29 February 2012 - 21:11Choosing a glamour photographer

It seems these days that if you own an expensive digital camera you can call yourself a professional photographer… but that is so far from the case.  The true definition of a professional photographer is one who makes a full time living from photography.  An  amateur is someone who derives less than 50% of their income from photography.

Unfortunately there are full time photographers out there that technically qualify as professional but fall short honoring business practices and standards.

If you are shooting glamour and even possibly nude photography you must trust that the photographer follows professional practices and understands issues of privacy relating to your images.

Any photographer has a moral right under the copyright law to display images of you within his/her portfolio… even if this right is signed away by the photographer.   Moral rights under the copyright laws in Canada cannot be transferred!

You are protected from usage in any publication, 3rd party websites, or reproduction without a signed model release.   Unfortunately there are photographers out there that simply do not know or respect this.  Ownership of the original digital files does not relate to usage rights whatsoever.

So how do you begin to pick a photographer?

View online portfolio
The first part is easy… look at online portfolios and choose the style that you like.  Use narrow search terms such as ‘Vancouver Glamour Photographer‘.  The more images you can look at the the better.  Does the photographer just rely on beautiful models or can you see that he/she really brings out the beauty of the model.   Portrait photographers do not necessarily make great glamour photographers as good as they may be… great family portraits do not translate to great glamour shots.   I have made my specialty Glamour and pinup photography as you can see in my Portfolio.   It’s important that  your style and attitude ‘fit’ the photographer.

Search the business or photographers name and read reviews, complaints, and get a sense of their standing in the profession.  Another useful tool is the Better Business Bureau.

Start with a phone interview
A receptionist may give you details of the the session but try to talk to the actual photographer.   Usually you will know right away if you ‘click’… it’s important to have a good connection.

Make an appointment to meet
Do they have a studio?  Imagine the surprise of getting makeup at someones apartment and then shooting outside all day… is that what you expected?  This is a good opportunity to see the shooting space, discuss outfits and expectations, meet face to face and get an idea of how the day will go.

I have seen some amazing final work from photographers that are frankly quite horrible shooters.   I was told once that if you have a hot model and good retoucher, that is all you need.  I wholeheartedly disagree…  quality in = quality out.   I personally feel that you should not have to rely on photoshop to ‘make’ the images ‘good’.  During your first interview, ask to see an entire photoshoot before retouching,  this is your best indicator of the level of quality the photographer is shooting at… and gives you an idea of what to expect.

There are no dumb questions!  Ask as many as you need to feel comfortable:

  • Will there be other people around during the shoot?
  • Do you use top line professional equipment?
  • Are my private images sent out to someone else to retouch? (Are they sent ‘out of country’?)
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have props/clothing or do I have to bring all my own?
  • Will I have professional makeup/hair done… does she/he have a portfolio to view?
  • Do you sell images to publications / websites?  (if yes, the photographer should be clear that this is done only with  a model release)
  • Do you have a studio?
  • Do you belong to any professional affiliations?
  • What should I do to prepare for the photoshoot?
  • Do you mostly work with professional models or amateurs?
  • Can you fix my problem areas such as…?  (How would this be dealt with?)

Great photographers usually charge more for their work.  Like anything in life, you get what you pay for.  Set a budget and live within realistic expectations.   It’s unlikely you will ever get Playboy quality work from a student photographer charging $200… however experience in front of the camera of an average or amazing photographer always has it’s value.

Bryan Ward

Bryan Ward Photography Ltd.

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