfie, who would you hire? You may not even think about it but you would most likely pick the one with a professional headshot. Why? Because they look more professional. From that one shot you got a vision in your head of what type of person they are and what kind of business they run. Also remember that professional headshots don’t need to be the stuffy ones you take at a portrait studio. You can be as casual as you like and wear whatever makes you comfortable and makes sense for you, your business, and your brand. 

3. Is it insulting to ask for a discount or barter? 

The short answer is most of the time, yes. The long answer is you don’t ask your hairdresser, mechanic, or lawyer for a discount, so why ask your photographer? Somewhere along the way it seems like people think just because someone is working in a creative career that they are doing it for the love of it, and it doesn’t matter if they make money on it. Creatives deserve to get paid for their work, just like you do. The only acceptable instance to ask to barter is if you know the person. When I say know them, like truly know them. Not just someone you are Facebook friends with that you never met in real life. For example: I am shooting family portraits for my hairdresser and she is giving me a certain number of cuts in the exact same value of the photoshoot. We are doing an even trade and we are both getting something out of it. Once I hit that value of hair cuts, I’m back to paying her again. If you have something of value to offer and you feel like the other person could benefit from that, then ask about a bartering situation. Otherwise, wait until you can afford the service.

4. How do I pick the photographer that is a good fit with me? 

Do your research. Check out their social media profiles to see if you like their vibe. If you are new to getting your photo taken, you will want to be as comfortable as possible with your photographer if they are a person you've never met before. For me, a sense of humor is key. I crack jokes a lot and I’m pretty dry in my delivery so some people may not get that most of what I am saying is a joke. If they checked out my Twitter profile and they don’t get me, then we probably won’t mesh well in the end. But if they check out my Twitter profile and see that we have a similar sense of humor, then we could possibly be a great fit together. Personality is key. If you check them out online or on their blog and you see a lack of personality, then there is a chance they might be like that in real life. You can also talk to them on the phone or invite them out for a cup of tea to get to know them better. Photography can be an incredibly personal experience and we want our clients to really open up in front of the lens. It’s important that both people are comfortable around each other.

5. How much say should I have in choosing the location, style, look of my photos? 

You have so much say! You hired that photographer because something resonated in you when you saw their work. Mostly I have clients who right away will say “what do you want to do for the shoot?” and my answer usually is “I don’t know yet”, which tends to confuse them. Unless I have a grand idea I know that will be perfect for them, this is a collaboration of ideas between the client and myself. If they want me to plan every aspect, I will, but usually they have some vision for themselves that they need me to fulfill for them. It’s okay to send your photographer ideas that you are interested in trying out. The only thing I warn against is spending too much time in Pinterest. You can make a board of 100 of the most beautiful photos you’ve seen but you must remember that you are pulling from a multitude of different photographers, models, and collaborators who all have different styles. You can get some ideas here and there, but the photographer you hired has their own style which may not match up to what you compiled on Pinterest. Trust your own ideas to create something special with your photographer.

Brittanny Taylor is a fashion and lifestyle photographer living in Providence, Rhode Island.