Not all photographers are good at photographing ALL things! It's up to you to know the differe
With entry level dslr cameras becoming so cheap the last few years a lot more people are taking up photography and starting so called photography "businesses". I put this in quotations because all you really need to do to start a photography business nowadays is buy a $400 camera and create a Facebook page. Although a legitimate photography business also needs to have a business license, insurance and pay taxes, that's actually a subject for another time. My point in this post is to educate the customer on the subject that not all photographers are good at photographing all things.
I see it several times a day. A post on a buy, sell and trade group on Facebook where someone is looking for a photographer. Whether it be for a child's birthday party, a baptism or a wedding. Problem is, not all photographers will know how to photograph these events. Most new photographers just starting out will depend on shooting in only natural light. Well what happens when the day of your event is super gloomy and rainy and there is no beautiful natural light surrounding your subjects? What happens if you go to photograph a wedding in a dark church and you are not permitted to use any type of artificial lighting? Or you are going to photograph a newborn in their home and the only natural light is a tiny little window in the corner of the room?
Clients need to be clients that not all photographers are created equal and I am not saying that in a bad way. If you are wanting a cheaper photographer that can shoot outside in natural light and give you images you are proud of then great. There is definitely a market for this type of photographer. We all start somewhere. If you are wanting someone that can capture your wedding day in many different lighting situations and be able to provide you with consistent images from the whole day, then you need to "interview" your photographers. I don't mean pull out a spreadsheet of 120 questions because you will probably scare off most experienced photographers by looking like you will be a pain client that wants to control every little detail that they have no clue about but you do need to ask if he/she is knowledgeable and experienced in low light situations and if their camera can handle these conditions. Ask them if they have a backup camera with them at all times in case their main camera decides to crap out in the middle of the ceremony. Another great question to ask is if they shoot with a top of the line dslr that has the ability to shoot to two memory cards which means you have an instant backup just in case you get a fatal memory card failure and your images on one of the cards are lost and non-recoverable. This inevitably will happen to every photographer at one time or another in their career. Memory cards fail, it is a guarantee. Be prepared. It has happened to me twice. Thankfully I shoot with a $3500 camera that has dual memory card slots. I wouldn't dream of doing a wedding without one!
A professional photographer will more than likely also have several backups of your images at their home or office to ensure that if a hard drive crashes they are not lost. An amateur may not.
I personally know a few photographers that are GREAT at photographing some things, and not so great at others. Photographing a senior girl is nowhere near the same as photographing a newborn infant just as photographing a family during golden hour is nothing like photographing a military commissioning in a dark auditorium. I also know some photographers that excel at many different types of photography. I am personally trying to learn many different avenues of photography but there are still a few shoots that I would rather pass on to one of my photographer friends than take on myself. You have to know your limitations to ensure that you give your clients the best experience and images that they deserve. Take real estate photography for instance. I can do it, but I don't have much of a passion for it and I think it would show in my final images.
Long story short, It's YOUR responsibility as a client to know what the photographer you choose is capable of. Ask questions. Look over their portfolio. Be informed. This is the way to ensure the money you spent on your photographer is money well spent. One other thing you can use to gauge how experienced and knowledgeable your photographer is? What do they charge? More expensive photographers are almost always more experienced and now what they are doing more so than cheaper ones. Of course this is not a guarantee that you are getting a good one if you paid a pretty penny for them but it's just one more piece of the information pie to help you make an informed decision. It is just too expensive to BE a good photographer. Period.