How to avoid being manipulated into working with a photographer based on clever marketing tricks rather than the quality of their work and services.

Regardless of what they charge, every photographer is “affordable” to someone. That may not be you. Being “affordable” is obviously relative to what every individual thinks they can or should pay for a photo shoot.

So obviously a photographer calling themselves affordable doesn’t necessarily make it true for every individual. When selecting a photographer to work with, be careful not to pick a photography strictly based on price.

When comparing photographers, be sure to compare the quality of their work, their presentation, and your interaction with them (such as how receptive they are to questions).

Often a photographer trying to gain your business will in some way try to convince you that they’re the only photographer available to help meet your specific needs. Sometimes this may actually be true, depending on where you live and other factors. But in many cases, it’s really just a marketing tactic in order to convince you to commit.

Generally speaking, there have never been more photographers available to meet your needs in the history of photography, than there are now. Some photographers are better suited to meet your needs than others — so make sure you can see yourself in their work and you are confident from their presentation — or better your interaction with the photographer — that they are the right photographer for you.

This is a case where a photographer may simply be looking to attract clients or gain professional experience by charging very little for their services. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if a photographer doesn’t consistently charge enough for their work to support their business, then the chances are good that they are not supporting their “photography business” with their photography.

If the person is a hobbyist or simply someone looking to make a few extra dollars taking photographs, then be certain you know this and, more importantly, be sure that the work they provide appeals to you and is capable of meeting your needs. A person who supports their photography business with their photography services is much more emotionally invested in providing quality services and gaining repeat clients than someone who is simply looking to earn a few dollars on the side.

Your career may be worth it, but you don’t always get what you pay for. While we often equate product quality with price, a photographer who charges a premium price doesn’t necessarily provide photos that are better than a photographer who charges much less.

So be careful not to be manipulated into working with a photographer simply because their rates are above the average of other photographers in your area. In the end, choose a photographer based on the quality of their work and your specific needs.

This could be true. It depends on the photographer.

Getting great photos out of people when you point a camera at them has a lot to do with how the person getting their picture taken feels during the shoot. If they’re comfortable and they trust the photographer, it really helps in capturing great photos.

If the person is nervous or uncomfortable during their photo shoot, it nearly always shows in the photos. That does not mean it’s impossible to get fantastic shots while nervous or uncomfortable, but it does make a photographer’s job more difficult — and it’s much less fun and enjoyable as a subject.

While that “fake smile” may work in a snapshot, it doesn’t belong in a professional photo. A good photographer will know how to capture “the true you” — and if that’s someone with a genuine smile, all the better.

First, keep in mind that this may very well be true. Or it may be true one week, but not the next.

The general idea of using limited availability as a photographer marketing tactic is that it can make a photographer appear as if they are in high demand. Items that appear to be in high demand are often viewed as superior to others.

Another thing having limited availability does is create “scarcity”. People tend to want things more when they’re more difficult to get.

In the end, be careful not to be manipulated to working with a photographer simply because you perceive them to have limited availability.

Make sure that you look at their work and have a good idea of what you can expect if you work with them. And if that is something you want, go for it.

Scarcity makes people act.

When people think something is in short supply, they are more likely buy it. It’s almost automatic in some case. In most cases, stores and manufacturers deliberately create shortages and intentionally market the fact that their items are in short supply. This way, if you had ever thought about purchasing an item, even if you weren’t that serious about it, if you know it’s almost impossible to get, but you somehow discover it on a shelf somewhere, you’ll buy it. It’s a marketing tactic. Remember the iPhone?

Photographer’s “limited time” specials are a psychological attempt at the same thing. But it doesn’t mean they’re not also offering a great deal either!

So don’t be afraid of limited time offers — just be certain that you’ve done your research and know that the photographer is capable of meeting your needs.

Also realize, many photographers may be willing to negotiate to the same price as a “limited time” offer at other times. While it is not a guarantee, it never hurts to ask.

It is a fact that anyone can write anything and post it on the internet. And some photographers do just that by writing their own testimonials or online business reviews.

And in some cases when the testimonials may be genuine, the person they were intended for may not be. Some photographers are so desperate to promote themselves with positive feedback that they lift entire sections of websites from others and present them as their own.

Sadly, this not only includes testimonials, but also photographs as well.

If the testimonials on display at a photographer’s don’t seem to fit with the presentation or something seems off, ask for references from actual clients.

One simple trick is to copy and paste specific wording from a photographer’s website (including testimonials) and enter it between quotes into google like this:

  • Enter this into google (including quotes): “The photographer’s web site has very positive testimonials.”

If you do a search for that specific text and it appears on other websites, one of more of those people have copied it.

The photographer highlights the fact that they’ve worked professionally for many years.

While this can simply be presented as a fact, the typical reason to mention years of experience is to impress you. Often years of experience are an indicator that a person is very good at what they do.

While sometimes this is the case, it’s not always true.

It is simply a fact that some photographers are better than others and the “years of experience” just doesn’t make up for raw talent.

Also, the digital photography revolution has changed the playing field. Some photographers may not be as skilled behind the camera as they are with digitally processing (touching up) their photos.

Others may not post process their photos at all — instead outsourcing the work to retouching professionals.

In the end, it doesn’t matter so much as long as you are happy with their work.

Years of experience goes, it’s really all quite relative. Some people start their professional careers providing work that is barely adequate, and over time their skills improve (we hope). Other people can start their professional careers with a natural talent and an eye for taking great photos. And over time, their skills improve as well. Photographer “A” with 20 years of experience doesn’t necessarily take better photos than photographer “B” with 2 years of experience.

Taking a great photograph does not require years of experience. In fact, many people who wouldn’t even call themselves photographers can get lucky and do it, too. But taking great photographs with consistency is a sign of strong skills and an adequate amount of experience to make it happen. For some that could mean 6 months of “experience”. For others, 6 years.

What years of experience often provide over those who don’t have it, are problem solving skills and certain tricks and techniques that come about through trial and error. They also, over time, establish relationships with other industry professionals which may prove beneficial to you in some direct or indirect fashion.

It’s not always what you know, but who you know that’s important. Many photographers do improve with years of experience, but years of experience are no guarantee for improvement.

Sadly, there are photographers who have been doing what they do for 25+ years and their work is no more noteworthy than those who have been doing it for one.

So don’t necessarily be impressed by someone boasting about the years of experience they have. It’s more important to be impressed by the work itself. It’s the results of their experience that matters most.

Also keep in mind that people who have been working for 25+ years are often much older than folks who have been working for only 2. Depending upon your age, personality and preferences, this may be exactly what you want.

When you work with a photographer, you’re working with a person. And getting great shots can often be the result of having a great connection with the person you’re working with. For some, the age, and certainly the personality, of who they’re working with can make a difference.

The photographer has won awards. They must be better than those who have not.

Awards are awesome and quite rare in photography. Being acknowledged, or better yet, being voted “the best” of anything is quite an achievement and definitely something to be proud of and certainly worth using to promote yourself.

The thing to keep in mind about awards is their source and how or why they were awarded.

  • Is there a relationship between the presenter and the recipient?
  • Were votes cast? If so, how many and who cast them?
  • Is it a statistically significant number for whatever the award is for?
  • And how did the names get on the ballot to begin with? Did everyone who deserved to be on the list get on it?

Not all awards are equal and it’s good to know a thing or two about the process before simply assuming that an award is truly significant or “the best” of anything is truly an accurate assessment.

The photographer only uses “professional” equipment or their equipment is superior to others.

Yes, there is such a thing as “professional” equipment. But professional equipment doesn’t make someone a better photographer. In the photography world, there are countless stories of amatuer photographers who always purchase the latest and greatest equipment thinking it will improve their photography.

A camera is to a photographer as a hammer is to a carpenter. And having a better hammer doesn’t mean you’ll be able to build a better house. I would even go so far as to say that many photographers’ cameras are capable of doing far more than the photographer has the ability to truly take advantage of.

That said, there is a reason why most equipment labelled as “professional” is marketed to and bought by professionals. This equipment has features and options available to help meet the demanding and often diverse needs of professionals. And one also hopes that having professional equipment means that the quality of the equipment, the high standards to which is was made, and/or the output provided by that equipment is better. And in many cases it is.

Probably the most significant (and obvious) tool used by photographers is their camera and the next significant would be the lenses they use. While some on the cheaper end of the spectrum may not provide all of the same bells & whistles of the more expensive brands, they can be quite capable of getting “professional” quality results when put in the hands of a capable photographer.

The quality and of type of camera and lenses a photographer can get away with using depends on the quality and resolution of the output they need. If a client needs super large, tack sharp, and highly detailed prints, then that means it is necessary to use a camera and lens combination capable providing that.

But the minimum requirements of the type of camera and lens combination necessary to take actors headshots which result in 8″x10″ prints are lower than the requirements of someone shooting materials for a nationwide ad campaign.

Photographers are often very proud of their gadgets and many times loyal to their brands. Oftentimes, this attachment is facilitated by the fact that they paid a lot of money for whatever it is they use.

So long as the result a photographer can provide is capable of meeting your specific needs and makes you happy, then it really doesn’t matter what tools they used to go about it.