For a lot of couples, making the leap to spend money on a photographer can be either the easiest thing they’ve ever done or they are literally blind sided, terrified and possibly traumatized by the experience of trying to figure it all out. I’m here to (hopefully) make that a little bit easier and give you a good sized list of pros and cons to look for when making a decision.
If you do your research you can often times tell the difference between a talented newcomer who is still building a portfolio or a total rookie who just picked up the camera. This can be researched in a number of ways.
Pricing - Of course, Amateurs are good on the budget. But you must also look at the cost-efficiency and outcome. A seasoned professional might cost more but they have knowledge, skills, reviews and most importantly, tons of photos and work experience to back up their pricing. In all honesty, the price might look great, but it is a red flag if you see someone new offering to shoot weddings at a low cost by themselves if you happen to know that they just got a camera. A true upcoming talent will very selectively shoot a wedding by themselves. Someone who is taking their craft seriously will second shoot with professionals first, to get a good idea on how they want to do things until they feel comfortable on their own.
Portfolio - Touching off pricing, this isn’t to say that every amateur is bad, but rather, might be lacking experience. The difference between an amateur and an upcoming talent will show in the shooting and editing skills in their portfolio. An upcoming talent will most likely display just that, talent. While an amateur will go through the motions. The key to looking at a photographer’s portfolio is looking at how well their creativity shines with cohesiveness and consistency.
Branding and Website - Straight up… Is it professional? Up to date? Does it make you feel like you’re inquiring with someone serious about their job? Do they give you a good picture of what you might be getting? A lot of couples won’t dwell on these few things once they see wether a photographer is in or out of their price range but they are possibly the few most important factors. Photographers who are serious about their craft will be serious about their entire business. Their site will look good, stay current, up to date and un-jumbled.
Communication - Verbiage used in comments and responses on a photographer's social media posts and website will be correct and not confusing (yes there is always room for the possible typo) but if the entire site looks or reads weird, you may want to reconsider. You can tell a lot about how a person communicates. The more you ask questions and talk to your photographer, the better idea you will have on what kind of service they will give.
Editing - A good photographer will have a heavy understanding on how to edit. Professionals will have a cohesive feel, look and color to their photos that will not change. They understand highlights, shadows and how to work their camera the correct way to be able to edit flawlessly and cohesively. This can be a dead giveaway that someone is playing the role of photographer but doesn't have the skill set or equipment to capture shots in the same way a