Over the last ten years, high-tech camera gear has become ultra affordable. That means photographers are a dime a dozen today. I’m betting you all personally know someone or a friend-of-a-friend who bought a DSLR and is now trying to break into the photography game, right? So with all those options out there, how do you choose the photographer that is right for you?
Several key things are important when hiring any pro. First and foremost is budget. You should choose the best photographer within your price range. Second, you definitely want to look for a photographer that you can relate to or feel like you would “click” with. Being comfortable with your photographer is an important ingredient in producing beautiful images. If you’re not comfortable during your shoot, that will come across in your photos.
But for this article, I want to focus on a key area specific to photography that really should guide your hiring decision. That important characteristic is the photographer’s style. No, not the clothes they wear or how they do their hair, but how they edit their photos. Just like with hairstyles and fashion, photography goes through trends. Think back to 2007. If you know someone who got married about this time, I bet they had a photo or two (or twelve) that sported some “selective-color” editing. For those unfamiliar with the term, this is when a photographer turns a photo black and white, but leaves one element of the photo in color, for example a bride’s bouquet. This type of editing was cutting edge 10 years ago, but just like mullet hairstyles and wearing socks with your sandals, it can now be lumped in with those trends that have fallen to the wayside and simply make photos look dated.
There are a lot of different styles out there right now, and let me start by saying there are photographers who do each one of them VERY well and produce lovely photos. This is not a post to put different styles down. But when searching for a photographer to document your little girl’s first birthday or even more importantly – and “once-in-a-lifetime” – your wedding day, make sure you choose someone who’s photos will stand the test of time. Try to avoid photographers with editing styles that deviate too far from a “true to life” look.
One style that is out there right now that is really popular, and I can’t help but feel like will be one of those outdated trends in ten years is the “looks like film” trend. Genuine film photography is beautiful, but there’s a reason technology has moved past film and on to digital. Digital photography can produce more vibrant images, much truer to what the eye actually sees, while film has a more muted tone. Lately, I’ve seen more and more photographers adopt this “looks like film” style where they desaturate their photos. To demonstrate what I’m talking about, take the photo below. The first is one of my images with very little editing. Lots of green and that golden hour glow. The second is that same image with a “film-like” edit. You’ll notice that all that beautiful greenery is muted and we’ve lost that beautiful glow. The second image here does achieve that “bright and airy” look that is super popular right now, but at the expense of your beautiful greens, and no longer is a true to life representation of the scene. While we are talking about bright and airy, I want to caution you that it’s really easy for this style to go too far and almost look over-exposed. Too bright, and you risk losing a lot of detail in your images. Take this photo below of one of my gorgeous brides. Her dress was breath-taking, and we definitely don’t want to lose any of the gorgeous detail. But in the second example, too much brightness and desaturation will do just that. My goal is to provide my clients with images that will stand the test of time. If my editing style doesn’t produce classic, timeless photos, then I’m not staying true to my goal. Film-like images, and bright and airy photos are beautiful when they are done right, but over-editing can run the risk of your images looking dated in a decade.