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Interviewing your photographer

Interviewing your photographer

Lori Black poses in front of a photoI have been having some conversations with future brides about doing their wedding photography. They are doing smart. They essentially interviewed me.

I don’t always meet prospective clients in person, but when I do I figure it’s just an opportunity to chat and get to know each other. The last young woman I met did something unexpected. She asked me an interview-style question — the kind you would probably hear in a job interview. I was a little caught off guard but I thought it was really a good thing. I could see this young woman was really doing her homework and was behaving in a smart manner. The question she asked me was basically this: explain how you are different from other photographers and why should I hire you.

I wasn’t sure what to say at first. I wasn’t expecting that question. But it was a great question.

I had to take a moment to think, and the young woman was gracious enough to tell me to take my time.

What I said was nothing profound. I didn’t say I was the best photographer she could possibly find. I don’t think I’m the best photographer out there. But I did come up with something very simple that separated me from other photographers. Here’s what I said: It’s my use of lighting. Lighting is the most essential ingredient in any photograph. While taking photos outside on a bright day provides plenty of light, sometimes a photographer needs to alter or overpower existing light. That is done with external lighting. So many answer was that I believe I’m one of the few photographers she would find that will use external lights outside to achieve better results.

I told her many photographers bill themselves as “natural light” photographers. While that sounds very appealing, natural light isn’t always the best. Plus, it often doesn’t result in a highly desirable feature in a personal portrait — catchlights in the eyes. Catchlights are little shapes of light in both eyes that will bring the eyes alive. If the light outside isn’t shining right, you aren’t going to get those catchlights. So I told her that my desire is to achieve catchlights and if I have to add additional lighting outside I will. That could mean that I will use a flash on top of my camera. I may use a flash off camera. Or I may use a larger strobe off to the side, sometimes with a softbox. Yes, even outside when it’s totally bright outside.

So that was my long-winded answer to her question. But back to the original point of this article, which is interviewing your photographer.

Another bride recently asked me a question that I don’t get asked a lot. What happens if something happens to you on our wedding day and you can’t make it to the wedding. (My answer was that I have other photographers I can call on to fill in.) The point is that it’s a great idea to ask lots of questions to your photographer.

Yes, interview your photographer like an employer would interview a job prospect. The photographer is an important role at your wedding so you want to make sure you get the right person.


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