with Courtney Slazinik
Photography Business: 7 Things Customers Look for in a Photographer

7 things customers look for in a photographer

Disclaimer! I’m not a professional photographer, while at one point a few years ago I did consider opening a photography business. I realize now that I had no idea what I would have been getting myself into! I have learned so much since then, and realize I have so much more to learn. I am currently happy with photography as a hobby. If you are a hobbyist, and are thinking of taking your photography to the next level, here are a few points customers may be considering when looking for a photographer (in no specific order).

What customers look for in a photography business

1. Shooting and Processing Style:
Do I like the photographer’s style? Each session should have the same “style”. I have read over and over again that when finding one’s own shooting and processing style, the photographer should think of a few words that they want their clients/viewers to think or feel when seeing their portfolio.  And the words may change over time… but as a whole, is the photographer’s work cohesive? Let’s face it, word of mouth is where most photographers get referrals. And as a customer, I would want to make sure that I’m getting the style that I am paying for. For example, a lifestyle photographer’s images should reflect that style of photography.

2. Processing Style:
Do I like the processing of the image? Will it match my personal/family style? Does every session/sneak peek have the same feel as the other? Is the processing consistent? Is the style of processing cohesive? Again, a customer wants to know what they are paying for. While some people love B&W, others clients prefer color, vintage, ethereal, hazy, etc. The photographer’s portfolio should reflect the style that will be delivered to the client so that there aren’t any surprises.

3. Quality:
Is the quality consistent? Are all of the images in focus? Does each session feel fresh and new? Unfortunately, most customers are not going to be experts at critiquing the technicalities of photography. But as business owners, I think photographers should be displaying work that they can be proud of and would pay for themselves.

3. Investment:
Can I afford custom photography? Pricing is all over the place in photography.  Personally, I think photography is worth saving up for, but I love photography and know the time that it takes behind the scenes. The customer will want to know how much to expect to pay for what she would like out of the session. How much are prints versus digital files? Can I get prints? Can I buy digital files only?

4. Location:
Will the photographer shoot on location or consider new locations? Is there a traveling fee for longer distances?

5. Website:
In this age of technology, an easy to navigate website is essential. My personal preference is simple. This allows the images to take center stage. If a customer cannot quickly and efficiently locate portfolios and pricing (or a way to obtain pricing quickly–as some are not published), the customer is likely to be attracted to a business where he/she can.

6. Photographer/Client Relationship:
Does the photographer put the customer at ease? Are there rescheduling fees/cancelation fees? Is the photographer easy to converse with and does he/she respond in appropriate time frames? Is scheduling convenient?

7. Specialization:
Does the photographer specialize in the type of photography I’m looking for? Maternity, Newborn, Seniors, Weddings, Family? People are good at what they love! If a photographer shoots only seniors, it is probably because they enjoy it and are good at it! When looking for a family photographer, I want someone who loves shooting the dynamics of a family (and has experience keeping the little ones in line!)

The following are images of Kelly Garvey and family, taken by the talented Jodi Arego.



And a self family portrait by Kelly herself!

What do you look for when hiring a photographer?

  • joanne
    July 11, 2012 at 6:29 AM

    hey guys im not sure where to post this so i hope its ok to write it here!im doing my first photoshoot with a dj tomoro at an abandoned railway station would you guys have any tips on what iso,shutter speed etc to use?im currently limited to a canon 1100d and 28-55mm and 70-300mm lenses?any help would be greatly appreciated thanks :)

    • July 11, 2012 at 7:00 AM

      I guess that all depends on the time of day, the available light, etc. My suggestion would be to lower your ISO as low as you can to keep your SS above 250 or so. I think those are variable ap lenses, so keep an eye on your exposure when zooming. Your ap can change when zooming in which will affect exposure, so keep that in mind. Good luck on your shoot!

  • joanne
    July 11, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    it will be afternoon but since i live in ireland its nothing but rain!il try your tips thanks for your help :)

  • September 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    information is very beneficial and beneficial
    nikon d700

  • April 1, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    Great, useful information. Thanks for sharing. A rule of thumb I always kept in mind with SS was to make sure it was 2X the focal length to avoid camera shake. So if you are shooting 200mm, you need to go 1/400 of second. You can also always use a tripod or if you are really desperate for light, add an off camera speedlight on a stand to brighten your subject up a bit. If you use OCF, make sure you meter for ambient and then just use the light for a little fill or you will get that “shocked flash” look. Good luck!

  • Tara
    June 16, 2014 at 10:18 PM

    Thanks for giving some good items to consider! You may want to double check your title. I counted EIGHT items on your list (two #3s).

  • Ian
    July 4, 2018 at 4:56 PM

    Reference the portrait shoot Joanne, have you ever used a light meter reader? they are invaluable for determining the right shutter speed, aperture or iso. I never do a shoot without one, once you have got the hang of using one, it won’t be long before you are a good judge at getting the settings near as dam it correct as the lighting conditions change. It is always good practice, if possible, to visit the shoot site a day or so before and figure out any problems you are likely to have, this will give you some confidence and install some self belief. In the Army we called it the 5P’s Preparation & Planning, Prevents,Piss Poor, Performance.
    Hope the shoot went OK.

  • Tracy Reed
    May 1, 2021 at 6:09 PM

    I realize this article is a few years old, however it has been SUPER helpful in doing research!!
    Thank you for taking the time to share all of this great information.

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