NJM+E: What should you look for when hiring a photographer?

TRC: The proof is in the pudding as they say, so without a doubt, ask to see samples; preferably an entire shoot instead of the cherrypicked highlights. This way one can get a very good idea of what they can expect to receive as a whole. I’m not saying to ignore those without experience, since we all started somewhere, but make sure to know certain things. Are they insured? Are they members of any guilds or professional organizations? What contingencies do they have in place for equipment malfunction, and/or unexpected injuries? Is this their full-time job and/or do they hope to one day make it their career, or do they do it for fun on the weekends to make a few extra bucks? Lastly, what does your gut tell you? Does the person seem friendly and knowledgeable and project confidence that they’ll do a good job?

NJM+E: What are the things you wish people knew before they hired you?

TRC: There is a great deal more work that goes on before and after a shoot than people realize. Actually using my camera and creating imagery is only about 20 percent of my work week. There are consultations, site visits, preparations, communicating with planners and coordinators, labs, designers, printers, proofing, redesigns, edits, etc.

NJM+E: What are the biggest complaints and how could they be avoided?

TRC: Funny enough, I find the overwhelming majority of complaints I hear are war stories of bad experiences with other photographers. Inevitably most of the complaints could have been avoided by A) actually having hired a real professional and B) setting expectations through proper communication.

NJM+E: What can a client expect post-event?

TRC: Basic corrections to color and brightness should be done as part of the deal. Heavier lifting photoshopping will be billed separately. Beyond that, it depends on what is agreed upon between the client and the photographer. Most event clients want about 10 selects right away for press releases, then the remainder delivered in a timely manner shortly thereafter. If you are a vendor/coordinator/planner, reach out to the photographer a few weeks after the event and see if they’ll share the images with you. Most will be more than happy to as it’s advertising for them as well.

Thomas Robert Clarke is a Mercer County-based photographer best known for portraits and events. His portrait and event photography has been published in national and regional magazines, and his commercial product photography can be seen in stores around the world. See more of his work at thomasrobertclarke.com.

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