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Choosing a Photographer With Style, Substance
By Kristi Sutton Elias

The process of choosing a professional photographer has never been easier or more fun, thanks to the Internet. I have been a professional photographer for the past 14 years, and I am going to give you the short course on what to look for in choosing your photographer and how to do it.

. Finding the style and talent. Being photographed is an emotional experience. You are choosing to document a time and part of your life. The photographer you choose should not only be someone whose work you love, but you should also like them as a person. Basically, if you wouldn't want to hang out with them at a backyard barbecue, you don't want them chasing you all around on your wedding day or holding your newborn baby. So spend some time and make sure you are a match!

. The Internet. Doing a Google search for photographers in your area is a great way to start. Remember to look past the top three pages of results. The first person that shows up on your search engine results may have the best placement, but that has nothing to do with photographic talent. You can also go to Google images and see lots of photographers' work on one page.

You want to look through the different photographers' online portfolio. Each photographer has his or her own style. No two photographers will capture the same moment identically. You know the saying - you can't please everyone. Well, the same goes for photography. So, look for a photographer whose images and style pleases you.

. Wedding Shows. If, you are specifically looking for a wedding photographer, then wedding shows are a great way to meet many photographers face to face and see some of their work. But, keep in mind, if you don't see anything that you like, there are plenty more photographers out there.

. Their Experience. Practice makes perfect! Find out how long they have been a professional photographer. Are they professionally trained or self taught? Look through their online galleries. Are they consistently good? If you find one image you would rate a 10 but the rest a 3, then that photographer is a 3. There is a saying in the art world - you are only as good as the weakest image in your portfolio. So make sure you look through the entire portfolio before making your fi-nal decision.

. Your Experience. Having your portraits or wedding day captured should be a fun and amazing experience. Your photographer should make you feel confident, both in them and about your future experience together. There should be a connection between you and your photographer all the way through the wedding or portrait day to the ordering/ viewing session and receiving your portraits. You should not only love you portraits, but love the experience.

. Investment. Photography is an art, and with all art comes a price. There are different factors that determine a photographer's price list: Time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer, not to mention expertise. I recommend choosing your photographer because you love their work, and you can't wait to look at it on your walls every day. If you pick a photographer strictly on price, you will most likely end up with regret and paying another photographer for a re-shoot.

I think this quote says it beautifully: "The cost of good photography will always be forgotten, where as the alternative ending up with bad art on your walls will haunt you daily."

Kristi Sutton Elias is a professional photographer in Long Beach LA and Orange County



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